'I want to be the criminal who kills the rapist.'
On Sunday, December 1, an incredible act of bravery took place in Mumbai.
Bhavya Reddy, the sister of the veterinary doctor who was brutally gang-raped and burnt to death last week, sent a recorded message to the Mumbai edition of We The Women, an annual event curated by Barkha Dutt.
Holding on to every reserve of her strength, the young woman had this to say.
Also appearing on the show was a friend of the family, Poonam Kaur.
Her voice, wet with unshed tears and raging with anger, Poonam said, "I want to be the criminal who kills the rapist."
The victim's neighbours have thrown a cordon around the family, protecting them from anyone trying to take advantage of the situation.
Leaders from various political parties, who wanted to visit the grieving family, have been turned back from the gated community where they live.
Poonam gave a glimpse of the grief the family was struggling with.
The intense anger this case has generated forced Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao to order the setting up of a fast track court.
Meanwhile, Barkha reveals some shocking statistics.
"While more women are reporting rape," she said, "there is a decline in the number of convictions. So, while the number of reported cases of sexual harassment and abuse has gone up by 40 per cent, there has been a historic low in 2016 of the number of convictions down to 18.6 per cent."
Poonam added, "There are crimes which are reported and there are crimes which are never reported."
While the law was meant to "give us freedom" and "discipline in society", she said, it has instead "crippled us".
Gathering all her courage in a deep breath, Poonam revealed for the first time that she too was a survivor, "I'm an educated girl from a good family. I was a very, very good student. I was 17 years old. And it took me 10 years to get over it."
She urged the girls and the women in the audience to stop suffering "silently" and "take strength" from the survivors and their families fighting for justice.
Text: SAVERA R SOMESHWAR