On December 16, a 23-year-old college student was assaulted and raped in Delhi in a moving bus and was thrown off naked and almost dead. The girl is struggling for her life. But this gruesome incident has taken the country by the storm, sparking large protests nationwide against the unsafe environment for women.
The week that followed the Delhi gang rape reveals a number of facets of contemporary India,s ome good, some bad, and some very bad. I have picked up three distinct themes – good, bad, and worst – to effectively portray the country as it is today.
1) GOOD: Public Protests and Media
The unfortunate incident evoked mass public protests across the nation. The protests were largely organized by youth demanding stringent laws to curb rape crimes and severe punishment for all the accused of gang rape. Media, on the other hand, for most part of the day reported the incident in forms of debates, live reporting of protests, and special reports. The media ended up fueling public ire and thereby supported the protests.
2) BAD: India is Unsafe for Women
Rape cases have become the rule of the day. In recent years, there has been a 10% annual rise in rape cases. More than 600 rape cases have been reported this year in the capital city itself. A recent study found that a rape occurs every 20 minutes, and eve teasing (public sexual harassment) every 25 minutes. Law and order are in a dismal state. Many of the rape cases have even taken place in police stations! As the CM of Delhi NCR rightly stated in a recent interview that people who should see police as their protector have started looking them as criminals beneath uniforms.
3) WORST: Government does not care
The worst aspect of last week was the government’s attitude. While an American can expect their president to give a speech on an unfortunate event and give them the hope that everything will be all right, an Indian can hardly expect their leaders to do the same. Even after a week, even after the large public protests, the President and Prime Minister have yet to speak about the gang rape issue in particular and women safety in general.
This indifference by the government is threatening for a nation, in addition to the unhealthy environment for women. But if people and media remain conscious of their responsibility, something positive can be hoped for.