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News: Revisiting Delhi rape – one year on (Al Jazeera)

No-Rape-Asia-health-care-issuesIndia has never been the same again, since a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped in a moving bus in the capital New Delhi exactly a year ago.

The girl died a few days later, but the emotional scar that the brutal assault on the night of December 16, 2012, left on an outraged nation is yet to heal.

The gang-rape triggered street protests, murmurs of which are still felt across the country. It also led to a fresh set of stringent laws against crimes against women.  But has the upheaval that followed the Delhi gang-rape made the capital any safer?  Al Jazeera asked a range of young women in Delhi their thoughts.

Manta Sidhu, 30, Musician

From what we read in the newspapers every day, rape cases continue to be rampant. Despite the national uproar demanding security measures for women, there is no sign of implementation of such measures, no matter what the government or the police authorities might claim. If a woman is pulled into a car full of men while she walks on the road, I wonder how a women’s helpline number is going to help?

The general sentiment among women in the city is that of insecurity. Everyone talks about it. Everyone tells the other to try and be safe. I, being a performing musician, have many late nights. And with most of my work based in South Delhi and, my residence being in West Delhi, I often found myself staying over at my friend’s place during the nights to avoid driving across the city alone.

A few months back, I finally shifted to South Delhi. My family considered it to be the safest choice.

There have been umpteenth cases of sexual assault or rape cases during broad daylight and early evening hours. Women being asked to be home before dark is an absurd and primitive thought. There is no fear of the law, there is no fear of punishment. Until the country imposes capital punishment for rapists, there will be no fear and there will no stopping for these criminal minds.

Anushka Bhartiya, 27, Journalist

Not much has changed in reality. Just after the incident, I could see that people were a bit cautious.

The Delhi Metro’s women coaches were not flooded with men, which generally used to be the case. One could find police vans at random places too.

But this happened only for a month or so. After that, the city was back to its real self. Personally, I have experienced eve- teasing and once, there was a man who deliberately stopped at a red light just to abuse me.

These are things that have unfortunately become a regular feature in a girl’s life in Delhi. The city is of course not safe in the night. You can never be sure that you are at a safe place in the city. I avoid travelling in autos after 10 pm.

I end my day quite late in the night but thanks to the cab provided by my organisation, I can afford to reach home by 11.30 pm. Otherwise, it is just impossible to step out so late.

Pema Tashi Pelden, 21, Law Student

Prior to the horrific gang rape incident things were still better, I would travel alone and didn’t fear going out at night.

After that incident my parents back home got alarmed about the condition in Delhi, they are worried whenever I am out. I no longer go out alone. Instead I prefer travelling in a group. I am scared to go out at night.

I don’t think much has changed in the last one year, in fact as long as the society is patriarchal here nothing can change.

Yes, women are not safe in the city, in the country, anywhere.

I don’t feel safe not even in broad daylight or when there is a police station in the vicinity. I am from north-east and there is an extra baggage of discrimination that I have to bear for the place I belong to.

Manisha Dutta, 22, student

Right from stereotyping terms like ‘chinky’ to the differences in terms of language, dresses and food habits, there is sheer discrimination in which our inability to speak proficiently in Hindi, pork being in our list of diet are seen as inferiority complex.

The root of any violence begins with such discrimination and it stretches for generations.

My parents are liberal in whatsoever decisions I take, wherever I choose to go but if it comes to travelling from Delhi to my hometown by train they strictly forbid me owing to a decade-old case of harassment of a group of women from North-east while they were travelling by train.

What deeply saddens me is that the capital has come to bear the tag like ‘unsafe for women’ ‘city of violence against women’ ‘rape city’ due to the soaring cases of crime against women becoming prominent.

Ironically this is the same capital where thousands of young girls and women pour in from far away regions across India to receive the best of education, work in the best of places and yet at the end of the day, has to think twice before stepping out in the dark.

For the full story, click here.


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