New Delhi: It's been a year since the horrific gangrape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student by six men inside a private bus on the roads of Delhi that shook the whole nation. The sheer brutality of the crime saw unprecedented protests across the country. On many occasions, the police was forced to resort to force against the protesters. However, the outrage prompted the government to bring in a tougher anti-rape law.
Under intense media coverage, a fast-track trial was conducted and the four adult perpetrators of the crime were sentenced to death while the one minor accused was remanded to a juvenile home.
For the braveheart's parent life has never been the same as after the incident, their life hasn't come to terms with her loss. "There is no question of coming to terms. How will it happen? Her voice rings in our head. I was at the door of the ICU on December 25, she gestured at me, she couldn't speak, as if to say, 'papa have you eaten'? I hadn't eaten. I lied to her and said, 'beta, I have eaten'. These are some of the memories that become more difficult to bear as time passes. Whenever I sit alone and think about it, I can't control my tears. It's like we haven't lost our daughter, we have also lost our self-confidence," said the braveheart's father.
The parents' plight doesn't end here as they are still fighting that the juvenile accused in the case gets punishment. "The sad part is, although four of the guilty have been sentenced to death, the juvenile is escaping punishment. It is hard for us to believe. Everyone in and around the world protested for justice. People stood by her against all odds. So many people were injured, but still no one turned their back. In such a situation one of the guilty is being spared because of being a juvenile," father said.
Has anything changed on ground?
Despite the protests and strong demand to curb crime against women, nothing seems to have changed on ground, crime against women hasn't reduced, demands for introspection and a change in mindsets is growing by the day.
The stretch in Delhi, where incident took place still carries a deserted look. Autos still refuse to take passengers, women are still unsafe on the roads and in buses, promises to deploy home guards, install GPS, CCTVs in buses, increase PCR vans to a 1000, increasing night buses remain just on paper.
The Delhi Police took a slew of steps like setting up helplines and women help desks at police stations to ensure women's safety but there is no let up in the crimes against them which have actually increased during the period.
The number of rape cases in 2013 is highest in the last 13 years, but Delhi Police has attributed it to greater awareness and registering of cases which otherwise would have gone unreported.
According to Delhi Police data, a total of 1,493 cases of rape were registered in the national capital till November 30 which is more than double the number of cases registered in the same period in 2012.
What is more alarming is that the number of cases of molestation has registered a five-fold increase as till November 2013, a total of 3,237 such cases were registered as against 625 last year.
Women in Bangalore also feel unsafe on the streets. "The ground realities don't change. there is noise being made and people are coming out and speaking against things that they never used to earlier which is a good thing. Social media is being used proactively but have the ground realities changed? Do we feel safer on our streets? I don't think so," said a woman in Bangalore.
While in Mumbai, people believe that the mentality of people hasn't change much even after protests of December 16. "The police, the people, the government has become more vigilant, at the same , the mentality of the people has not changed so much, I yet do have the fear at the back of my mind, I would not like my daughters to venture out alone," said a mother of two daughters.
(With additional input from PTI)