When over 20,000 of us sign, we will put up a billboard with the state’s horrific record against women and won’t take it down till the Chief Minister promises a speedy trial and acknowledges the wider rape crisis by committing funds for a programme of education against this rape epidemic.
The 20-year old student who was returning home on a Friday evening was senselessly attacked, gang-raped and murdered in a lawless zone just 20 kilometres outside Kolkata. Like the Delhi rape victim, she studied really hard and was very keen to improve her poor family’s lot through education. But she was up against a system and a government that has continuously undermined women’s rights.
According to official government data, West Bengal has recorded the highest incidence of crimes against women for two consecutive years. Every single day, 80 women in the state experience some form of abuse or violence and these are just the reported cases. Despite becoming the state’s first female Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has shown little interest in empowering women. On the contrary, she has resorted to scathing attacks against victims and protesters and tried to muzzle any form of dissent. But people in her own party are speaking out against such attacks and with local elections around the corner, we can really push for justice and long-term change.
West Bengal goes to the polls on 11 July and Mamata Banerjee needs the votes. Let’s push her now to commit to a speedy trial of the accused and to a public education campaign to change attitudes. Until she does, we’ll keep up a giant billboard in Kolkata showing her state’s abysmal statistics on violence against women.
Avaaz members in India have fought repeatedly for a change of culture to stop India’s rape epidemic. The media has finally increased its reporting of the routine but insane levels of violence against women. We need to come together around all these outrageous cases to seek justice for the victims and demand a better society through public education.
With hope and determination,
Dalia, Alaphia, Ian, Oli, Ricken, Bissan, Meredith and the rest of the Avaaz team