'The rape of Delhi's safety code'

In the absence of police security, there is a code that governs women safety in the capital, like when to step out, where to venture and who to be with; follow the code diligently and your honour shall remain intact. However the latest gang rape case smashes into smithereens — every tenet of this ‘safety code’. In other words, anyone and everyone in the capital is fair game for rapists on the prowl. This truly is a new benchmark for the rape capital of India.

1. Don’t be late: Be safe. Girls in the capital are conditioned to avoid late nights out, but in this case the victim and her friend boarded the White Line bus at 9.15 pm, not an ungodly hour, but at a time when Delhi is up and about and many streets are bustling with people. Yet, the perpetrators did not think twice about executing their crime on the busy roads of the capital.

2. Be in a safe zone: Delhi’s ‘good girls’ are warned against venturing into ‘bad places’; but here was a promising young paramedic student who was returning from Select Citywalk; arguably the most up-market mall in the capital and yet she had to meet this fate. No place in the city can be chalked out as ‘safe for girls’

3. Public mode of transport: Getting into private cars is a strict no no, cabs too are also fraught with risks, so buses were considered to be relatively safer (till now). Maybe the victim and her friend thought that there would be safety in numbers, but in Delhi the fear of law is non-existent and numbers don’t matter. The latest case has left young girls with one more mode of transport that they can’t trust.

4. Safety of company: Being alone at night in Delhi is a sure shot way to invite trouble — but for those with male companionship, it was considered to be a safe bet. Not anymore, now it could be your boyfriend, brother or father who could be beaten to a pulp before the rapists begin a free-for-all party.

5. Dress conservatively: Delhi is never the place to show your curves or try the latest haute couture, girls here have leant to live with that or face the consequences. But in the middle of the winter, here was one girl who was trying to make it home without attracting anyone’s attention. Little did she know that rapists in the capital today need little provocation to act on their impulses. Doctors involved in the case say that they have never seen such a level of brutality in a rape case, while the police themselves are shocked with the brazenness of the act. The citizens are wondering if rape is becoming so violent in the capital.

Perhaps yes. As a radio caller bluntly pointed out today, very soon your doorbell will ring and you would be asked to step out because the ‘visitors’ would want to enjoy themselves with your wife and sisters. In Delhi, that is a very real possibility.

— A Delhi-based journalist, Akash Banerjee is the author of Tales from Shining and Sinking India 

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