A year has passed after the Nirbhaya incident on December 16, 2012 and that led to huge protest and the enactment of the new Anti-Rape Law in 2013, it is time to take stock of the situation regarding the safety of women in this country.
At the outset it can be said that nothing has dramatically has changed. A day after that incident, on 17th December 2012, a 3 year old child was raped in the bathroom of her pre-school. The child's father reported the case to the police but he is still waiting for justice.
It is reported that the number of rape cases has gone up from 705 at the end of 2012 to 1330 at the end of October 2013. The statistical record of molestation cases has also seen a steep rise in this period.
Still when the court trial of the Nirbhya rape case was on, a photo-journalist was raped in Mumbai. The criminals were arrested and the case is still going on.
Three laws were passed after Nirbhya case. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act 2013, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013.
Definition of rape has been extended to include sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks.
In Nirbhaya Case, while one accused committed suicide in jail, others got death sentence the teenager was sent to three years in a remand home that sparked protest to reduce the legal age of the juvenile.
A speedy trial for rape cases and punishment is of minimum 20 years was ensured through the new law. If the attack leads to death of the victim or victim is left in a vegetative state, then the punishment could be death sentence.
This has led to a debate whether 20 year imprisonment is sufficient enough for punishing those committing rape. Some may disagree but this punishment is not all sufficient for people who commit such type of crime. In fact there should be much more stringent punishment so that the accused may tremble in fear before committing such crime. It is only then justice could be done to the victim.
The positive fall out of the Nirbhya case is the change in the attitude of the girls and they are not hesitating to complain about sexual assault cases. This is probably due to the public protests following the Nirbhya incident. It has removed the fear from them and do not care about the society looking down upon a sexually assaulted women with shame.
As a sequence to it, in November 2013 a female journalist of the investigative magazine Tehelka reported against its Editor-in-chief for sexually assaulting her that led to the editor's arrest.
There is a misconception regarding the rapist who is considered to be a person unknown to the victim. It only accounts to less than 10% of the reported cases. In most cases we see that the accused is someone whom the victim knows well and whom she trusts.
About the issue of safety of women in India, we have a long way to go. It is promising that our government and civil society is taking steps in this direction but still this issue has a long way to go towards its complete eradication.
In the same direction a film called 'Kill the Rapist' that is about to release, promises to make every rapist shiver with fear before even thinking of rape. This is the kind of attitude change that is needed in the country towards controlling crime against women.