How Many More Nirbhayas Do We Need Before We Prioritise Women’s Safety?

Dr Priyanka Reddy, a veterinary doctor from Shamshabad in Hyderabad was found dead with her body partially burnt under Chatanpalli bridge in Shadnagar, Hyderabad Image credit - AFP Via Getty Images

The truth that our towns and cities in India continue to be unsafe and inhospitable to women became clear to us once again as we witnessed the brutality with which an aspiring young veterinary doctor was raped and murdered in Hyderabad. 

The gang-rape and murder of the 27 year old victim in Hyderabad throws light on the lack of safety and its resultant implications on women’s lives and makes us ask some pertinent questions about the nation’s priorities and infrastructural preparedness as far as women’s security is concerned.

The victim’s charred body was found dumped in an under-pass in the suburbs of the city’s capital adjacent to the Bangalore-Hyderabad national highway-44 and the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. 

The body was found by the city police in the wee hours of the morning, the discovery has raised concerns all over the country regarding the safety of women in the country and to the extent to which this is a priority for the nation-state.

It is sad that amongst a variety of reactions that such a devastating incident has evoked on social media, are some people who have not waited even a moment to give this whole incident a communal colour. It is ironic that even in such an incident some Right leaning individuals are seeing the play of communal politics rather than raising the more pertinent and important debates around women’s safety and access to public spaces in the country. 

They were quick to point that a Muslim youth was behind the crime. However, the fact is that three of the four people accused in the crime were of a different faith and this therefore puts an end to the communal colour that was being given to the devastating incident.

The victim, a young veterinary doctor was returning back home from work when such an unfortunate and condemnable incident took place. The victim is suspected to have been gang-raped after being kidnapped by four men and later murdered and burnt. The culprits searched for an isolated place and burnt her in a bid to destroy all evidence. 

The body was identified by her parents based on the locket that she used to wear and a scarf that she had worn to work that day.

The rape and subsequent death of the young woman has raised widespread public outrage and an array of reactions and counter-reactions on social media platforms. Students too have been taking out rallies demanding justice for the victim in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. 

The brutality with which she was gang-raped and murdered has let many people refer to her case as Nirbhaya-2. 

It is only paradoxical to see that at a time when Hyderabad is projecting itself as the second capital of the country and is celebrating its separation from Andhra Pradesh and boasting its walk upon the path of development and fast economic growth- it has failed to protect and create a safe environment for its women population.

To add to the series of crimes and heinous incidences against women, another female body was found burning on Saturday at Saidulgutta in the same locality where the Hyderabad veterinarian was killed barely a few hours ago. 

The brutal crime has sparked off a debate on women’s safety and from politicians, activists, media persons and film celebrities to sport persons and officials- everyone has gone ahead and condemned the incident. The brutal crime has indeed once again made everyone rethink the tragic state of women’s safety in India and the decline of all humanitarian values and ethics from our society. 

How could anyone go to the extent of subjecting another human being to such unprovoked violence and pain?

What those men did to these two women will forever continue to remind us of the dark, brutal, inhuman and thoroughly inhospitable world that we have made for our women. 

It is nothing but a reminder of the failure of our civilisation and its inability to treat women with dignity and respect even in the present century!

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