Chandigarh, December 20, 2012: “Rape Raj”, “Defiled we stand”, “Too late to wait.” “Needed Zero tolerance for crimes against women”, so read some of the placards carried by hundreds of people from all walks of life as they held a silent protest against increasing number of instances of violence against women, especially the recent Delhi gang-rape here today.
The Sector 17 Plaza brimmed over with young and old alike, carrying placards and holding candles as a mark of solidarity with the 23-year-old rape victim battling for her life. The protest was organised under the aegis of Chandigarh Citizens’ Forum for Common Cause (4Cs), a newly formed platform set up by a group of young professionals and social activists.
“As a woman and a mother, this incident has given me sleepless nights. I am willing to do anything to ensure that it is never repeated”, said Ritesh Vashisht, a real estate professional, who was accompanied by her eight-year-old daughter.
Her sentiments found an echo in the surging crowd of protesters that continued to grow as the sun set. “As a feminist, I strongly feel prevention is better than cure. This is a humble beginning to do something more lasting for the safety of women in the tri-city. We pledge to dedicate 2013 to the safety of women. Chandigarh should be one place where they can walk with their heads held high and the minds without fear,” said Poonam Batth, a media person and one of the core members of the Forum.
Others from the Forum underlined the need to strengthen the social fabric. “While it is important to amend the law, crimes of this nature can be prevented only by a change of hearts and minds. And this can be achieved with the help of meditation and soul-searching, beginning from childhood,” said Amit Sharma, a corporate honcho and a meditation expert.
Pramod Sharma, coordinator of Yuvsatta, who was at the protest with his volunteers, said: “Now, no longer we can put the burden on women to be sensible, safe, suspicious or learn self-defence to combat assaults. It is time to turn outrage into action.” Agreeing with him, Saguna Jain, an event manager, said it was important to stop making women a commodity to weed out such crimes.
Narvijay Yadav, founder president, Prakash Foundation highlighted the need “to train women and girls in self defence and martial arts.”
Members of Chandigarh Senior Citizen’s Association, YUVA-Bapu Dham and Rotract Club also came in large numbers to support the initiative. The forum 4Cs plans to hold a series of events throughout the year to raise awareness about this issue, beginning with a meditation session at the Garden of Silence at Sukhna Lake.