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The general growth and development of nation chiefly relies on the utmost utilization of people that is men and women. The past decades have witnessed substantial and verifiably uncommon growth of women rights at economic as well as political domain in India whereby women constitutes around 50% of the aggregate population. However, with recent changes and developments in the nation, women gradually started recognizing their true potential. In recent times, women in India have outshined in almost all domains starting from engaging to social work to their contribution to science and technology (Ahmed, Jaidka & Cho, 2017). Renowned female personalities like Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy and in film industry women such as Rekha, Vidya Balan, Priyanka Chopra and political figures like Indira Gandhi have served decisive role in their respective fields not only by playing feminised roles but have claimed them over the male dominated sphere of the Indian society. Regardless of these achievements, over 65% of cases of crime against women in 2015 has been reported which exhibited an undermined condition of women’s status in the country (Chaudhuri, 2014). The aim of the report is to analyse the grave case of Nirbhaya, identified as one of the gruesome gang rape incidents that occurred in 2012 that sheds light on the current status of women in the Indian society.
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New Delhi in December 2012 witnessed a ghastly crime which involved a 23 year old female medical student was brutally raped and fatally assaulted by a gang in a private bus along with her friend Awindra Pratap Pandey and later dumped onto the highway unconscious and severely injured. Reports of Dey and Orton (2016) have revealed that more than a week subsequent to the violent attack, the victim was shifted to Singapore for improved emergency medical treatment but surrendered to her severe physical injuries after two days. Such a horrific incident of rape and fatal assault of a young woman generated substantial level of national as well as international exposure and received extensive criticism in India and worldwide. Furthermore, several public remonstrations and dissent began to initiate not only in opposition to the state but also against central governments. Such opposition rose primarily for significant incompetence shown by state and central government in providing ample level of security and protection for women thus led the occurrence of such a ghastly incident of Nirbhaya (Inchley, 2015). The serious case of Nirbhaya not only instigated wide range of protests and complaints all across the nation but also in few foreign nations like Canada. As per studies of Kaur, (2017), with the prohibition of the Indian Law in revealing the actual identity of the victim, the media named Jyoti Singh ‘Nirbhaya’, which means ‘the fearless one’. Furthermore, the unrelenting struggle, pain and later demise of Nirbhaya gradually developed as a symbol of women’s’ opposition and resistance towards brutal act of rape in the world.
‘Nirbhaya’ case typically regarded as India’s Arab Spring has been recognized by unprecedented public indignation on social media and on the ground (Flesher Fominaya & Gillan, 2017). These remonstrations involved several demands which conflicted in opposition to the unsatisfactory and incompetent security, insensitive law and regulations in addition to highly erratic public transport which typically held liable rape victims for the crime inflicted upon them in addition to bureaucracy and red tape in relation to sexual assault and any form of rape incidents. Chaudhuri (2014) has noted that the Nirbhaya movement initiated as a leaderless movement constituting decentralized structure but comprising networked community. Comprehensive studies of Dey and Orton (2016) have opined that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and news media served decisively in arranging and strategizing protests, remonstrations and occupation of public arenas in the Nirbhaya Movement. Social media served highly critical role in assembling the masses and further nurturing the improved levels of involvement in these cases. Drawing relevance to the incidents taken place in December 2012 protests, authors have noted that the Nirbhaya movement not only ignited a fire within youths in India to fight against rape but also integrated diverse individuals across political ideologies as well as classes, and experienced aggression and violence against a non-violent movement from law enforcement agencies as well as other state security forces (Chaudhuri, 2014).
The place of outrage, dissent and emotions in contemporary India has been comprehended from mass confrontation and protest routinely conducted across the nation. Such protest has been performed with an intention to protest the lack of concern of the government towards ghastly crime against women and delayed justice. In addition to the cocoon of urbanization with its newly developed discussion concerning urban issues, there can be witnessed other forms of protests which fail to persist its significance in the public eye for extensive period. Della Porta and Mattoni (2014) have cited the instances of increased disturbances in north-western region of India where women removed their clothes and protested their resistance towards sexual crimes committed by Central Reserve Police Force. Furthermore, reports of Forno and Graziano (2014) have revealed incidents of remonstrations by farmers in the North West with an aim of seeking higher rate of remuneration for damaged crops. For instance, Irom Sharmila also recognized as the ‘Iron Lady’ is continuing her 15th year of fast-unto-death with an aim of showing grievance against the Special Forces Act instated to defend the Army in areas of civil strife in addition to an upper class caste in western region of India with a demand of attaining authorities and privileges in employment sector as well as educational institutions. Likewise, the Nirbhaya movement has been identified as another crucial example of such social movement. In addition to its harmonization and in support of the large urban middle-class general public in the national capital, Nirbhaya Movement has been identified as one of the primary explanations following an extensive involvement and incessant media attention (Safi, 2019)..
On the other hand, progressive approach evinced significant obligation to the notion of equality and authorities over individual bodies, aims and sexuality. According to Dey and Orton (2016), the subjugated ideas have supported by the ones perceived the previously developed perception former, specifically the “reductive” problematisation of women’s rising level of self-regulation and freedom has been viewed as a cause of violence which has been indisputably rejected. However, progressions which arose in the course of the cycle of protests crystallised certain issues focused by media. However, with cycle of protests and collective action from state and local issues related to masculinity, misogyny as well as social approaches on the subject of crimes and sexual violence against women has gradually attained a fundamental position in the Indian media on Nirbhaya case. However, these evidences do not draw suggestions that the Nirbhaya rape case with all of public discussion comprised of nuanced debate of the varied areas of concerns fundamental to gender-based aggression and brutality. Drawing contradictions, Chong (2014) has noted that remonstrations and mobilisations which emerged in response to the case have been influenced by reflexive demands for instant justice for victim.
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The association between given or chief identities in addition to collective identities have been conceptualized in a range of ways by identifying active reflexive construction drawn in in generating movement collective identities. Inchley (2015) has noted that the rise of social media has resulted to serious discussions whether social movements efficiently alter collective identity formation online in social movements. Meanwhile, Della Porta and Mattoni (2014) have noted that have argued that social media tends to raise the interactive as well as collective elements of collective identity, thus producing a political affairs of visibility in what is regarded as “cloud protesting.” At this juncture, Forno and Graziano (2014) have clearly challenged the arguments posed by other scholars stating that social media have made collective identity processes principally unnecessary. Drawing insights from these evidences authors have noted that Nirbhaya rape mobilizations has suggested that social media has been highly significant in offering a platform which women can use in order to put forward their narrations of rape or incidents of sexual violence and such opportunity to be vocal about these ghastly incidents against women and being no more silent formed a master frame for mobilization which relied greatly on shared collective identity (Chong, 2014).
Hence to conclude, the importance of the movement surpassed the incident of Nirbhaya rape case and opened avenues and discourses regarding similar gruesome crimes against women. The incessant media attention and collective action have established coherent space for discussion on the subject of sexual violence where social activists and journalists addressed issues which have formerly been neglected by mainstream narratives and caste based sexual violence in rural areas, and marital rape. Furthermore, social media attention facilitated the word ‘survivor’ which started to be applied in public discussions rather than using the word ‘victim’, as activists emphasized on importance of rape being comprehended as another form of violence, in contradiction to its construction as the malevolent form of violence which tends to be imposed upon other individual.
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