There is a certain viciousness in society that expresses itself against women all over India. More so in the North, with Delhi epitomising the degradation that targets women without thought or remorse. The hideous death of 20 year old Anjali Singh exposes the the rot that has been deepened through a strange kind of legitimacy delivered through inaction and callousness on the part of authorities, and a voyeurism that thrives around and against women.

It was reflected this morning in a headline given by a normally respected newspaper. Well at least respected than many others in these days. The headline announcing Anjalii Singh's death started with the word 'Ambitious', an adjective that in news parlance works only if it has attributed to her death. In the absence of this it is a judgement delivered by the newspaper, a highlighting of an attribute that usually is used in the negative sense against women per se. The story of course, does not merit the headline as it speaks of a 20 year old girl trying to provide for her family, and at the same time interested like all girls her age in make up and clothes even as she nurtures her dreams. She was the sole bread earner as her father died, and Anjali had to drop out of school to provide for her ailing mother and siblings.

Anjali's is the story of so many women in Delhi. A story of struggle and determination.She gave her first gift to herself – a purple scooter in her favourite colour to make it easier to travel. And according to the first reports emanating from police sources of course, five reportedly drunk young men in a car hit her, and dragged her body for 10 kilometres. She was found with broken bones and without clothes leading her mother to insist that she was sexually assaulted. The police acted only after strong protests by locals who demanded justice for Anjali and her grieving family.

Delhi remains unsafe and scary for women, regardless of age and status. Rape and harassment and threats have become part and parcel of life for women struggling to make a livelihood in the capital. The story of every other woman, be she a blue or white collar worker, is of exploitation at both the workplace and at home. Rape is a reality not just a threat; domestic violence afflicts households; discrimination begins from birth; and women find it difficult to get help even in dire circumstances.

It is imperative for the thought process to change, for reforms to enter every home so that the girl child is respected and wanted and loved. As most ails emanate from this societal response to the birth of a girl child, with abortions still rampant despite the laws. The girl who faces discrimination in schooling, in her upbringing, in acceptance continues to struggle her life through — with the larger environment not providing the safety and security she needs so desperately. There are hundreds of cases of sexual assault not being reported or recorded, as families like to bury the 'stigma' rather than ensure justice for their girl. And themselves.

Governments come and go insisting they will make life different for women. It has not happened, and in fact seems to have worsened over the years. Respect and dignity is denied women from birth and until society realises and atones for this, women will continue to suffer. At the moment there seems to be no end in sight.