Delhi CM Sheila Dixit Must Take Responsibility for the
Horrific Gang Rape in a Delhi Bus and Resign!
Delhi Police Commissioner Must Resign!
The Press Statement Issued by
AISA, AIPWA, RYA on 19 December, 2012, Delhi
Students from Delhi University, JNU, and Jamia Millia Islamia, women from Delhi’s slum clusters, workers, and citizens from many walks of life are protesting today at the Delhi CM Sheila Dixit’s residence, demanding her resignation over the horrific gang rape of a young woman in a Delhi bus. The protest has been organized by the All India Students’ Association (AISA), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), and the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA).
We hold the Delhi CM Sheila Dixit responsible for the insecurity of women in Delhi. In the case of the gang rape in a bus, it is shocking that a private bus, unaccountable to any norms or regulations, has been free to ply Delhi’s streets. The state of affairs is such that this bus, manned by a bunch of heinous rapists, has been doubling as a school bus in the capital city!
Further, when a journalist Sowmya was murdered some years back, the CM Sheila Dixit had responded by calling her ‘rash and reckless’ for being out late at night. The Delhi police chief in a press conference some months ago, had declared that the police could not be expected to provide protection if women insisted on venturing out alone at 2 am. Senior police officers in the Delhi-NCR region, in a sting operation by Tehelka magazine, had declared that rape complaints were as a rule fake, and that women who dressed ‘provocatively’ should expect to be raped.
The culture of blaming women for ‘provoking’ sexual violence by being out late at night or wearing ‘provocative’ clothing is a shameful attempt to justify violence on women. Those in public positions of government, police or judiciary who blame women for sexual violence must resign. We demand the resignation of the Delhi CM and the Delhi Police Commissioner.
We demand that the rapists in the bus gang-rape case be booked for rape as well as attempt to murder, since their assault has left the victim’s life in danger. This case also underlines the need for changes in the laws on rape. Under the present law, rape by insertion of an object is not recognized as rape. We demand that a comprehensive law on sexual assault be enacted without delay, in consultation with women’s movement organizations.
We condemn the statement of BJP MP Sushma Swaraj in Parliament, that even if the rape victim survives, she would be a ‘living corpse’ for the rest of her life. This culture of telling women that ‘there is no life after rape,’ and shaming rape victims, must be condemned in the strongest terms. We must ensure that rape survivors live the fullest possible life with their head held high – and the first condition of this is that they get justice, that the perpetrators spend the rest of their life in jail.
In the Delhi bus gang rape case, the woman victim and her male friend had boarded a bus. When a bunch of men on the bus began sexual harassment, making lewd remarks about the man and the woman, the latter resisted fiercely and boldly. The men then decided to ‘teach her a lesson’ –raping and brutalizing her in the moving bus and dumping her along with her friend on the street.
What we need to recognize is that the widespread and growing rapes in Delhi are, in fact, motivated by the patriarchal urge to ‘teach women a lesson’ for seeking equality and dignity and for asserting their freedom. The problem is that the political parties, police and judiciary are not defending and asserting women’s freedom. Even when they talk of ‘protecting’ women, they do so by advising women to dress and move ‘carefully,’ thereby justifying the rapes by implying it is natural for men to rape women who defy patriarchal norms.
We are appalled by the fact that the Delhi Police’s ad campaign against violence on women features no women – rather, it features a male actor, urging men to ‘Be a man’ and ‘Protect women’! Instead of such campaigns that reinforce patriarchy, we demand that institutions including governments, police and judiciary be accountable to defending and safeguarding women’s unqualified freedom and right to live without fear of violence, in the home or the street; day or night; irrespective of what they wear or do.
AISA students of JNU participated in large numbers in protests called by the JNUSU at the Vasant Vihar police station on 17 December and blockaded the road (chakka jam) near the Vasant Vihar PS in Munirka for 3 hours on 18 December to protest against the rape.