If anyone thinks that the heading is sensational then, the answer is, yes it is deliberately so. Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has long been called the Rape Capital of India. It is a moniker that has been defended by the victims and scowled upon by those who think it’s a figment of malefic imagination.
Many a protests, peaceful and otherwise had shook the Capital a few years back in December 2012, when a young girl returning home in a bus with a male friend was first gang-raped in the moving vehicle and then, brutally injured and thrown from the bus, left to die. Only, she did not die. Instead, she stayed alive for a few days shaking the nation’s collective conscience and heart when she told her mother, she wanted to live. But, even the prayers of millions of Indians could not keep her alive. She died a few days later.
Nirbhaya or the fearless, as the Press named her trying belatedly to protect her identity for sake of her honor, that had been brutally torn with her vagina when the goons pushed sharp instruments through it once the deed was done. She died of bleeding from those inhuman injuries.
It shook the world. It shook every parent of daughters and perhaps every woman around. People protested, kept vigil, asked for special laws, fought with the police and in general compelled the government to take action. In March 2013, around four months after this incidence, the government came out with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 or the Nirbhatya Act promising strict punishment for sexual offenders.
Though many across the country rejoiced, those who were skeptical of its application have been proved correct in the last four years.
Rape is perhaps more common now than ever before and despite the so-called draconian laws there is no abatement in the number of rape cases being registered and reported in the media.
Women in the NCR region know that they are unsafe. Period.
Stay at home, stay safe no more
Today the situation is so bad that the most popular preventive measure for women, often termed regressive, is also not daunting criminals any more. It was only last night that a girl staying alone in a Greater Noida flat was attacked by the building’s security guard.
It was not like her door was left ajar in the middle of the night to invite trouble. She was sleeping peacefully at night when a knock on the door of her 12th floor flat woke her up. She went to see who it was secure in the knowledge that she stays in a gated community and that there are neighbors next door.
The door when opened revealed the watchman of the society who then promptly tried to wrestle his way in safe in the knowledge that no one from her floor would be able to help her as he had bolted all the doors of the other flats from outside.
What could have happened if the girl had not fought back and raised a ruckus is anybody’s guess. The news is full of cases of brutal rapes, some followed by even brutal murders sometimes by close relatives, friends or neighbors.
This girl was however lucky as the noise woke up neighbors from the other floors who rushed to her rescue. They not only saved her but, also caught and handed over the offender hiding in the bathroom of an empty flat to the police.
She was saved but, too many fall prey to sexual predators in our midst. Small children as little as some months old have died after being raped by people whose responsibility was to protect them. Elderly ladies have fallen victims – never thinking they were on hit list of sex crimes. Even little boys are unsafe.
While psychologists may have fancy names for such criminals and blame their upbringing or call them victims of child abuse, women in NCR are at grave risk.
Despite fancy gadgetry like CCTV camera and state-of-the-art alarm systems, predators are walking free and simply knocking at the doors to gain entry.
If this is not a wake-up call then what is?
When a housing society recruits guards and watchmen are they even whetting the candidates or checking their backgrounds to know who they are? These men who would be responsible for the safety of the women, elder and children left alone at home can easily be convicted criminals or habitual sexual offenders on the run.
- How safe is it to hire a security guard through an agency or otherwise?
- How else can we find security personnel to safeguard our homes and loved ones?
- How do we ensure that they are not criminals on the run?
These are the questions each member of every Residents Welfare Association (RWA) should be debating and probably seeking help from the government security agencies like the local police to get answers from.
After all, if a girl is not safe in her own home in a gated community then, can we really say that we live in a safe country or a civilized society?
Action Plan Needed
While we may often blame the unknown elements and the impoverished class for sex crimes but, it is not always true. Many times it is someone close to the family who turns out to be the predator. Most such cases go unreported for the sake of the “family’s reputation.”
A country that worships the goddess in every form, from mother to teacher and nature to strength, a family’s reputation seems to rely on its woman’s ability to not get raped. In a country where 34,600 cases were registered in the year 2016 alone women seem to have very little protection – here we are not counting the thousands that are never reported.
If not getting raped is the crux of the family’s honor, then, the menfolk and the leadership of the nation needs to come up with a better plan than draconian laws that take the victims forever to prove in court to get implemented.
Obviously criminals are not worried. Rapes are rampant in police stations, in custody, at hospitals and anywhere you can think, bus stops, roadsides now even at homes. Before it becomes impossible for women to breath in this atmosphere without getting molested, we as a nation, collectively need to come up with a plan to curb not scare the criminals.
Do share your views and thoughts here or on our Facebook/ Twitter page if you want to be the one to bring about a change. It is time already. Because, if not now then, when?