The gang rape of a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist in Delhi on December 16, 2012, had left the nation - and the world- horrified. The incident brought up important questions on the state of governance in the country and the quality of security that the authorities provide for its citizens, especially women and children. While the countrywide protests that followed the gang rape pushed the Union government to set up the three-member Justice Verma Committee, the support for the victim gave many others the courage and confidence to come out and share their experiences of sexual abuse and harassment with the world. For many, it was the first time they could muster courage to reveal that such a thing had happened to them. One such person is musician Anoushka Shankar. On Wednesday, Ms Shankar bravely admitted that she had "suffered various forms of groping, touching, verbal abuse" as a child at the hands of a man her parents "trusted implicitly". Ms Shankar's admission came ahead of the launch of the 'One Billion Rising Movement' which was started by American playwright Eve Ensler. This worldwide movement is a call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rapes and the rape culture end.
Ms Shankar's admission will hopefully encourage many others to come out, speak about their experiences of sexual harassment and also help them realise that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Moreover, it is not always about the victims themselves, but in many cases even parents need support and courage to speak up for their children and such incidents. According to studies, in as many as 90% of situations where a child is sexually harmed, he/she (and often their family) knows the adult, youth or child who is acting in a sexually inappropriate way.
The December 16 gang rape led to a lot of soul searching and debates on women's security, sexual abuse and related issues. It will now be criminal to lose that momentum. Only sustained public pressure will ensure that the government fulfils the promises that it made after the incident.