Thursday, 3 January 2013


This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Views on women in India must alter
An open letter to Dr J Bhagwati, high commissioner of India
Your excellency, we are deeply saddened to learn of the brutal assault and death of the young medical student attacked on a bus in Delhi and on behalf of the people of Leicester, we wish to convey our deepest sympathies to her family, relatives and friends.
On Sunday 30 December 2012, a vigil was held at Leicester Cathedral which was attended by representatives of all faiths and none, to stand in solidarity for the victim and her family at this difficult time. During my own reflections on the event, I proposed that a letter of condolence be sent to convey the sympathies of the people of Leicester.

We hope that the perpetrators are brought to account and that the full weight of the law is brought to bear on these individuals for the heinous crime that they have committed and for it to be a lesson to others.

This tragic incident has sparked worldwide outrage at the savage brutality committed by the perpetrators but also concern over the general conditions and treatment of women in India. India is a proud nation with a strong moral compass and proud culture, values and beliefs systems. However, in instances of sexual intimidation, domestic violence and general violence there is a need for a significant change in perceptions of women as well as changes to the law which grant women the full and proper protection that they have a right to. We need to remind ourselves that our mothers, sisters and daughters play a vital role in society and this is something we should all seek to cherish and nurture.

Leicester comprises a significant population who can trace their roots back to the Indian sub-continent, some directly and others via Africa. The recent census results indicate that over 120,000 people in Leicester and Leicestershire are of British Indian ethnicity and this represents the largest concentration in the UK. Leicester is a diverse city and a model for the multicultural UK and so there are so many people who feel affected by developments in their homeland. The intervention of the UN Secretary-General has highlighted how this incident has damaged India's international reputation.

You may be aware that in Leicester, I and several colleagues have led the way on matters of equality and justice, certainly in relation to bridging the gap of confidence and trust between the Police, Judiciary and Government on one hand and the public on the other. If you feel that our experience could be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The recent advancement of India as one of the economic and industrial powerhouses in the world is something that the people of Leicester follow with pride. We are sure the government and authorities in India will be doing their utmost to ensure that incidents such as this do not happen again and will be seeking to address the issues over women’s rights, gender attitudes and changes to the law on rape and violence against women.

We are sure you will agree that it is essential that the perception of women is changed, to ensure that the modern India take its rightful place at the table of the leading nations of the World.

Our thoughts are with the victim, her family, relatives and friends as well as all women who have been victims of mindless rape and violence.
Suleman Nagdi MBE, Leicester

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