The commotion of rallies, protests, marches, curfews and conspiracies has drowned the Hathras incident. In all the bedlam, the voice of the victim has been stifled and crushed.

In the statement given by the victim four days prior to her death, she stated the names of the four persons who raped her. But, the investigation is mulling over the lack of fluids and healed injuries, which were investigated ten days after the incident to prove that there was no rape. So, the conclusion is that she was only dragged and strangled with her dupatta; which left her neck and spinal cord fractured along with a gash in her tongue. Even if we omit the rape, the suffering she went through is a case of collective shame for all of us. The incident and the ensuing aftermath clearly stink with the collective misogyny in our society.

This apathy has become commonplace thanks to all of us. Every woman has at some point been silenced and asked to adjust or not to make a fuss about it. We have all silently endured a degrading insulting song, a creepy stare or domestic abuse of some form. Every time we have stifled our protest, we have actively endorsed this gender power play.

The gender power structure is keen to throttle the women who have found their voice. The beginning of any progressive gender discourse is trivialized by making personal attacks to silence them. The belittling is always on one’s physical appearance, dressing style or the fishiest ‘character’. The onus is always on the victim to prove a crime and sadly this case has become one of them. The victim was not dressed provocatively, did not step out at night so she could not have been raped. The dupatta she wore to protect society’s modesty was used to strangle her life form. It does not matter that she gains enough consciousness in her serious paralytic condition to raise her voice against her perpetrators. The indignity continued even after her death with the manner in which she was cremated.

The dying declaration of the victim is a powerful piece of evidence, if found to be factual and voluntary by the court. Yet, it is being overlooked and expunged to fit the narrative of the powerful.

We have all failed the victim, who was probably taught to adjust and not complain. Still, she found her voice in the end. Let this be a lesson for all of us; don’t ever let your voice be hushed. Speak out every time you feel uncomfortable even if it is the way you are addressed or a wandering finger. Let’s raise our voice when we see our family members and friends advocating this power play. Gender equality is still a mirage and can be achieved only when each one of us can assert our voice, immaterial of the gender.