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After one year of the Nirbhaya Incident of Dec 2012 has anything changed for women in India.
The nationwide upsurge that followed the horrific gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi on 16th December 2012 noted many changes in the country.
- Sexual abuse now includes sexual harassment, stalking and voyeurism, which has been made illegal.
- The definition of rape has been expanded to include penetration by objects or any other body part.
- The incident prompted the parliament to enact The Criminal law (Amendment) or The Sexual harassment Act,2013.
- Fast track courts have been established to speed up trials in sexual assault cases which earlier used to take years to conclude.
- Since the teenager defendant was sentenced to only three years in a correctional facility- the maximum penalty allowed to a juvenile offender under Indian law, sparked protests and heated discussions across the country on a possible reduction of the legal age of a juvenile.
- Women have been forthcoming in reporting crimes against them. They have been empowered by the law and the response of the civil society.
- 1330 rape cases had been reported to the police in New Delhi until October 2013 against 706 such cases for the whole of 2012.
- All this shows that the widespread media coverage of the case has led to an increased awareness of the issue of violence against women in Indian society.
- The US awarded Nirbhaya ,"The woman of courage" award posthumously for inspiring people to work together to end violence against women in India and around the world.
Even after The Sexual Harassment of Women in Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act has been passed by the parliament, it seems that the law is yet to be enforced.
The increased number of registered sexual assault cases not only shows the courage of women to stand up and fight, but also show that the men still wear the masks of viciousness, violence and still have no respect for a woman.
The country was engrossed by a case that revealed the sordid reality of workplace harassment, not by slum dwellers, but by a suave citizen of the New Delhi elite. The Tehelka editor-in-chief, Tarun Tejpal faced alleged sexual harassment charges from his collegues.
God-man Asaram was taken into police custody in September, 2013 for sexual assault and exploitation of women in his Ashram. His son Narayan Sai was also arrested for being accused in sexual abuse case.
Apart from such famous people being in the spotlight for infamous crimes, there have been many of other cases which have come to limelight.
This shows that even after draconian law is being made to tackle such crime, some men do not fear to be punished.
So, in spite of all the laws being made, no real change has taken place for women in India, and women are not so safe yet. The country has to face many challenges ahead to overcome such crimes.
- Rape cases have been nourished by norms, attitudes and practices that trivialise, tolerate or even condone violence against women.This mindset of people needs to be changed.
- Crimes can be prevented if we educate the masses, especially men on the issues of gender stereotyping and the pervasive and negative impact of patriarchy.
- The subject of gender sensitisation must be introduced from the grass root level in schools, colleges and workplaces.
- Women in many parts of the country do not even know about their rights. So both men and women should be educated about women's rights under the law, and should work with communities to develop a gender sensitive society-underpinned by respect and equality.