Yogita Bhayana in the last 14 years has become a well-known name for her social work and activism in the field of women’s rights. But before all that, she was a young woman from Delhi who had a thriving career in aviation.
According to a report in The Better India, she got a Master’s degree in Disaster Management from Guru Gobind Singh University.
“When I was in Class 9 and 10, I used to teach children under a tree outside my house. I also used to raise funds for senior citizens in school. So my involvement in social activities goes way back,” she told The Better India.
In 2002, at the age of 22, while working with Kingfisher Airlines, she first witnessed how broken the justice system was.
“I witnessed a horrible road accident where the perpetrator ran away, and no one came forward to help the victim. I took him to the hospital and called his family. By the time he received treatment, it was already too late. Even at the site of the accident, it was only my friend and me who came forward to help him. The government hospital was not equipped to help him either and took hours before the treatment began. He died, leaving behind a wife and a bunch of children, aged between one and five years,” she added.
“I was just a young girl with no prior exposure to something like this. I couldn’t sleep for nights after the incident. I was left wondering, ‘What is the life of a poor man in this country?’ That was a big awakening for me. I tried to organize awareness programs, but pushing the government to make a change is a very slow process,” she went on to say.
In 2007, she formed the Das Charitable Foundation to help victims of road accidents. But she did not stop there.
When the Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 sent shockwaves across India, Yogita decided to do something about giving those who endure this horrible crime justice. The perpetrators, in this case, were hanged in 2020 and it took almost 8 years.
“When I took up Nirbhaya’s case, I had about eight or nine more cases of rape and brutality. I was spending all my days in court, going from one hearing to another. Nirbhaya’s mother had the world’s attention and aid, but there were many others that people were not even looking at. Standing up for them was the most real blessing for me, and I noticed how much they need someone to offer them that support at all times. You can’t promise them justice, but you can promise that you’ll be there with them,” she continued.
Yogita started People Against Rape in India (PARI). This organization’s objective is to provide rehabilitation, justice, and safety to victims of rape and their families.
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“When we were protesting at Jantar Mantar, we received many calls from other victims and their families. I had met a few people at the protest and after Nirbhaya passed away, we decided to stay back, receive these SOS calls and work to help them. One time, I went to the hospital to meet a victim, a little girl who was around four or five years old. At the hospital, I ended up meeting several such babies. This was an eye-opener — we don’t even know how many such girls are languishing in hospitals, or are probably dead.”
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She has helped hundreds of rape victims, survivors, and their families with legal aid, compensation, rehabilitation, and justice.
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“It’s important to help the survivor, but it’s equally imperative to work on prevention. If you don’t, these cases will continue till the end of time,” she emphasized.
She is fighting for many cases that are still pending an outcome and knows the fight is far from over. Yogita is giving such women a voice. We need more people like her.