Noel stands on the streets, with a placard in hand for hours together to convey the message.

This Mangaluru doctors lone struggle to stand up against rape
news Awareness Monday, June 06, 2016 - 12:52

“I am a doctor. I am fighting for justice. Are you going to stand up only when someone you know gets raped?” asks Noel Mathew, a doctor from Mangaluru.

This 25-year-old doctor staged a candle-light vigil on Sunday in Bengaluru, taking forward his month-long struggle to spread awareness about rape. Noel’s demands are clear - the establishment of an anti-rape squad at every police station across the country, along with a functional 24x7 helpline.

Disturbed by the rising rape instances in the country, he feels that many women find it difficult to visit a police station to file a complaint. The horrific murder and rape of 30-year-old Jisha at her home in Perumbavoor in Kerala was the final push for Noel to pursue what he has been putting off for a while- stand up against rape.

“It has been quite some time that I have been disturbed with the rising rape instances in our country. Now that I stand on my own feet after completing my studies, there couldn't have been a better time for me to kick-start the cause. Jisha case was only a trigger that finally made me put my thoughts into action,” says Noel.

Silent demonstration in Kochi

Though the first demonstration was carried out in Kochi and one of the posters still carry #JusticeForJisha, Noel says that he does not want the initiative to be focused on one case alone.

“I am talking about the issue in general, and I wish to not limit the initiative to one particular case and I want this to be a national cause and not merely restricted to one single case. However, after interacting with a few people on the feasibility of setting up an anti-rape squad, I understand that the idea has a better chance of being implemented if we concentrate on one or two states,” he says.

After the demonstration in Kochi on May 15, Noel organized a candle light vigil in Mangaluru on May 29. The next demonstration will be held in Manipal and in Chennai thereafter.

Noel stands on the streets, with a placard in hand for hours together to convey the message. While a few people walked away without a second glance, Noel says that a lot of people expressed interest in supporting the cause and even stood by him for a few minutes before walking away.

Noel has single-handedly organized the demonstrations so far, with the support of his friends who turned up for the demonstration. However, he feels discouraged that even a month after his campaign he has not been able to reach out to people outside his immediate friends circle.

One of the things that disturbed him was that though news about rape do make headlines, it dies down after the initial hype. People's innate tendency to restrict themselves to being social media activists was also something that Noel was disturbed about.

“I do not blame people for merely restricting themselves to social media activism and not being ready to spend time doing ground work for the cause. People have their own personal lives and priorities. But from my part, for this cause to not die down like most of the news about rapes in our country, I will be organizing demonstrations once every month till April next year,” he shares.

Candle-light vigil held in Mangaluru on May 29

While only around five people turned up for the silent demonstration in Kochi, the demonstration in Mangalore saw close to 40 people showing their support for the cause.

Met with poor responses from regional media organizations on covering the event, he says, “For one, I do not want this initiative to be known by my name. My effort is to transform this initiative into a community-driven one.”