Justice For Nirbhaya: In Conversation With Her Mother Asha Devi
It has been four years since the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape, when a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh, was lured into a private bus and then beaten, gang raped, and tortured. The incident led to protests across the country, with calls for justice continuing to ring. ANWARUL HODA met with the victim’s mother Asha Devi. Excerpts:
Q. It has been four years, how are you coping?
There have only been disappointments in these four years. Since the case is in Supreme Court and the legal procedure is taking its due course, I am hopeful that someday culprits will be hanged.
Q. You asked for justice, what did you actually mean by it?
Justice for me is what begins with ensuring security and providing some convenience to the victims. Things like registering FIR to punishing culprits on time is justice for me. The family of the victim suffers a lot and it is not easy for them to keep struggling with police and judiciary for years. I don’t understand how an upper court is wasting so much time on reading and following the same proofs for a new judgment, when a lower court has already passed a judgment on the basis of the same facts and proofs. It affects the morale of victim while culprits enjoy their leisure.
A victim has to prove the abuse faced by her several times over, while the accused find many ways to get out from custody. At least in cases of rapes there must be some specified time for delivery of justice.
Q. It’s never easy to quest for justice, how do you manage your activism and household? And how did you get the idea of forming an organization?
It’s really tough for me. Many times I fail my kids in providing them with breakfast or lunch. Regular visits to the court adds extra burden to me. The inspiration of organizing an NGO came from this hardship. I know whatever I do, I can’t have my daughter back and there are millions like me. I also know no one will come to support me when it comes to legal or any other matter. What I am trying to do is to stand by them and to minimize the act of violence on women.
Q. Your NGO is to support the women who have experienced violence, how do you reach out to them? And how many women could you reach out to? Give us a brief.
We are in touch with many but I must say whatever we want to do we are unable to since we lack financial as well as manpower support. We want to support the victims in terms of medical, psychological and in legal proceedings, but due to lack of funds we are failing in supporting them in legal matters.
Whatever work we have done is voluntary and you can understand how much time a volunteer can give.
Nobody takes interest in rape cases. Be it either police or any other person, until it is run actively by the media. Whatever work we are doing is not easy, but the awareness we intend to generate is crucial.
Q. The case is still in court, and one of the culprits was a juvenile. What are you expecting out of the judgement?
The (juvenile offender) is out now, after 3 years of jail, since he was juvenile and through available legal measures, he is roaming free. We tried every possible act within the legal framework to punish him since he was most violent amongst all; we filed petitions but it got rejected.
Q. The recent juvenile act is about punishing any culprit above 16 years involved in a heinous crime. Do you think this will solve the larger problem of rape? And do you see a possible misuse of this act?
Yes I understand the misuse and there is huge possibility for the misuse of the act but what is the police for? Why are investigations carried out? What are the courts for? Why are they formed? Isn’t it their responsibility to protect the law from any misuse?
Don’t you know when in a case where every evidence or fact is available it is passes through various phases of investigations? So why can’t a manipulated case be filtered through these procedures? Courts have the ability to judge the cases, so why are they resisting?
Q. Did any politicians or parties or any NGO come to you to stand by you in your quest for justice?
No, no one came to us. They made tall promises on public platforms which never materialised. We rushed to court alone without any political support or any form of help. These days, mostly people refuse us when asked for support by saying we can’t do anything since the case is in the Supreme Court.
Q. Once you get justice, what will be your next move?
This case of Nirbhaya is exceptional. If we don’t get justice in this then how can we assure justice for anything? We need justice in this case to move further. Right now, we are occupied with many things related to this pending case. Once we get justice, I will be able to get involved freely in the larger issues of women safety and security.