One year after the vicious assault of a student on a Delhi bus, protests and reports of abuse in India have increased. But is it any better to be a woman there today?
It took the police 14 days to register the rape allegation and a further 30 days to make an arrest, by which time the victim had killed herself. The awful case of a 17-year-old kidnapped from her small village in India and raped by two men in a field during Diwali’s November celebrations emerged only after last year’s horrific gang rape of another student in Delhi on 16 December 2012 sparked international outrage.
The 23-year-old student was travelling home from the cinema with a friend when she was viciously attacked by six men on a bus. The woman died from her injuries 13 days later while undergoing em8ergency treatment in Singapore, in a case that sparked national and international protest. A year on, it seems fair to ask what difference horrific cases such as these have made to the treatment of women in India.
The elder sister of the girl from the small village in the Punjab who was raped in a field has said that after the teenager tried to report the incident, police officials first refused to register the case and then pressured her to make peace with the alleged rapists. “On some occasions, the policemen would take her to the police station in late evening hours. They also tried to force her to withdraw her complaint.” The attackers, under no legal restraint, threatened their victim and her family.
On 26 December, the young woman swallowed poison just as protests were gaining momentum in Delhi. One news presenter said: “Even as Delhi streets are bubbling over with protests, it took the suicide of a 17-year-old rape victim for the police to finally act on her complaint. What good is that now?”