Adyar Bakery - since 1952
Vol 5 Issue 29, Jul 18 - 24, 2014
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

It is time society unites to seek justice for Laxmi Orang as it did for the rape victim

   By  Neha Dixit
  
24 Jul 2014
Posted 04-Jan-2013
Vol 4 Issue 1

Short lived memory often leads to naked regret. This apprehension has been repeated time and again in the last fortnight in the light of the Delhi gangrape case.

While the passionate protests managed to percolate the public outrage deep into the crevices of the country, the nature of this wrath was also criticised as essentially middle class.

Laxmi Orang (the girl in this picture) is still fighting for justice

Amidst this criticism, The Weekend Leader dug out the picture of an adivasi woman, stripped naked, being kicked by a man on her private parts. This picture, when juxtaposed to the pictures of the indignant protests in Central Delhi, brings alive all the fears expressed in endorsing the Delhi protests as India’s own feminist movement in making.

There are similarities. In 2007, this adivasi girl, Laxmi Orang, travelled from Japowari Orang Basti in Sonitpuri to Guwahati as a member of the All Assam Adivasi Students’ Association. All of 17 then, Laxmi too believed that she has the right to protest and demand rights.

She and her supporters were demanding ST status for Adivasi people residing in Assam and enhancement of daily wages of tea garden labourers by Rs 70-200 by the small and major tea gardens in Assam. Like the Delhi protests, they too were tear-gassed and lathi-charged.

The commotion separated Laxmi from the rest of the crowd. A group of boys chased her, stripped her naked. While she was being brutally beaten up, the police chose to be its apathetic self and did not come to her rescue.

The next day, the media flashed her naked pictures leading to public outrage. Later, an enquiry commission was set up led by retired Justice Manisana Singh but not much came out of the report except that she was not given a proper hearing.

The fact that she still awaits justice, five years later, is a reminder that public wrath should not be spasmodic. Her case is also an epitome of the state’s nonchalance. It puts into perspective, Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s recent remark, “Tomorrow, if 100 adivasis are killed in Chhattisgarh or Gadchiroli, can the government go there?” It is people like Shinde who spread the malaise of trivialising issues of marginalised communities like the adivasis.

Laxmi, in the current context is not just representing the state atrocities on the working class but also on marginalised communities. The state’s and society’s collective injustice is manifested in their assault against her as a woman.

Earlier this year a girl was publicly assaulted and stripped outside a pub in Guwahati by a mob. Laxmi tried to meet the National Commission of Women members when they visited Guwahati to conduct an enquiry on the pub incident. A case that fizzled in the public memory hardly brings a pat on the back and in this light, the National Commission of Women Chairperson Mamta Sharma asked her to visit her in Delhi instead of taking some serious measures.

Laxmi is 22 now. Her case and the 95,000 pending cases in India are a cruel reminder why it is important to involve as many as her in the debate on rape and sexual assault. The state’s indifference towards the Shopian case in Kashmir, that of Manorama in the northeast, Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh and Laxmi Orang in Assam should not take the shape of the passivity of the masses.

It is incumbent upon the public to start discourse on the misogyny that spreads across states where the most potent weapon to teach a woman a lesson is to strip her, sexually abuse her. The sexual assault on Laxmi Orang is no different from the violence inflicted on a young protester last week when the police dragged her by her hair and slammed her head against the wall near Parliament house while she was protesting against the Delhi gang rape case. The police, like the mob who assaulted Laxmi are indoctrinated with systemic denigration of women. Where an independent woman, demanding her rights, asserting herself is always seen as a threat.

Laxmi has stopped working at the tea garden due to the stigma that followed after her public humiliation. It is this baggage we need to get rid of as a society that puts the woman in the dock instead of the culprits.

Laxmi was offered Rupees two lakhs as compensation which she refused. She is fighting hard to punish the guilty. It is this struggle of Laxmi Orang, who is not a ‘zinda laash (corpse)’ as the Minister of Opposition in Lok Sabha, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, described a rape victim, that needs to be merged with the gender movement the country is witnessing.

Laxmi refused to accept the Rs.2 lakhs the state govt offered as compensation

Where one sexual assault is not pitted against the other to gauge which deserves quicker justice. Where a demand for an equal society is made through reforms and not by easy modes of justice like death penalty and chemical castration. Where a man fears at the thought of sexually assaulting a man or a woman to assert his territory/ supremacy.

For the first time, the country has stood together on the issue of gender. Instead of dividing it on the basis of class and its superficiality, this is the time to engage and to carve a movement that is more inclusive.

To take under its wings women from across classes and castes to pull the ship in a progressive direction, to not douse the collective wrath in public dementia, to espouse Laxmi's fight for justice as the fight of all beings who believe in an egalitarian society.

Neha Dixit is an award winning journalist based in New Delhi

Also Read

Stripped naked in public 5 years ago, tribal girl awaits justice
 



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   

You might also like:

Fishing TV award

Born in a fisherman’s home, Sharada Devi could not study beyond class X. But her social activism and community work brought accolades and an award from a TV channel, says Pamela Philipose

Read More

Rural hero

Narayan Bhide, whose leg was amputated 15 years ago, has set up a BPO in his village giving jobs to those rejected by the so-called reputed companies or those with average academic background

Read More

Stephen Cars
FPJs Meet Vidyaakar
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

People’s doctor

Dr V Shanta heads the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. Active even at 87 years, she talks to Manasa Ramraj about her childhood inspiration, adding: ‘Doctors must learn to treat their patients as human beings and not as mere commodities.’

Read More

Ticket to dream

It was no wild goose chase for Arun Athiappan, when he co-founded TicketGoose.com, a bus ticket booking portal. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur and has been losing sleep to come up with new ideas since he was 12, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

From scrap

By professionalizing the otherwise unorganized scrap market, two MBA students, Apoorva Chaturvedi and Yogesh Sood, have changed the image of the man coming home to buy old newspapers. Asad Ashraf logs on to kabaadiwala.com to check the profit

Read More

Turn crafts

Jharcraft saved ethnic arts and crafts of Jharkhand, stopped traditional weavers and artisans from migrating to cities and gave a sheen to silk production. Kavita Kanan Chandra reports the miracle, attributed to IFS officer Dhirendra Kumar

Read More

Must in Delhi

More than being the hub of power, Delhi has a lot to offer for a visitor. Souzeina S Mushtaq recommends 15 must-see places in India's bustling capital, which is home to over 22 million people

Read More

For farmers

Two IITians, Shashank Kumar and Manish Kumar, went to villages and set up a social enterprise that has touched the lives of hundreds of farmers in Bihar. Kavita Kanan Chandra tells us about their work and innovative agricultural management

Read More

Wild bird care

Animal lovers may abound, but birds from the wild get no medical treatment if they were to meet with an accident. Filling the gap are Nadeem Shazad and Mohammad Saud, who have treated 3000 incapacitated birds in 12 years, says Asad Ashraf

Read More

Lake cleaner

Besides striving to bringing sparrows back, volunteers of Environmentalist Foundation of India clean urban lakes and beaches. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the founder, who earlier worked for Google

Read More

Homegrown scientists

Two green crusaders have proved that they can breed plants in limited space with higher yield. They even made it to the record books, but their work has not got its due recognition since they are not formal scientists, reports Sahana Ghosh

Read More

Once upon a spy

A former RAW officer is now on a mission to rehabilitate a community of people, known to eat rat and called Musahars in Bihar. Realizing that they were joining naxalities, J K Sinha started educating the children. Souzeina S Mushtaq reports

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.