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Soon a memorial to 'shame' society on growing sexual crimes

Lucknow: Stirred by a series of sexual crimes in the state and elsewhere, an NGO has decided to build a Nirbhaya Memorial to the women who were victims of such crimes and to stir society's conscience against such acts.

Nutan Thakur, an office-bearer of NGO People's Forum, said the forum has an 8,000 sq ft piece of land in Khadgapur in the Gomtinagar extension for the memorial, named after the Dec 16, 2012, Delhi gang-rape victim. The memorial would not only be for highlighting many such cases of sexual assault, crimes and brutality perpetrated against women but also to "shame" the assailants and society at large that "such heinous crimes continue under their watch".

The memorial would also have a counselling centre for women facing "similar situations" and would work to alert them before it's too late.

"The idea is to salute the women's spirit which in many avatars in Hindu mythology is an incarnation of Shakti," Nutan Thakur's husband Amitabh Thakur, a senior IPS officer, who is also contributing to the memorial that is likely to be completed by the first week of January 2015, told IANS.

"We, as responsible citizens, have taken it upon ourselves to ensure that such crimes are not only adequately highlighted but also not brushed under carpet by a society which does not want to live with shame and pain beyond a certain timeline," he mused while explaining how, when such incidents take place, there is a wave of public sentiment that soon wanes.

The idea behind the memorial - which will have a statue of a woman in abstract and symbolic along with a demon-like man out to assault her sexually - was to ensure that the pain lingers on until it shakes the people into a permanent action mode, Amitabh Thakur said.

Thus, the memorial would also have a small museum where memories of these crimes would be preserved in the form of pictures of victims, the stories of their families, their dreams, paper cuttings of news reports and details of the police action or inaction with a detailed follow up, he added.

Asked if this would be akin to extending the pain of such tragedies, he said this was the whole idea behind the memorial! "Does brushing aside the incidents lessen the pain and increase the safety of women," he asked.

The forum has begun talks with some local architects and are in the process of fund collection for the memorial, they say. "It is a memorial for a social cause and we hope that there would be some sculptors who would volunteer to take up the statue's design and fabrication and we will then follow it up," Nutan Thakur told IANS.

The forum is also in the process of talking to the parents and families of such victims and will try to detail the life they lived and the macabre ends they met. "We would also try to asses, assimilate and showcase how normal dreams were shattered due to the uncontrolled lust and unchecked criminal instincts," Nutan Thakur said.

Uttar Pradesh has recorded a quantum jump of 55 per cent in sexual crimes and rapes over the previous year, union home ministry data shows. Politicians and police, however, chose to look the other way. May be, the memorial will shame them enough! One can only keep one's fingers crossed.

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