It has been a year to the tragic rape of a student on a Delhi bus. The assault itself, her death, the reaction and protests, the case, as well as the verdict, all are a part of the year that was 2013.
Have things changed?
Yes, there is more awareness; people are more vigilant and there are stricter measures to deal with rape and assault.
However, the rape continues to plague Indian society. Here are some of the incidents that took place this year.
This is not a sign of a society on the mend, of a safer place for women.
According to the elder sister of a girl raped in a small village in Punjab, police officials refused to register the case and then pressured her to make peace with the alleged rapists. On 26 December, the young woman swallowed poison just as protests were gaining momentum in Delhi.
Yes, the media has raised awareness among the people, who are now willing to take a stand as well as measures to ensure their own safety. Conversations that were once swept under the carpet are now taking place. The problem is being discussed.
Unfortunately in India, as in many countries across the world, women still have to fight for basic rights. Worst still, they are blamed for offences committed against them.
Why did they go out at a certain time? Why were they wearing provocative clothes? These are some the questions asked by the authorities.
Yes, it’s a long road ahead, but at least the nation seems to be heading in some direction over rape.
So, as the New Year approaches, the world’s largest democracy must aim for a few things to make that crucial difference:
1. A change in people’s mindsets: The victim cannot be blamed. No one ‘asks’ for it.
2. Removing the stigma: The victim should be encouraged to speak up. There should be no shame in reporting a crime.
You may also like to read: Responding To Rape: Women In India Turn To Self Defense
3. Legal reforms and their implementation Legal reforms are taking place, but their implementation is necessary, as is keeping a check on corruption at all levels.
4. Bystanders must take action: Sadly, in most instances, people do nothing to help as they do not consider a rape case their problem and would much rather avoid being dragged into the mess.
5. Redefining Manhood: Last, but by no means the least, men need to learn that being a man is not about power over the ’weaker’ sex or dominance. Respecting the opposite gender does not take away from them, instead it adds to it. In fact, it is a little unfair to put the onus on the men only; it is the society as a whole that needs to reform.
2013 started with the grim Delhi rape case, it is ending with the magazine editor of one of India’s most prominent papers, being accused of sexual harassment. Not much has changed, but progress has been made in a small way.
Here’s hoping that with collective efforts, 2014 will be a better year.