I want you to look at this picture. Look at the smiles of these beautiful children basking in the warm winter sun in a park. Nothing great one would think as children are meant to smile, and play and roll in the grass, safe and carefree. If you look a little more carefully you will see that some are undoubtedly children but other seem much older. You would be right. Some are indeed what we call adults and even middle aged.

This our special section on an outing to Lodhi Gardens and some are indeed not children but to me they are and always be my special kids. Some have been with is since the day we opened this section way back in 2002. Some are mentally challenged, some are physically challenged and some are both. They are the loveliest bunch of souls you would ever find and deserve to be loved, cared for and above all  live in an enabling environment where they are safe and respected. That is what we give endeavour to give them at least for a few hours a day and that is what I had hoped to give them long term when I was conceived of Planet Why in my mind: it was to be a safe haven for them.

Never has the relevance of Planet Why been as crucial as today.

A week ago a young mentally challenged woman left her home to never see it again. What happened to her is nothing of short of a nightmare. She was raped and subjected to the worst humiliation imaginable before she was murdered. You will need to brace yourself before you read her ordeal. The doctor who performed her autopsy said that he had never seen such brutality. “He said two stones were inserted into the slain woman’s anus. “Her face was eaten by animals; her lungs and heart were found missing. Also, her skull had fractured and there were injury marks on both her thighs and chest.

Her family had reported her missing the very day she left home but no one cared. You see she had everything against her: she was a girl; she was poor, she was mentally challenged and she was a migrant. She was less than human.

In December 2013 another brutal rape happened in Delhi. Laws mere enacted, promises made as always. But nothing had changed and neither will it change as long as women are considered lesser beings by one and all in this country and more so by political leaders and law enforcers.

Today we should hang our head in shame. But don’t we every time such horrors happen? And then we forget till the next outrage comes our way. How long will this happen. Is it not time we begin to ask ourselves what has made us such a brutal and uncaring lot.

This is not a country for women and certainly not one for women who are poor and mentally challenged.