Suicide should not derail justice

Yesterday, Ram Singh, one of the prime accused in the Delhi gang rape case hanged himself at Tihar jail. The hanging comes in the midst of the trial for the case that sparked protests across the nation. The rape also catapulted India into the eyes of the world for all the wrong reasons — the Capital’sdismal track record of safety for women, cultural attitudes towards sexual violence against women and the legal process with reference to the crime of rape.

India became the country shamed on the global stage for its treatment of women. International news agencies pulled out data pointing out incidents of how Indian women are sexually harassed on streets, and the stifling constraints imposed on them by society.

Now, with this suicide it is important that the focus remain steadfast. It is disappointing that authorities did not take stringent care to see that the accused did not get away, and get away this is, especially when one is facing a probable death sentence.

Post the rape, all eyes were on the ongoing trial, as the nation awaited the verdict. But now, temporarily at least, the matter will be hijacked by the suicide. With allegations and accusations flying back ‘n’ forth about it being a murder, the muck is swirling all over the place.

It is vital that we keep the focus on the aim — justice for the dead rape victim, so that her family at least has some small solace and a modicum of closure. It is also important to note that even after the shocking case, rapes and molestation cases continue to occur with despairing frequency. A look at the laws, changing mindsets, better shelters for victims of sexual violence, and less judgmental attitudes are the need of the hour now. Do not let this suicide take away attention from these priorities.  

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