I don’t know her and I’ve never met her. The only thing I know is that she, too, is a youth like me. It may not be wrong for me to assume that she, too, wanted to live happily, she, too, had bundles of dreams, and like every youth, she, too, had oodles of confidence. But I recognize her as a voice that challenged the working of a stereotypical society and acted as a wakeup call for the self-acclaimed intellectual crowd to reflect upon their ignorance. Her name is Sita Rai, the girl who defied silence and shared her story with the world.
When most youngsters in Nepal were talking about the brutal rape case in India and updating their Facebook status demanding justice for the rape victim, a similar story made headlines in many major newspapers in Nepal.
Sita Rai, 22, was robbed by an immigration official and raped by the police at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). But ironically, her story didn’t raise enough eyebrows. I wondered why? Was it because she’s still alive? Or was it because she had the courage to speak about it? Or was it because she didn’t have the much required support from the political parties and organizations to make her the talk of the town?
Cynical, I know, but pessimism is what I derive from the pressure campaign that I attended near the Prime Minister’s Residence in Baluwatar.
A group of young people, along with working professionals, were holding placards and chanting slogans demanding stiff action against the perpetuators and also calling for reforms in the law concerning rape cases. I too held a placard which read “Today it’s Sita, tomorrow it might be someone you know!”
I look around. There’s a crowd chanting slogans and genuinely demanding for justice. But will a few hundred voices bring change? Are there only a few hundred people who care? If not, where’s everyone and where are the young people who are seeking change? Where are the celebrities who harp about rights and responsibilities and where are the people of the civil society who are supposed to cry foul and bring into action every wrongdoing in the society? Where are the intellectuals who are never tired of complaining about the system? But most importantly, where is our humanity? Is it still alive, still?
It’s not only about Sita Rai, it’s about all those people who live in fear, who are silent because they fear the society, all those voices suppressed and all those people who are forced to live lives of scrutiny because they fear no one is going to believe their stories. How many Sita Rais do we need to actually come out in the streets and join the voices for change?
This isn’t a pressure call – Just a request. A call to everyone out there who believes in change and wants an end to such heinous crimes.
The words of a Nepali intellect still echo in my mind, “Nepali people will only come out for a cause if you organize a food festival or a music concert. But again, it won’t be about a cause, it’ll always be about entertainment.”
To prove this statement wrong, join hands, wherever you are, for Sita Rai and millions of other women who live lives of silence.
Find Occupy Balwatar on Facebook and join the cause.
The writer is a radio producer of “Saathisanga Manka Kura.”