The Delhi gang-rape shook the entire country urging people to question themselves on women safety and women empowerment in India. So let’s see how far have we really come along since then.
The horror of Nirbhaya rape case is still fresh in the minds of Indians. Shame, embarrassment and disgust is all one is reminded of when one thinks of the incident. This urged people to come out on the streets in anger and remorse protesting against sexual harassment. It highlighted the degree of danger women need to deal with and more importantly, the need to make the country a safer place for women.
It did have some immediate impacts: the 2013 Criminal Law Amendment Act, also known as Nirbhaya Law introduced a minimum 20-year-sentence for gang-rape culprits and those who are found guilty could now be given a death penalty. This was a big step taken by the Indian government to ensure adequate punishment to such offenders. The government defined acid attack as a crime with a minimum sentence of 10 years that could be extended to life in the 2013 Amendment Act. Also, the government made acid attack a non-bailable offense with a provision to pay Rs. 3,50,000 to the victims within 15 days.
Taking a stance on sexual harassment, the 2013 Women at the Workplace Act has given protection against sexual harassment to all women in the workplace, including those informal industries and domestic workers. Also, stalking or voyeurism crimes are non-bailable which earlier were bailable. The introduction of new laws focusing on women safety and maximum punishment for offenders. These laws try to cover as many ways as possible to minimize the various possible risks and crimes towards women. However, these laws and the rigidity towards the issue seem to have made little impact. Statistical data show that rape cases in India moved up from 24,923 in 2012 to 34,651 in 2015. According to NCRB, conviction rates in Delhi went down from 49.25% in 2012 to 29.37% in 2015. However, Delhi Police released a stat showing that the conviction rate has increased 5.4% from 2012 to 2015.
The Modi government launched the ‘I Feel Safe’ app, a personal safety app which is accessible even without data connection. The app was launched in 2016. The app places automatic call to 100 and tracks the location of the person in distress within 30 seconds. As per a report by Quint, published in 2016, sexual assault cases in Delhi have tripled since 2012.
Even after so many years of debate, discussion, the ‘apparent’ progress, stats reveal that we are nowhere near achieving the goal of women safety. In fact, we are worse off. Highlighting the matter does not mean that the matter is being solved. It can never be solved until it is confined to change of laws and introduction of apps. There will be a difference only when there is a change in our mentality. Yes, such things take time but we need to first move in the right direction. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Feature Image Credits: The Time Magazine