On November 26th, 2019, Priyanka Reddy, a 27-year-old veterinary doctor, was kidnapped, raped, and killed on her way home from working at a hospital in Kolluru Village. CNN reports that she was found dead with her body partially burnt under the Chatanpalli bridge in Shadnagar, India.
Family members have demanded that the accused individuals be burnt alive with the public watching. However, the four men suspected were shot dead by the police already. After their arrest, they were taken back to the crime scene, where police officers took the law into their own hands and killed the suspects.
While Priyanka’s case is extremely disturbing and disheartening, there are many more cases just like it. Just days before Reddy’s body was found, a 25-year-old law student was similarly abducted and gang-raped at gunpoint by 12 men. Additionally, a 32-year-old Tripura woman was gang-raped by five men, also while returning home – even with a relative. Even more recently, an 11-year-old girl was kidnapped, held captive for three days and raped by an auto driver. All these instances occurred only within months or days of Reddy’s case. This awful pattern further emphasizes just how much more imperative it is now, more than ever before, that we are adamant in the education, advocacy, and action we bring globally regarding gender-based violence and rape.
With the approaching seven-year anniversary of the 2012 Nirbhaya Delhi gang rape, a case that generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned both in India and abroad, we must analyze the progress India has made in addressing its systemic sexual violence issue. The uproar caused by this case forced India to amend several of its laws regarding sexual offenses, including the “Nirbhaya Act,” which criminalized offenses like acid attacks, voyeurism, and stalking. It also included a 20-year prison sentence for rape in 2012. People thought change had finally come…but it hadn’t. If it had, Priyanka Reddy and hundreds of other victims of gender-based violence would still be with us today.
As much progress as India has made thus far, women have yet to escape the cycle of violence that binds them to India’s outrageous rape culture. Generations of cultural gender bias, suppression, male dominance, cruelty, and silence have opened doors for many people to continuously victim blame, which only further perpetuates this vicious and seemingly endless cycle. Because we refuse to define rapists as the one and only reason for the occurrence of rape, so many incidents like those that have taken the lives of Priyanka Reddy and Nirbhaya Delhi continue to happen today.
It has become so normal for us to read about violence, acid attacks, rape, abuse, honor killings, and more that we as a society have developed a routine: a routine of mourning, getting upset with society, posting on social media, and then forgetting about it until it happens again. We cannot afford to lose another life to the idea that women are not reason enough to create legislation for, that they are not worth speaking out for, and that they are not worth fighting for. India, and the rest of the world: we need to do better.