Over four years have passed since the 2012 brutal gang rape of a para-medical student in Delhi that shook the collective conscience of the country. But, for many women, the national capital is yet to instil a sense of security in them….A special report by Ashish Mishra and Anurag Dey for Asian Lite News
With sexual predators prowling around in buses, metros and public places, both women activists and commoners feel Delhi is far from being safe for them.
On a day when the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for all the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape case, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Jaihind said the women are not at all safe.
“Women are not at all safe in Delhi. Even after four years of Nirbhaya case, not much has changed,” Jaihind said.
“Between 2012-2014, only 146 people have been convicted out of 31,446 cases related to crime against women,” she said buttressing her claim.
She said the DCW helpline on a daily basis receives 1,500-2,000 calls relating to women issues.
She said until “swift, strict and exemplary punishment” was ensured, such heinous crimes would continue.
Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat also said the city is unsafe.
“I wish I could say it is safer for women, but unfortunately Delhi is not at all safe for women,” Karat said.
“No recommendation of the Justice J.S. Verma committee has been implemented in its true spirit,” she said referring to the three-member panel that reviewed laws for sexual crimes in the country.
Nidhi Sharma, a fashion stylist echoed the views.
“Women don’t feel safe in Delhi. There are lots of factors behind such a state of affairs,” she said, lamenting the lack of adequate police presence in public places and transport.
“Delhi Metro, which is considered safest, shuts down around 11.30 p,m.-11.45 p.m. Late night commuting for women is a major security concern,” she said pointing to several cases of rape and molestation in cabs, auto-rickshaws and buses.
“Plans of installing CCTV cameras and lighting up dark spots are still on paper. Taking public transport is a risky affair,” she said.
According to the Delhi government, there are around 40,000 dark spots across the city.
Atmaja Chowdhury, who works in a multinational company, also lamented the government’s failure to ensure adequate security measures particularly in public transport.
“Government talked of deploying marshals in buses but I am yet to see them,” she said.
The 23-year-old Nirbhaya was brutalised inside a moving bus on December 16, 2012, which led to her death due to internal injuries 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.
However, for Mudita a journalist, initiatives like one-stop centres or women helpline numbers are not enough and things will not change until the “nasty mindset of men” changes.
“Our values, attitudes, customs, expectations and institutions are patriarchal in nature. This country needs a big revolution against that. Eve-teasing in metros, buses and other public places is a routine affair,” she said.
“I don’t feel free. I don’t feel safe. I have to protect myself all the time,” she said blaming women equally for encouraging patriarchy.
Talking about women security measures in Delhi, Jaihind said a special task force has been formed headed by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
“Since the Delhi Police is under the Centre, we had recommended setting up a high-level panel comprising the Union Home Minister, Delhi Chief Minister, the LG and the DCW chief, entrusted exclusively to deal with crimes against women.
“I have been pitching for this for quite a long time but to no avail. However, a special task force under LG has been formed,” she said.
Women activist Kamla Bhasin said women were equally unsafe inside their houses.
“When we talk about women safety, we should also talk about the crimes being perpetrated on them within their houses,” Bhasin said referring to incidents of domestic violence, dowry cases and sexual assault by family members.
“Law should of course be strong enough to deal with such crimes, but there is a dire need to change the mentality. You cannot stop crime only by installing CCTV cameras,” she added.