The image of middle-aged, naked Manipuri women protesting outside the Indian Army headquarters in Manipur, demanding punishment for those who murdered and raped 32-year-old Manorama in 2004 might be long dead for many young Indians. But the horror that women like Manorama had to endure in both regions of conflict as well as in urban India, nine years after that incident, hasn’t died down.
In late 2012 a 23-year-old was gangraped in Delhi creating huge protests all over India. But that didn’t change anything either, as just recently, a woman was raped early morning in a local train in Mumbai. With an aim to help female victims of violence and create awareness towards women’s rights, six artistes will perform at the Cry Freedom Concert, organised for the first time in Mumbai and later on in Delhi. The Mumbai edition will kick off on August 9 with a performance by Dualist Inquiry, Vasudha Sharma and Sand Dunes followed by Ash Roy, Hari and Sukhmani and Jasleen Royal in Delhi.
The root cause of these problems, Sanaya Ardeshir of the act Sand Dunes, believes, is the general attitude towards women and those who suffer from sexual assault, harassment or rape. “I’ve been deeply horrified by stories of atrocities against women in urban and rural India, and the level of apathy towards them. This is an important time for people across Indian cities to come together and shine some light on what is the need of the hour,” she says.
In 2012, nearly 2.4 lakh incidents of crime against women were reported, of which 24,915 were rape cases. The situation becomes more appalling, when one learns that in most rape cases (24,470), the offenders were known to the victims. “These women cannot be made to feel shame, guilt or responsible for what happened to them. Our societal view of these victims is where we have failed as a country. This needs to change,” she says.
The concert has tied up with the NGO Give India, where people can donate money (a minimum of R1,180) to support the 51 women victims under the care of Swadhar Institute for development of Women and Children and Center for Social Security Action and Research and help rebuild their lives. Vasudha Sharma, who is part of the Mumbai leg, will play a special song dedicated to women victims that advocates the freedom of expression. “Women in power must be more involved more and institute rules and regulations to ensure safety for women and enforcement of laws to ensure women don’t suffer be it molestation or rape.”
Crimes against women
In 2012, nearly 2.4 lakh incidents of crime against women were reported, of which 24,915 were rape cases.