December 16, 2012, was a black day in Indian history.
Memories of the gory rape and assault case that shook the nation and forced us to sit up and take notice of women’s safety, are still fresh and alive. Has much changed in the four years that have passed since Nirbhaya became a household name? Not much if this morning’s news reports are any gauge of women’s safety in the national capital, Delhi. Last evening, a paramedical student was raped in the Moti Bagh area of south Delhi.
The girl, a resident of Noida, had been looking for a job in Delhi and was looking to get back home after a long day. She was lured into a privately owned car by the driver who is believed to have offered her a lift. The driver then raped the girl. The car bears a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sticker. The police, however, believe that the sticker could be a fake and could have been placed in the car to avoid toll taxes.
The 20 year old survivor is a resident of Noida in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Residents of Noida routinely commute to Delhi for work. She was waiting to board a bus near the AIIMS hospital and college at about 10 pm when the accused stopped the SX4 he was driving and offered to drop her home. The unsuspecting woman got into the car and was molested in an isolated spot on her way back. The driver had stopped the car near Moti Bagh, a posh locality in south Delhi, and the victim fled at an opportune moment.
She soon found police personnel in a PCR vehicle and sought help. Her statement has been recorded at the police station in South Campus. When the police returned to the spot, they discovered that the car had been abandoned and the driver had fled. A medical examination of the victim points to rape. The police teams investigating the crime managed to nab the accused from a friend’s house. The police believe that the car was privately owned by a CISF head constable and that the accused driver, Aman Kumar, worked for him in a private capacity.
The Nirbhaya Case
What has jolted us this morning is the striking similarity that this crime bears to the Nirbhaya case. On December 16, 2012, a 23 year old paramedical student was gang raped and tortured in the Munirka area of south Delhi. The six men who had raped her had also brutally assaulted her, tearing apart her innards. The incident became a matter of national shame with protests staged across the country. Despite the best of treatment, the victim, dubbed Nirbhaya, died soon after. The incident is one of the most heinous crimes reported in the country and served as a wakeup call for the government and administration and for women’s welfare organizations alike.
Crimes Against Women
Despite growing awareness and much activism, women’s security remains a major issue in India. The women of the country fall victim to a great number of rape, assault, physical abuse and acid attacks each year. What is worse, very few of them are reported to the police and not much is done about them. According to statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), some 34,651 rape cases were registered in 2015. Around 2,095 of these cases were reported in the national capital, Delhi. And if you think crimes against women are confined to Delhi-NCR, think again. About 4,391 rape cases were reported from Madhya Pradesh in 2015. Odisha reported 2,251 rape cases that year; Assam reported 1,733; and the eastern state of West Bengal registered 1,129 rape cases in 2015.
In the first six months of 2016, around 910 rape cases were reported from Kerala. In all, 3.27 lakh cases of crimes against women (both sexual and non-sexual) were registered across the country last year. Even when such cases of crime are registered offenders often go unpunished due to the lack of fast track courts and absence of an unrelenting legal system.