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08.01.2020
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The nation seems to be in a celebratory mood following the decision by a Delhi court to hang the four convicts in the sensational 

Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case. It’s being suggested that justice has finally been served to “India’s Daughter” and though the decision came after a staggering seven years, it will help secure the safety of women and prevent rape cases in the future.

But the verdict in one case -- welcome though it is -- cannot alone help bring down crimes against women as there are hundreds of similar cases still pending in the courts, and thousands that have gone unreported. Many of these --such as that of a veterinary doctor who was raped and set ablaze by four truck drivers and cleaners near a toll gate in the southern city of Hyderabad in November last year -- bear uncanny similarities to the Nirbhaya case.

Several are more brutal still

More importantly, the judiciary is only one aspect of the narrative, and the ball falls in their court only after the heinous act is committed. Without keen participation of the legislative and the executive, therefore, the safety of women cannot be guaranteed in India.

For example, darkness still lurks at 'the' bus stand in south Delhi's Munirka locality with women battling lewd remarks and stares, demonstrating that little has changed in the seven years since the young intern who came to be known as Nirbhaya boarded a bus for a ride that was to be her last.

According to news agency PTI, women, who are regular commuters, say the bus stop turns into an unauthorised parking area after 9 pm and they have to face unwelcome comments and leering men almost every day.

The Nirbhaya case surely triggered a change in India's rape laws. But on the ground, not much may have changed. Of the six men convicted, Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide in jail and the juvenile was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term while the four others are now set to be hanged on January 22. 

The criminals in-house

On the other hand, several of the present Lok Sabha members, who are supposed to pass strict legislation to prevent crimes, including those against women, themselves have criminal charges against them.

Of the 539 winning candidates analysed by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), as many as 233 MPs or 43 per cent have criminal charges. The BJP has 116 MPs or 39 per cent of its winning candidates with criminal cases, followed by 29 MPs (57 per cent) from the Congress, 13 (81 per cent) from the JDU, 10 (43 per cent) from the DMK and nine (41 per cent) from the TMC.

In the Lok Sabha currently, nearly 29 per cent of the cases are related to rape, murder, attempt to murder or crime against women. And the saga continues in the police stations too, where rape victims and complainants have to undergo a tiring process, and often face humiliation.

What we forget in the current state of jubilation that has followed the announcement of the date on which the convicts in the Nirbhaya case will be hanged are the psychological dimensions that lead to rape and assaults against women. It is as much a societal problem as it is a question of law and order. 

A verdict, in this case, may help serve justice to Nirbhaya’s parents, who took it upon themselves to fight it out till the very top but in no way does it help serve justice to Nirbhaya. She was victimised because of the patriarchal mindset that is inherent in Indian society, which regards women as objects and whose dignity is repeatedly abused. 

The absence of law and order, the state machinery, the dark and desolate bus stop along with the lack of fear in the rapists were also among the factors responsible for the tragedy that struck on December 16, 2012. Seven years on, and unfortunately, not much has changed. The results are unfolding themselves every day but we continue to overlook them. 

Even on the day when the date for the execution of the four rapists was announced, a woman was allegedly raped at gunpoint after being kidnapped from the parking lot of a mall in Patna. 

It’s been barely eight days into 2020, the year for and beyond which, former President and globally renowned scientist APJ Abdul Kalam had set high targets but rape cases, as well as crimes against women, do not seem to cease. If anything, the numbers are rising and more and more daughters of India are being victimised.

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