The night of December 16, 2012, remains one of the most agonising nights in the country, When a young women was tormented to death after being brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi, the case is widely known as Nirbhaya case
Nobody had ever seen such an obnoxious crime where the woman’s genitals were mercilessly detriment by sharp objects.
That one night shook the entire country, which caused a widespread protest against rape-culture in India.
The protest began so broadly that almost every person of the country was aware of the Nirbhaya Rape case.
The entire country witnessed the success of the protest when in March 2020 all culprits but two were hanged in Tihar Jail.
Among the two, one was a juvenile who was freed after spending three years in a juvenile detention centre while another died during the trial.
READ: Safety of women in India
The current scenario
Conviction in Nirbhaya rape case restored lost hope of citizens in judiciary until September 2020, when another similar case of a teenage Dalit girl came to light, popularly called Hathras Rape Case.
Which again filled the atmosphere with a widespread agitation against the deteriorated system of the country. The protest was joined by a number of intellectuals, Politicians, Activists, writers and ordinary citizens of the country.
Just like the Nirbhaya case, it also attracted massive media coverage and became a hot topic in every debate.
Hathras’ case is an epitome to reflect upon the unchanged condition of women in the country, unnecessarily bureaucratic and corrupt system and atrocious perception of a large section of society towards rape.
These conditions will not change with one or two protests, but society as a whole needs continuous agitation and reflection. It is the high time to evince what has changed in the country since 2012 and what remains the same.
Women became more vocal about rape.
In India, rape is presumed to devalue the status of the victim, even more than that of the culprit.
Often women are either forced to marry their rapists so that they are not deprived of the mainstream respect in the society or remain quiet about it as otherwise, no men would accept them for marriage.
Other than that, lack of trust in the system or resources are the reasons for rape being one of the most under-reported crimes in India.
One very significant victory of the protest of Nirbhaya Rape Case was that it made room for women to speak about this wicked crime. Not only just rape but all kind of atrocities done to them.
It is not appropriate to say that it was the outcome of only 2012 protest but also some social media movements like #metoo.
According to the available data on the number of crimes, it was observed that in the year 2012-2013 alone, there was a rise of 26.72% in crimes against women, which is an evidence of an increase in the number of reporting against rape.
If the number of reporting increases in future then, clearly we can fill a significant amount of terror in the minds of criminals against this evil offence.
However, better administration and fast trials remain the most significant steps in accomplishing our goal.
Introduction of Criminal Amendment Bill, 2018
The Criminal Amendment bill is another applaudable step; lawmakers of the country took after 2012.
The bill proposed to give stringent punishment to the culprits of rape of both girl child below 16 years and adults.
The bill brought the law for Imprisonment for a minimum of 20 years, which may even extend to life imprisonment or death to rape below the 12-year-old girl.
In the case of girls below 16 years, the sentence is increased from 10 years to 20 years or life imprisonment. For women above 16 years, imprisonment increased from 7 to 10 years or life imprisonment.
It also proposed a number of measures for fast trials and investigations. Moreover, the establishment of special fast-track courts which deal with only rape cases was also promulgated by the bill.
Creation of sensitisation and awareness among youth
With the emergence of protest of the Nirbhaya case, several demonstrations happened in the last eight years for rape victims. One notable example is of the rape case of a seventeen-year-old at Unnao.
A number of protesters came out on the streets, which led to a sentence of life imprisonment to the culprit Kuldeep Singh.
In these eight years, the citizens of the country have learned to fight against evil. They have stood by the survivors every time, which is a significant effort. Either through social media or by coming on the roads.
If the unity remains the same, then in a few years, the deeply rooted perspective of people towards rape which blames women for the act will inevitably change.
Development of schemes for women.
The government launched helplines for women for their safety. Institutions like Mahila Thana, Mahila Panchayat, social service units were focused by the government to resolve the disputes of couples and solve atrocious cases against women fast.
Nirbhaya fund was launched, which would help in ensuring the dignity of women.
She-Box portal was also found for women to file complaints against sexual harassment.
All these schemes could not come to existence if the people of the country did not stand in unity.
What did not change?
No matter what happened on papers after 2012, it’s sadly never embraced in reality.
In Hathras case only, Police denied first even to file the complaint of the victim. She has cremated away from the knowledge of the family.
Even though she has stated that she was raped, yet the police concluded that it could not be proved in the investigation. The girl was a Dalit while her rapist was an upper caste. India can not turn its face from the doomed culture of castes in the country.
We still have a long walk to make sure that at least authorities stand by the side of truth and justice.
“The Verma committee formed after the Nirbhaya case to recommend measures for the protection of women concluded that police and government are the root-causes of crimes towards women.”
The complicated and slow procedures of Court.
According to NCRB, every day, 87 cases are reported against rape. By the same institution, it was found that there was a total of 1,56,327 rape cases on trials, among which only 17,313 cases were completed, and convicted only 4,708 criminals.
The rate of conviction is so slow that it happens to prove as if nothing has changed. Even if there is an escalation in the number of reports, but trials remain slow and challenging while the conviction rate is unimaginably low then not many victims would proceed to get justice and instead stay quiet as they used to be.
India will remain the same if the Government does not give the wickedness of this crime significance.
The government needs to not only just make laws but also embrace them at ground level. The root cause of crimes against women is indeed failed administration but also the ill-fostering of men by most households.
All levels of society require to be more sensitised towards women so that crime does not come to existence in the first place.
As far as the punishments are concerned, we still need more stringent punishments for the rapists and more reformed society.