We don’t wish to be the daughters of India.
On September 14, 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit woman from the town of Hathras in Uttar Pradesh was brutally raped by four upper caste men from Thakur. They also gouged out her eyes, cut her tongue, and broke her spinal cord, causing her to suffer multiple fractures and severe bleeding. On September 29, she succumbed to her injuries and became just another statistic in India – a country in which a woman is raped every 15 minutes.
While the four defendants were arrested, Uttar Pradesh police refused to hand over the woman’s body to her family and cremated her with force in the early hours of September 30. The horrific incident (rightly) sparked outrage among Indians, with many protesting the actions of the police and demanding an end to the culture of rape that prevails in our country.
Like many other women before her, Manisha Valmiki has been dubbed ‘Daughter of India’ because that’s what you become when something horrible and unspeakable happens to you.
Hours after the death of Manisha, a 22-year-old Dalit woman from Balrampur, also in Uttar Pradesh, deceased after being drugged and raped by two men. She also became the daughter of India – a woman who serves as a car for the guilt of the country.
Do you remember the rape victim Unnao? She was also the daughter of India – a woman who bears the brunt of our country’s collective failure. Asifa, 8, was also the girl from India, as was Priyanka Reddy. And then there was Jyoti Singh – India’s Nirbhaya, possibly India’s first daughter.
Being the girl from India involves a lot of pressure and sacrifice. You have to endure the pain of being reduced to a single object. You have to endure the ordeal of being constantly robbed of your agency. You have to suffer at the hands of a system that opposes you in every way imaginable. Being the Girl from India means wiping out your existence in the most horrific way possible. To be the daughter of India is to be denied justice every step of the way.
We carry fear within us. We have rabies. We carry sadness. But we don’t want to carry more burdens because being the daughter of India is a burden.
It should not be our cross to carry.
We are not your daughters. We don’t want to be your daughters. Because nothing good ever comes out of being the girl from India.
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