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'What occurred in Delhi can happen to any one of us'

Last updated on: December 30, 2012 15:31 IST

'What occurred in Delhi can happen to any one of us'

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S Saraswathi in Chennai

Religious leaders from different faiths led a prayer meeting in Chennai to condole the death of the Delhi gangrape victim. S Saraswathi and Sriram Selvaraj report

The Indian Community Welfare Organisation Chennai on Saturday organised a condolence and candle light prayer meeting for the 23-year-old Delhi girl who succumbed to her injuries 13 days after she was brutally gangraped in a moving bus.

Members from various groups, organisations, associations, and companies in Chennai attended the meeting. Various religious leaders -- Pastor Sam L Madurai Nayagam, El Shadai Blessing Church Chintadripet, Imas Hafis Mohammed, Thoufeeq Masjid Al Falah NSK Nagar and Hariharan, Gurukal, Vilayaattu Vinayagar Temple at T Nagar -- offered their prayers to show their sympathy and commiseration for the victim christened 'Damini' or 'Nirbhaya' by the media and to bring peace for her family and friends.

"The need of the hour is to come together and pray to express our solidarity and support against this heinous crime. I sincerely wish that all our prayers will help her soul rest in peace. The ICWO is committed to influence and advocate strong legal laws protecting women. The society as a whole should take responsibility, every individual should be made accountable," said A J Harihran, Founder Secretary of the organisation.

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Image: Members of the Indian Community Welfare Organisation hold a candle light prayer meeting in Chennai
Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj/Rediff.com

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'We need strict laws and proper implementation'

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"Besides strict laws, we also need to teach our women to defend themselves. Self defense techniques should be taught to all girls. The ICWO has trained several women in this respect. We should create awareness in the community so that our girls understand the potential dangers they could face. We can no longer think that such things will not happen to us, every woman is vulnerable, added Hariharan.

The prayers went on beautifully with each religious head reciting prayers in their respective language.

The members lit candles and offered prayers for the victim, and prayed that such crimes never occur again.

"There should be strict laws and proper implementation by the officials, only then people will be afraid to commit such horrific crimes," said Devika, a member of the organisation.

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Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj/Rediff.com

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'I am scared to venture out alone'

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"It was such a vicious and shameful act; no women should ever be forced to undergo such torture. The culprits of this crime should be severely punished to teach a lesson to other criminals, said 24-year-old Lydia.

Margaret, a young 23-year-old said, "There is no safety for women in Chennai or for that matter anywhere in our country, what happened to this girl in Delhi happens on a daily basis throughout our country. This particular incident has sent shock waves and it has made people sit up and take notice. It is shocking to see so many rape and sexual abuse cases being reported, but for the hundreds of cases that are reported, there are still hundreds which are not. These crimes are increasing every day and the government should take necessary steps to stop further crime against women in India. Today when I hear of such terrible incidents, I am scared to venture out alone. My parents too are scared; they ask me to return early and not get into autos alone. This particular incident has made us all aware of what can happen to us. After I heard about her death, I was so shocked, for sometime I could not move, it is so scary."

Others like Pastor Sam L Madurai Nayagam, Imas Hafis Mohammed and Hariharan also shared their sentiments. "Only stricter laws and their implementation can be a solution to such ghastly crimes. It is time the government takes some strict action. We are here together to show our solidarity and support to the community, and to pray for the victim and her family. May her soul rest in peace," they said.

"Like the Human Rights Commission, we should have a Women Rights Commission. Rape victims should not be forced to go to the police station and be disgraced. Special cells should be set up to deal with only these issues. The victim should be made to feel comfortable and not be afraid of the potential outcome. So many cases go unreported because of this fear, said Surendra, a student of Social Work from Patrician College of Arts & Science, Adyar Chennai.


Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj/Rediff.com

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