Nirbhaya case anniversary: Bleak future for India’s daughters?

Last Updated: Sunday, 8 December 2019 (13:47 IST)
New Delhi: As India approaches the seventh anniversary of the ghastly December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a physiotherapy intern dubbed Nirbhaya, that shook the nation, little seems to have changed with two other no less horrific rape-and-murder cases being reported recently.
 
Nirbhaya case anniversary: Bleak future for India’s daughters?" width="740" />
Like Nirbhaya, Priyanka Reddy, a young veterinary doctor from Telangana, was brutally gang-raped and then killed on November 27. And even before the cries for justice for Priyanka could abate, the shocking Unnao rape incident surfaced, scarring the national psyche yet again.
 
According to statistics, a rape occurs every 20 minutes in India. There are 133,000 pending rape cases in the courts.
 
In 2012, hundreds of protestors marched through the streets of the national capital demanding justice for the 23-year-old Nirbhaya who died on December 29 despite being airlifted to Singapore.
 
A fallout of the case resulted in new legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years.
 
However, this has not stemmed the tide of new cases of rapes being reported, almost daily.
 
A worrying consequence of the stringent legislation has been the level of brutality seen in recent sexual assaults and killing of the victim as the most effective way of silencing her.
 
Ironically, even though the much-publicised and fast-tracked Nirbhaya gangrape case was disposed in nine months, the rapists are still alive seven years after committing the gruesome crime.
 
The growing horror and anguish over the assaults on India’s daughters has echoed in the country’s highest lawmaking body -- Parliament -- and lawmaker after lawmaker expressed the need for deterrent action against rapists, not least Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan who endorsed public lynching or DMK MP P Wilson chemical castration of these offenders.
 
DMK leader P Wilson said that courts should be empowered to surgically and chemically castrate convicted rapists before they are released from jails.
 
Initially, concerns were voiced that the Rs 10,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund for women’s safefy was not being used. Even Delhi, where the infamous Nirbhaya incident took place, has spent an abysmal five per cent of its allocation.
 
Despite these tough laws in place, today there are calls for lynching and hanging in Parliament, as the Nirbhaya case seems replicated in various rape cases being reported from cities and towns. But pandering to this mob mentality, will not do as the law must be seen as taking its course.
 
And yet, scratch the surface, changes are showing up from the stringent anti-rape legislation put in place, better reporting of incidents of violence against women and calls from the public for steps to change the mindsets of boys.
 
There is a growing need felt to fast-track courts to award sentence under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) within a stipulated 60 days.
 
Unless the NDA Government at the Centre acts, when rapists continue to be let off the hook due to poor reporting or trial is delayed due to a host of reasons ranging from receiving forensic lab reports to the unwieldy burden of pending cases, the Government’s “Beti Bachao” scheme will unreel speedily. (UNI)