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I first read about the case after I began working as a journalist in the United States and developed a curiosity about women's rights around the world.

, a tribal girl, and she performed the most menial of jobs to put bread in her belly.

She collected cow dung with her bare hands, shaped it into patties, slapped them on walls to dry and then sold them as fuel. I used to watch women in my Kolkata neighborhood do the same thing, using the back wall of my grandfather's house.

I knew how devastating rape could be, and I wondered how she had coped given her hardscrabble life, the crush of poverty, illiteracy and patriarchy.

Did she manage to love, have children, find happiness?

Had she heard about the New Delhi gang rape that pulled her name back into the news?

The answers to these questions would not come easily.She is uniformly depicted as a rape victim -- not a woman who cried rape.For me, her case became a prism through which I could see my homeland and measure its progress over the past four decades. Thousands marched on the streets after a young New Delhi woman was viciously gang-raped on a bus, an act so horrific that she later died.Some said the outcry in Delhi could be traced to the rape 41 years ago.Numerous other stories, opinion pieces and timelines on rape legislation mentioned the case. Sweeping generalizations about my country in news coverage on sexual assault both embarrassed and angered me.Myriad phone calls -- mainly to lawyers, journalists and activists -- led nowhere. She was a poor, uneducated girl who lived in a remote village.

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