who will ring te bell for her

When Ruchika's tormentor was handed over a laughable sentence some months back, the nation was outraged. Television channels were replete with debates on the issue and everyone wondered how the matter would end. It had taken many years to nail the elusive perpetrator and all one got was a suspended sentence and a paltry fine that any one could pay. I too had vented my anger and sadness in a blog entitled will I be safe tomorrow!

Today, six months later, the high profile molester is behind bars. he has been there for a week and will spent at least three more weeks there. The law has caught up with him in spite of all his contacts, his connections and the power he once yielded. That it took over two decades is another matter. It took a public campaign to get him nailed. When young Ruchika was molested there was no 24 hour TV, no activism, no public outcry. The family could just knock at various doors that failed to open. And battle lines were drawn with one side playing dirty. The family was humiliated and scorned. The young girl took her life. Justice remained blind. Even today the accused is behind bars not for having caused the child's death, but for having molested her. Whether he will pay for the bigger crime remains to be seen.

There are millions of Ruchika who suffer in silence every day. They often lock themselves and loose the key. They know that they will not be heard, believed , let alone protected and vindicated. They are far too aware of the reality that surrounds them. They know the might of the adversary and what is often worse is that they often have to continue sharing the same space as most of such cases are perpetrated within the so called safety of one's home. They just suffer in silence and try to perfect the art of becoming invisible, living in fear day after day. How does one protect such children? How does one protect the little girl abused by a kin? Who will ring the bell for her?

I hope that Ruchika's case will help us open our eyes. I hope parents and caretakers will begin to look with their heart and see the reality as it is. That they will reach out to the child who sometimes slowly and almost imperceptibly begins to 'change'. That they will find the time to listen and believe and not be swayed social or other pressures. Till that day does not come little girls will never be safe from lurking predators who prowl secure in the knowledge that no one will dare challenge their power.