December 16, marks the second anniversary of the ghastly gang rape that occurred in New Delhi. Despite humongous outrage all across the nation, nothing seems to have changed. In so far as the safe commuting of women is concerned, it may not be incorrect to say that things have in fact become worse. Then what does this black day signify for the Indian civil society. Aside from perfunctory media attention – newspaper highlights, radio talks and the barrage all day long on TV, the fact remains that every day since then the crime continues unabated.
Nirbhaya’s second anniversary of the horrific crime may very well bemoan the fact the women are still unsafe. If anything at all, it makes it all the more important to continue to keep up the fight at all levels. Because, even now, countless girls and women continue to face ghastly atrocities. How far is it possible to keep up with the pretense of courage or justice? It has been exactly two years to the day when the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang raped, after which she battled for two weeks with death, finally to succumb to it.
Even as the entire nation and the world watched on the brutality of the attacks by the gang of six men on a moving bus in Delhi remains etched as a macabre event. Nirbhaya’s subsequent death sparked off nationwide protests. People thronged in thousands to participate in candlelight vigils and prayers demanding strict punishment for the criminals. Four of her attackers were convicted and given the death penalty last September by a fast track court. And while one convict committed suicide in jail, the juvenile convict was sentenced to a detention centre.
The nationwide protests led to a national debate about women’s rights and safety in the country and forced the Government to pass a tougher anti-rape legislation. But does anything seem to be in control. Has anything changed at all? Are women and girls safe and free to walkabout their lives and business? Nothing has in fact changed. Women are still vulnerable and subject to ever more dangers than before. The state therefore needs to work expediently for securing safety of its women citizens.
The government needs to step up and be more concerned about women’s safety issues. A lot more needs to be done in terms of making our public spaces safer. Simple things for infrastructure improvement can start off by installing better lighting on streets. It needs to enforce and extend safe public transport to the last connecting points. Constant education of the public by way of safety-related information has to be provided at all times. Families need to be reassured about the safe movement of daughters, sisters and partners. The State has to take on this responsibility in all seriousness.