It was four years ago, on a similar cold Delhi winter night, that the Nirbhaya rape case occurred, and shook the country and the world.
Four years later, let us try to understand- has anything changed? Have inroads been made in terms of women’s safety?
We all know that the accused had been sentenced to death by hanging, except for the juvenile who has been given the punishment of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility. The UPA government of the time had announced the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ in the 2013-14 budget with an initial corpus of Rs 1000 crore. By now this budget has grown up to Rs 3000 crore to be spent on women safety annually. Sadly, until date not a single project funded through this budget has taken off however. There was also an additional Rs 200 crore from Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) and Rs 324 crore from Crimes Against Women (CAW) (Source – International Business Times). As per the last update this year, it was reported by the International Business Times that 40 percent of the Nirbhaya funds lie unspent.
Rapes reported in Delhi have increased 200 per cent since 2012, the year Nirbhaya was raped, setting in motion mass protests, political promises and efforts at reform. A comparison of Delhi police reports from 2014 and 2015 revealed a rise in the rape cases withdrawn, from 81 to 104, possibly indicating a lack of faith in the criminal-justice system, especially as cases fail judicial scrutiny. Other crimes against women rose 50 per cent over the same period, from 208 to 1498, according to Delhi Police data. Growing violence in a city of 18 million people and 866 women for every 1,000 males may be inevitable, but it is clear the police need to do more to protect women.
We had earlier reported about Delhi Government, allocating funds for women’s safety in its budget. On the issue of women’s safety, we are organizing a “Safe City is a Smart City” conference on 20th of December, bringing together representatives from the Delhi police, women’s rights activists and other stakeholders. We need to now pressurize the government to improve safety systems of our big cities. Unless we all come together as a society, there will be many more Nirbhayas.
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