Nirbhaya’s case is fresh in our memories. But, there are countless cases where no justice has been delivered. Moreover, there are many ‘prominent’ cases where justice has not been delivered, and the cases have faded from public memory or press scrutiny. The 1973 case of a Mumbai nurse, the 2003 case of the 23 year old Swiss diplomat in Delhi, the 2004 case of the Manipuri by our own Jawans, (and many more such cased in Kashmir and the North-East), the 2012 case of a 14 year old raped inside a police station in UP, the rape of women in communal riots across the Nation……we can go on and on. Very shameful indeed. The Chief Minister of Delhi is a woman. Her daughter is also scared of moving around in Delhi riled by her own mother! A woman in Punjab committed suicide after being allegedly humiliated by police as she tried to file a gang rape complaint! The social stigma (did the girl invite that through her actions, clothes, dancing etc,) police insensitivity (blame the girl first!) and cruel justice system makes most cases go unreported. Most rapes are by people known to the victim! Another huge problem is the trafficking of girls across the country (and neighbouring countries). Tens of thousands of girls disappear in India every year. They are sold into prostitution, domestic slavery and increasingly, into marriage with older men. Poverty, unbalanced sex ratios, Bollywood attraction are some of key reasons.
The wave of sexist outbursts from our political leaders not only sickens me, but also points to the entrenched gender bias in India. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said that rapes happen in India, not Bharat, and blames western culture for gang rapes. Women should be just housewives, he adds. Congress leaders B. Satyanatayana thought that the gang rape was a minor incident, and ‘just because India got freedom at midnight, do women have to roam out at midnight too?
BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya said, ‘when morality is violated, Sita (women) suffers! VHP leader Ashok Singhal blames, India’s increasingly westernised youth! On the positive side, the US State Department has awarded one of the 2013 International Women of Courage Awards to Nirbhaya. According to the State Department statement, Nirbhaya had become the foundation of a popular movement to end violence against women in India. For millions of Indian women, her personal ordeal, perseverance to fight for justice, and her family’s continued bravery in helping to lift the stigma and vulnerability that drive violence against women. She had bravely recorded two police statements while in the hospital, repeatedly called for justice against the six attackers and stated her will to survive to see justice done. In the wake of her death just two weeks after the attack, India’s active civil society began advocating heavily for legislation and social programs to stem gender-based violence in all its forms and to ensure higher rape conviction rates and gender-sensitive law enforcement and justice systems. Thanks to these efforts, the Indian government has begun to take action to follow through on those demands.