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


Karan Singhania
[email protected]

Shakti, the Women Development Cell of Sri Venkateswara College, kick started the ‘Nirbhaya week’ with a light a candle session in the college foyer on Monday, 7th January.  A unique signature campaign was also initiated which will continue through the week.

Students and teachers were asked to identify the most appropriate punishments for rapists. The suggested punishments ranged from castration and immolation, to capital punishment and life term. While the students seemed divided on the issue, the teachers were fairly unanimous in their support for life term. There were still others who believed that punishments should be decided on a case by case basis. The participants signed petitions to confirm their respective stands.

The members of Shakti were quite pleased with the response and announced further activities to be held during the week. A slogan writing competition on Tuesday will be followed by a poster making competition on Wednesday. On Thursday an essay writing competition will be held on the topic ‘Agar aurat surakshit nahi to kya purush hain?’.

‘It’s time Indian women learned not to depend on men for their protection’, opined one of the participants.

The recent uproar on the case where a 23-year-old girl was raped and thrown out of a bus, took a tragic twist with the demise of the rape victim, popularly known as Nirbhaya. The protests held at Raisina hill and India Gate were charged with anger and adrenaline, but her death brought with it an even stronger will to seek justice for and pay tribute to ‘India’s daughter’. After being transferred to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital on 27th morning, the nation collectively prayed for a speedy recovery. However, the girl succumbed to her injuries just two days later. Her death ignited a flame within the hearts of Indians across the world, and many movements were held across the country to send a message to the Indian law-makers that the war had only just begun. In New Delhi, Jantar Mantar was the prime spot where peaceful gatherings were organised to show solidarity. As Jantar Mantar has been a symbol of non-violent protests even in the past, it seemed to be the perfect spot for the citizens of the capital to gather and pay tribute to the brave girl who fought against the rapists for her life. “The crowd was very peaceful and calm. More than a sense of revenge, there seemed to be a solemn atmosphere. Despite the fact that there was a group of people yelling ‘Hang the rapists!’ at the top of their lungs, most present realised that the point of meeting at Jantar Mantar was to pay tribute to the girl who was raped as well as all the other women who have suffered due to shameless, savage minds,” said Ankita, a student of Lady Shri Ram College. As students continue to organise street plays and people come together to light candles in memory of the 23 year old medical student, the direction of these protests and marches seem to be aimed at a complete overhaul of the existing safety regulations and policies. This might just be the start of a new revolution, spearheaded by the dynamic and powerful youth of a nation infested with outdated laws and run by ageing leaders well beyond their time.]]>