Ausually docile, complacent country has forced its politicians to sit up and take notice with unrelenting demonstrations to protest the increasing violence against women, triggered by the gang rape of a student. Yesterday, we ran a front page piece on how local trains, the so-called lifeline of Mumbai, are also becoming increasingly unsafe for women.
Whatever direction the ongoing protests take, and it is unfortunate that some of these have degenerated into large scale hooliganism, it is important that once these demonstrations die down, there is constant vigilance that this anger fructifies into action. Immediate action, of course, would be to mete out swift and harsh punishment to the rapists but it is long-term action that can bring about real change.
Many politicians have joined in the chorus of rage and some have even used the incident to garner brownie points with political opportunism. They have to be held to their promises of better policing and made to work towards making the laws harsher. Merely shouting from the rooftops along with the public is not enough.
Too often have we seen events and incidents acting as catalysts for public anger. After a few days, the simmering emotion is once again bottled up and the issue is packed away with mothballs, only to re-emerge if a fresh, unfortunate incident occurs. Let’s hope that does not happen this time. The public has got the government worried, though violence is not the most ideal route to have taken towards this end.
Let’s continue with peaceful demonstrations but let them know that people want change: real change, or they will not let up. Let leaders be aware that this time, people will not simply live in the hope that this problem will magically disappear. The momentum is with the people. It is time to take this the distance.