What can we do if our society itself is sick?
Four months after my daughter was raped, a five-year-old girl has met the same fate... What can we do if our society itself is sick? I don't know...
Four months after my daughter was raped, a five-year-old girl has met the same fate... What can we do if our society itself is sick? I don't know what to say. I don't know whom to blame." These were the heart-rending words of Badrinath Singh, the father of Delhi's braveheart whose brutal gang rape on December 16 triggered national outrage.
The audience bonded instantly with Singh and his wife Asha Devi as the couple wept while accepting the India Today Most Inspiring Woman of the Year Award on behalf of their daughter. The couple's tears resonated quietly in the packed hall as many in the audience struggled to hold their tears.
"Punish the guilty, amend the laws. I request everyone to do all they can to prevent any other woman from being raped," said Asha Devi at the function. The appeal best reflected the message of the summit � 'celebration of womanhood'.
The award presentation was preceded by "India Today Woman Summit" organised by the TV Today Group on Friday. A Addressing the Summit, Union Minister Jayanti Natarajan said the juvenile accused in gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya in December is "old enough to undergo punishment", as he was old enough to commit the crime.
Natarajan said the accused was "only a few days short of becoming a major" before he raped the 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who later succumbed to her grievous injuries. "I believe if a minor is old enough to rape, he is old enough to undergo punishment� In this particular case, I think he was only a few days short of becoming a major and he should be punished," she said.
Natajan also assured the gathering that justice would be done in the case as it was being heard in the court on daily basis. "The trial is going on every day. For the first time there is a day-to-day trial which never happened earlier� There will be punishment in the case," the Union Environment Minister said.
Participating in an open discussion on the 'changing role of women and the challenges faced by them' along with BJP's vice president Smriti Irani, Natarajan also told the gathering that the Women's Reservation Bill will be passed in the Lok Sabha also.
"We will make it happen in the Lok Sabha. We made the Women's Reservation Bill happen in the Rajya Sabha, we'll make it happen in the Lok Sabha also," she said. She also termed the low conviction rate in rape cases as pathetic. "The last crime records which I read for 2011, some 35,356 rape cases were reported but millions of cases go unreported. And there were less than 4,200 convictions. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic," Natarajan said.
Stating that one has to take "people along" in democracy, the Environment Minister said, "We are trying to change the system, we are fighting, there is a rule of law, we are fighting to change the law. Every time we talk about changing the provisions of the law, there are hundreds of people who say there is a rule of law in this country."
Irani accepted Natarajan's view of upholding the democracy even while giving punishment to a criminal. "This is the price we pay for a democracy that we even uphold the rights of a rapist," she said. The two leaders were unanimous on gender sensitisation and increasing participation of women in day-to-day decision making process. "Gender sensitisation is the collective responsibility of both men and women politician," Irani said.