India's rape capital tag still sticks

A year after the Delhi gang rape, as India witnesses slow but important changes, it still has a long way to go to remove this blot on its democracy.

Irrespective of a swift verdict in the December 16, 2012 incident, the country continues to be referred to as ‘rape capital of the world’.

It is a known fact that rape is alarmingly common in India. However, it often goes unreported, given that the woman usually bears the brunt of the blame. That’s the reason why countless girls and women do not dare become symbols of courage or justice.

Thankfully, in the Delhi gang rape case, the assailants were tried relatively quickly, in a country where sexual assault cases often go on for years. Four defendants were sentenced to death. Another hanged himself in prison, though his family insists he was killed. And an 18-year-old, who was a juvenile at the time of the attack, was sentenced to three years in a reform home.

But, this does not mean that the message has created fear among perpetrators — incidents of rape have actually increased.

The National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2012 makes it evident that the number of complaints registered with the police has risen by nearly 3 per cent.

The amount of cases that were charge-sheeted — documented as a crime — was 95 per cent. But fewer than 15 per cent of rape cases came to trial
last year.

It is common knowledge that women in rural India are subjected to horrific crimes on a daily basis, but their cases never make headlines, because they’re deemed not as important.

Less than a year after the Delhi incident, the Mumbai rape case of a photojournalist shook the nation. In just a week’s time, all the rapists were behind bars.

It was just last month that the high-profile editor of an Indian magazine, known for exposing abuses of power, was arrested, after a young female colleague accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Goa hotel elevator during a conference.

It is imperative to empower all women, most of whom are still financially and emotionally dependent on their male relatives. Even in metros, women can barely raise their heads and voices in most households. Unless every single woman is empowered, the country will continue to be recognised as the rape capital across the globe. 

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