Seattle, WA (PRWEB) January 06, 2013
Members from different ethnic groups, media and works of life poured in to pay tribute to "Nirbhaya," the New Delhi gang rape victim, at a memorial service on Friday, January 4th, 2013. The event was organized by the Washington State and India Trade Relations Action Committee (WASITRAC) and was held at the Westin Hotel in Bellevue. The attack on the 23-year-old woman, who died of severe internal injuries last week, provoked a fierce debate across India about the routine mistreatment of females and triggered protests all over the world demanding action and social change. The savagery of the attack on “Nirbhaya,” the social apathy and the government’s weak response had provoked many of the local community members who attended this event. The attendees expressed their emotions over the perceived indifference of the country’s ruling elite and its failure to protect women. The participants also put their thoughts into written words, all of which would be sent to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, by the organizer.
WASITRAC is a Seattle based non-profit advocacy group which has been working for a stronger bilateral trade relationship between Washington state and India since 2007. Besides facilitating trade missions to India in 2010 and 2011, WASITRAC organized the first Washington State summit on US-India Trade and Commerce last year as part of the Next Fifty celebration marking the 50 anniversary of the Seattle Center and Seattle's First World Fair.
After a brief introduction and welcome note by Debadutta Dash, the Co-Chair of WASITRAC, many members in the audience shared their thoughts on relevant issues ranging from existing social/political apathy to the ineffectiveness of the legal system to save women from various atrocities in India as well as other parts of the world. “Political apathy towards such incidents is a big problem in India,” said Dash, “India is largest democracy but regretfully it has not gone beyond the traditions of thousands of years in which women were inferior to men, and its people and leaders must change that.”
Mr. Habib M. Habib, another Co-Chair of WASITRAC, read out the message sent by Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott from Washington D.C. In his message, Congressman McDerrmott said, “I am shocked by the heinous and barbaric crime against “Nirbhaya” and mourn her loss alongside our friends in India. We as a society cannot tolerate such senseless violence against anyone. Sadly, sexual assault remains commonplace in many parts of the world. At a certain point, we have to look at violent crimes against women in the eye and say “no more.” I hope this tragedy will be a catalyst for such change.”
Noted scholar, philanthropist and humanitarian leader, Dr. Chandra Bhanu Satpathy, who recently visited Seattle and was honored by the City of Seattle and the Washington State, was very concerned about the increasing atrocities towards women. His message read, "The rape of any woman anywhere in the world is the worst incidence of barbarism and hence is a crime against humanity. It has to be condemned in unequivocal terms. What has happened in India is a total dishonor of womanhood the world over. It calls not only for the enactment of the strictest laws and their strongest enforcement but also for utter condemnation by all groups in society cutting across nationalities, not to mention a thorough review of the existing legal system. Forgetting that he has been birthed by a woman as ordained by God, the rapist commits an unpardonable crime against God Himself."
Asking for greater involvement on this issue from all possible sources, Dr. Satpathy also said, "All the governments in the world, international forums like the United Nations and the various social, cultural, religious and other activist organizations and individuals should raise their voice in the most manifested form possible. A society which cannot protect its womenfolk from such torture and humility cannot be said to be civilized in the true sense of the term. We should all pray, not only for the departed soul of the unfortunate rape victim in India but also for all who have fallen victim to such a crime in any country in the world.”
Mayor McGinn of the City of Seattle sent a message to the memorial service saying, “On behalf of the people of Seattle, I offer our condolences to the victim’s family and friends. This attack is a sobering reminder that gender-based violence remains a global problem, one that demands both a shift in public consciousness and a regulatory response. Let this be the time to eradicate such violence and increase our attention to public safety. The rights of women and girls, including the right to be safe from attack, must be a priority in Seattle and around the world.”
Washington State Rep. Marcie Maxwell attended the service and expressed her condolence for "Nirbhaya" and concern for the safety of women in India as well as other part of the world. She appealed to all the members in the audience to continue participating in such activities and demonstrations where these issues could be a part of worldwide attention. While thanking WASITRAC for organizing such event, she expressed her optimism in having a better secured world for women in near future as a result of these efforts.
Eleven-year-old artist Chirag Vedullapalli brought his canvas painting "Three Women Standing United" to the memorial service which was bought by Washington State Rep. Marcie Maxwell and is later to be adorned at the State Democrat Caucus building at the State Capitol in Olympia.
Professor Kavasseri V. Ramanathan from the Foster School of Business of the University of Washington expressed his shock for what happened to "Nirbhaya" and was critical of the fact that such atrocities towards women are happening in India where the national anthem starts with the word "Vande Mataram" which means "I show gratitude to thee, Mother." He wished that the political and community leaders in India would work together to implement strictest possible laws against the perpetrators against women.
Honorary Consul General of Uzbekistan Gary Furlong and Abdullahi Jama from the office of the Immigrant & Refugee Affairs for the City of Seattle also participated in the memorial service which ended with a moment of silence.