Jyoti lived a commoner’s life but died a martyr. She may no longer be amongst us but her name shines and her legacy of hope, bravery and determination still speaks. True to her name, she spread light throughout the nation, and touched so many lives in such a short span of time. Jyoti also enlightened us with some dark facts around sexual abuses against women, and pretty much woke up the nation from its pretentious slumber of India Shining!
Jyoti became Nirbhaya on 16th December 2012. Some also called her Amanat, Damini and many chose to simply call her, Delhi gang rape victim. Raped, tortured, thrashed, thrown and traumatized – this was how Jyoti spent her last few days on earth. She was helpless, but she wasn’t weak in any way. Whether it was fighting back by beating and biting her rapists or dealing with her condition in hospital, in either case, she had an amazing power to fight back and the will to live. Her cry of “Save me…I want to live” became the cry of every woman in India.
Her death didn’t stop further rapes. Infact there were rapes reported just the same day and the next day! Her death didn’t hang her murderers; it’s been three months since that horrific day and yet the trial is still on. But she helped unite a nation over a common cause and kindle the light of revolution, ushering a new wave of protesters that literally swept the country. She transformed ordinary bystanders into revolutionaries.
Tens of thousands signed an online petition protesting the unfortunate incident and more people from all corners of India poured into the streets to show their anger against the rapists and the Government. Even neighboring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh showed support by conducting rallies. Jyoti helped reveal rape statistics in India, and the numbers were seemingly alarming. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 24,206 rapes recorded in 2011, with Delhi at the top of the ladder, with a shocking one rape every 18 hours! What’s also worse is, there are still around 93,000 pending rape cases. But after the Jyoti incident, the Government allocated five fast track courts to speed up the process.
Thanks to her, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 was formed to criminalize all forms of sexual assaults. Also, a 24-hour helpline was started to help women in distress and a Rs. 1,000 crore Jyoti fund was sanctioned in the recent Budget for safety and empowerment of women. Even The United States honored her by granting Jyoti, the 2013 International Women of Courage award.
Possibly, one of the biggest outcomes was when Jyoti’s father decided to come forward and reveal his daughter’s name. This was a bold step, especially in a country like India, where a girl hesitates to file a rape case for the fear of bringing shame to the family name, unfortunately even the parents try to hide the wound as much as possible!
Jyoti Singh Pandey is a lesson that India needs to learn. She is the hope that one day women in India will be able to walk the streets without any fear. She is a memory that will linger in our minds for a long time. She is the story of bravery that history books will talk about and tell how Jyoti became Nirbhaya.