by Manavi Nag
It’s a normal Wednesday evening and a 27-year-old vet, Priyanka Reddy from Hyderabad, is returning home after completing some work in a hospital in Kolluru Village in Hyderabad. Its slightly humid, the atmosphere of the evening mist is present. Priyanka Reddy has parked her scooter at a Toll Plaza to take a taxi to her destination. Strange men look at her, rolling their eyes up and down her body. Four 20-24-year-old lorry drivers have hatched the idea of slitting or puncturing Priyanka’s scooter’s tire, so she is unable to leave. They would then proceed to rape her. When she returned the men pointed out the salient puncture that her tire had. The men offer to help Priyanka and send someone to get her motorcycle repaired. After some time, the man returns saying all the shops were closed. Priyanka tried to say something but the men dragged her off the road into a secluded area. They brutally raped her and set her body on fire to hide any traces of what happened. Priyanka Reddy was there until she wasn’t.
In Priyanka Reddy’s last phone call to her sister, she expresses fear as she is stuck in a place with many unknown men. Her sister told her to walk to the nearest toll gate and just wait there.
The four men dumped Priyanka’s body under a bridge and then lit her of fire. The next morning, a milkman found her body.
The Priyanka Reddy rape case has caused global uproar and worries for all women in India. Priyanka Reddy’s rape case is certainly not a one-off. In India, a woman is raped every twenty minutes. What’s worse is that there is nothing done about it. According to Thomson’s Reuters Foundation Survey conducted last year, India is the most dangerous place to be a woman. And Priyanka Reddy’s rape has solidified that and set it in stone. If there was any beam or shred of hope to prove that statistic wrong, it’s gone. The Reddy Rape has plunged a dagger into any last shred of hope for the safety of women in India.
Seven years ago, after the Nirbhaya Rape Case took the world by storm, the government put aside 10 billion rupees to support initiatives to help women’s safety. Seven years later, 91% of that fund has remained untouched. This further highlights the depth and scale at which India deals with rape. The Priyanka Reddy case has brought up the elephant in the room once more. Rape culture in India.
Rape culture in India has been taboo and still is taboo, but with low security for women, unproductive law enforcement and simple disregard for rape in India, it continues to carry on. From cheap gawks on the street to gang rapes happening every twenty minutes, India doesn’t seem to care about the women of their country. Surrounded by fear, animosity and an extra amount of caution, women are forced to make changes to their clothing, personalities, behavior and so much more, just to ensure their safety.
Rape culture in India constantly blames the victim. It doesn’t explore the fact that the perpetrator may be in the wrong. The victim’s clothes but have been too skimpy, the victim must have been conducting her self in a way which invited rape or she many have been asking for it. Old-fashioned and primitive, this is the mentality that still lives in the minds of many Indians today. This is the mentality that hinders rape from reducing and this is the mentality that causes the victim to suffer instead of the perpetrator.
Some could even argue that it is the same mentality in the spine of India’s justice system and police system with 133,000 pending rape cases. With the wave of #Me too and media bring to light the victim’s stories, we can only hope that we see some improvements in the number of rape cases in India.
Being ranked the most dangerous country in the world for women is worrisome and questions all of India’s exponential development and growth because of how many steps back we have shifted, as a country, in terms of safety and security for all women and citizens.