Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 16 December 2017, 17:43 IST
On the eve of 16 December, a day marked in black in recent Indian history when 23-year-old Jyoti Singh was brutally gang-raped by five men in the Capital in 2012, the Dialogues Initiative Foundation organised a seminar on the security and safety of women in Delhi.
The gruesome incident was a wakeup call for authorities as well as the society over the weak security of women in the city and in the country at large. Nationwide protests were organised demanding capital punishment for the rapists.
But after five years, has the Capital gotten any safer for women?
Crime data suggests that females who live and work in the city and its peripheries don't feel safe despite various measures carried out by the Centre and the city government to enhance women's safety.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2016-17, Delhi reported the highest crime rate (160.4) compared to the national average rate of 55.2.
The Capital reported nearly 40% of crime cases against women (2,155 cases of rape, 669 cases of stalking and 41 cases of voyeurism) during the period.
Catch spoke to the National Commission of Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma who was the chief guest invited for the seminar and here are some excerpts -
It has been five years since the Nirbhaya case, do you think that the situation of women safety has improved in the city?
Rekha Sharma (RS): I would like to think that the safety and security of women has improved across the country but the truth is that is not the case. There are countless rapes and gangrapes still being reported every day. Look at the brutal Bangalore gang rape that was reported on a few days back where the woman in question was seeking help for 36 hours before she actually got it. Even with all the laws in place, crimes against women have not decreased in the slightest. You still hear cases of rape of minors, rapes by family members, gang rapes, harassment in public and work places and so many such cases. The situation for women’s safety has not improved.
What needs to be done?
RS: Three things need to happen. First, the laws need to get stricter. The conviction rate of the rape accused needs to improve. Punishments need to get stricter and harsher for the perpetrators. Nirbhaya’s accused have not been hanged. The juvenile is now roaming free. I don’t say that capital punishment is needed in all the cases of rape, but in many cases like Nirbhaya’s - capital punishment is the only answer.
Second, a safe and secure environment for reporting rapes and other crimes against women needs to be established. Women and girls need to feel safe enough to come forward and report when a rape has happened to them. Social stigma, fear of victim blaming and police harassment are some of the things that stop a women from reporting on rape. That really needs to change.
Third and most important, the mindset of society needs to evolve. When it comes to the rapists, there is still no fear among them. They think that they can get away with it. They feed off women's fear and do not have any fear of conviction or punishment. If punishment is made harsher, the potential criminal will think twice before committing a crime. The society’s mindset regarding rape needs to change. Politicians in our country are blaming women’s clothes or their lifestyle for rape. Victim blaming and shaming needs to stop, period. A crime against a woman is not the fault of the woman. Period. The stigma attached to rape directly or indirectly blames the woman. If the mentality doesn’t change, nothing is going to change.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen