We do not wish to be India’s daughters.
On the 14th of September, 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit woman from the city of Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, was brutally gang-raped by four upper-caste men. They also gouged out her eyes, cut off her tongue, and broke her spinal cord because of which she suffered multiple fractures and intense bleeding. On the 29th of September, she succumbed to her injuries and became just another statistic in India — a country in which a woman is raped every 15 minutes.
While all four accused were arrested, the Uttar Pradesh police refused to hand over the woman’s mortal remains to her family and forcefully cremated her in the early hours of the 30th of September. The horrendous incident (rightly) sparked outrage amongst Indians with many protesting the actions of the police and demanding an end to our country’s prevalent rape culture.
Like many, many other women before her, Manisha Valmiki was christened ‘India’s daughter’, because that’s who you become when something horrific and unspeakable happens to you.
Mere hours after Manisha’s death, a 22-year-old Dalit woman from Balrampur, also in Uttar Pradesh, died after being drugged and gang-raped by two men. She also became India’s daughter — a woman who serves as a carriage for the country’s guilt.
Remember the Unnao rape victim? She was also India’s daughter — a woman who bears the weight of our country’s collective failure. 8-year-old Asifa was also India’s daughter and so was Priyanka Reddy. And then there was Jyoti Singh — India’s Nirbhaya, perhaps India’s first daughter.
Being India’s daughter entails a lot of pressure and sacrifices. You have to endure the pain of being reduced to a mere object. You have to put up with the ordeal of being consistently robbed of your agency. You have to suffer at the hands of a system that stands against you in every imaginable way. Being India’s daughter is synonymous with having your existence erased in the most gruesome manner possible. Being India’s daughter is having justice denied to you at every step of the way.
We carry fear within us. We carry rage. We carry sadness. But we do not wish to carry more burdens because being India’s daughter is a burden.
It shouldn’t be our cross to carry.
We’re not your daughters. We do not wish to be your daughters. Because nothing good ever comes out of being India’s daughter.
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