The infamous Nirbhaya gang rape brought out tens of thousands of people onto the streets across India demanding safety for women. The laws after the incident indeed changed, but the situation hasn’t.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, provided for rigorous life term and death penalty for rape convicts in addition to stringent punishments for offences like acid attacks, stalking, and voyeurism. For the first time, stalking and voyeurism were defined by the law as non-bailable offences if repeated for the second time and even prescribed punishment. These changes were made after the recommendations of the Justice J Verma Committee.
These changes have not yielded the desired results. According to the NCRB data, 33,977 rape cases were reported in 2018. An average of 89 rapes daily. Just over 85% led to charges, and 27% to convictions.
The centre had set up a Nirbhaya fund in 2018 to provide for the safety of women. But of the ₹2,050 crores, it had allocated to various states from this corpus, only 20% has reportedly been utilised. This raises a question on the seriousness of authorities in dealing with such crimes.
A 2018 research titled Why do men rape? Understanding the determinants of rapes in India found that social attitude towards women as the robust predictor of the rapes in India. It argued that the fundamental problem lies in the misogyny deeply rooted in Indian society.
The sluggishness in the justice delivery system in India needs correction. There is a need for stringent implementation of laws, and for speedy trials in such cases. The probe agencies also need to be sensitised. Change in our social attitude towards women is also the current need. Misogyny needs to be uprooted. Now or never!