‘Calling Delhi The Rape Capital Is Condoning The Rapists’

Madhuri Bhowmick, 30, an artiste based in New Delhi, says it will unfair to label the city as Rape Capital because it takes away the seriousness of a heinous crime

I am a trained classical dancer and owing to my profession I have to navigate many a late night in the city. I was born and brought up in Delhi and love the city. Every time a new rape case grabs the headlines, I, like most women, feel overwhelmed and angry. But I don’t give in to the fear. I mostly take an Uber (app-based taxi) during late nights and don’t compromise on my safety.

Yet, there is a 70:30 ratio conflict. Every time I go out, 70% of my thoughts tell me I will be safe and secure, owing to my own presence of mind and the security systems in place by the government. But 30% at the back of my mind, scary thoughts do run.

Having said that, I believe calling Delhi as the ‘rape capital’ of the world isn’t justified. Putting a label, any kind of label, on heinous crimes takes away the responsibility from the perpetrators of the crime. Delhi isn’t responsible for the rapes; it is the psychology of the individual who devalues another human being is the cause of concern. Each rape case is different; it is an individual who has been devalued and we should be careful about generalising it.

Delhi, in fact the whole of India, is seriously overpopulated. Crimes can flourish and go undetected amongst a sea of people. And it’s not as if other places in the world don’t have the problem of women being treated miserably; let’s talk about the issue that happened, rather than the place it happened in.

Bhowmick often returns late from work in Delhi

Post-Nirbhaya we thought the world would be a better place because of the outcry it generated. But even two years after the convicts were hanged, there has been no improvement. There is no fear of law, and the wheels of justice are overburdened and slow. And then there’s the issue of marital rape being discussed in the courts.

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I believe that apart from legal changes, we need social changes or social sensitisation of the people. The huge nationwide drive for vaccination shows that it is possible to reach out to even the remotest corner of the country if we have the will. Perhaps rape or safety of women should be taken just as seriously as a pandemic.

Sex education should be made mandatory everywhere if we are to remove the problem right from its roots. Be it Delhi or anywhere, our parenting styles also need a change. In many households male-female friendships are frowned upon. We need to normalise male-female interactions. We as a society focus on IQ but we need to focus on Emotional intelligence too.

And lastly, I believe that like in every part of the world, lovely people reside in Delhi as well. So many news channels that can be used to spread social messages (including that of safety of women) indulge only in sensationalism; they are just trying to find material for their 24×7 news cycle. So, no, let’s not call Delhi the rape capital of the world, let’s not take away from the seriousness of the crime.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

‘Tardy Justice Breeds Calls For Extra-Judicial Killings’

Shaina, 33, a resident of Loni area in Delhi-NCR, was returning from college on August 11, 2009, when she was attacked with acid by a jilted lover. An activist for women’s rights, she demands speedy justice in crimes against women and death penalty for rapists.

I cannot forget that day. It was a beautiful evening. I was feeling a cool breeze after a spell of rain. I was returning from my college classes unaware of how things would change for me from that day onward. A man had been stalking me for several months and had proposed me time and again for marriage. That day he was on a two-wheeler with an accomplice. As soon as he came in front of me, I thought he would try to convince me once again. I was wrong. Angered by taking a no to his moves, he had carried a bottle of acid with him, which he threw on my face.

The pain was unbearable. Even while in pain, I tried to catch hold of him but he escaped. I felt my skin was melting and I cried for help. The passers-by were also shocked as they be seeing such a horrific incident in person for the first time.

They took me to the hospital but by that time, my face was had been severely damaged. The treatment was long and costly and even though I survived, I could not find the courage to see my face in mirror.

I fought a long legal battle and today both the attackers are behind the bars, serving life imprisonment.

That incident happened more than a decade ago. But when I look at social scenario today, not much has changed in these ten years. Like me, all the women who faced similar or more heinous crime, have to wait for years to get justice. Families of those who were raped and killed, like Nirbhaya, have to live often with disgrace, agony and pain. Laws after laws are being passed but the prevention of crime against women is not possible with a tardy justice system.

This is why most people, including me, feel that the Hyderabad Police is probably right in having killed the rapists and murderers of Dr Reddy, even though it has set a wrong precedent. What will the policemen do if the judicial system takes so long to hang such monsters?

The rapists and murderers of Nirbhaya are still in jail for years even after being awarded the capital punishment. One mercy petition after another is being filed for them to buy time. How long the parents of Nirbhaya seek justice? There has to be an end. There has to be a fear of law among such criminals. Without eminent threat of death, such heinous cases are hard to be prevented. 

Not only the justice system but the police too needs to act fast on such complaints. There should be no laid back attitude by the agencies and immediate disciplinary action must be taken against those officers who are delaying investigation.

Today my life’s only aim is to fight against atrocities against women. I know I have lost a lot of things in life but the acid attack has given me a new motive to carry on. I am working with the Delhi Commission for Women as a Mahila Panchayat member and giving strength and providing all possible aid to women who face violence and sexual assault. Hope the governments work together in strengthening of laws, courts and police for effective action and quick justice in all such cases.