Wedding Vows is a happy, feel-good magazine, designed to celebrate the happy moments and sacred relationships in our lives. This month, however, I cannot help but recall the chilling events of last December when a 23-year-old Delhi-based physiotherapy student’s life was snuffed out in yet another instance of gender violence that now dot newspapers with alarming frequency. A happy wedding was not in her destiny.
But her death achieved what nothing else could: A dynamic, impassioned public debate on gender equality and imbalanced social codes, leading to new anti-rape laws. The media took up her cause – and that of other unfortunate women in similar circumstances such as the Shakti Mills gang-rape survivor in Mumbai – with gusto and integrity. Last month, though, the spotlight turned right back on the media itself, with the incident at Tehelka’s ThinkFest held in Goa. When the editor-in-chief of one of India’s most respected magazines – one that has frequently argued for women’s rights in the past – turns into sexual predator, it does ring several alarm bells.
What the incident did manage, however, was to highlight the courage of the young journalist who stood up to her boss and organisation for her rights and dignity. Not unlike the two gang-rape victims, she was unhesitant about giving her full testimony in the pursuit of justice, fearless about social censure, undaunted by cultural taboos. All in their early 20s, these three women mark the dawn of a new era of feminism in India. While the country’s skewed sex-ratio and increasing incidents of gender violence do portend further evil, I am hopeful for the future of our nation with girls like these. May their tribe increase.
First published in the December 2013 issue of Wedding Vows