Candles were lit, angry speeches made and copious tears shed after December's gang rape of a young woman in south Delhi, and vows of change rang out.
But less than three months on, things are getting worse, not better, for the capital region’s women. All promises of better policing and
protection are ringing horribly hollow.
As if to spit in the face of International Women’s Day on Friday, the city’s brutes have struck all through this week. Raped in Delhi on Wednesday and Thursday: a young woman working in a pub, a 15-year-old domestic help, a housewife, a jobseeker and an eight-year-old.
Since the beginning of the year, when hope of change was at its peak, a case of molestation or rape has been reported every two hours in Delhi. In 2012, it was one every six hours. Seeking to find a silver lining, the police are saying this is due to more adequate reporting of cases.
That silver lining is absent in Gurgaon and Noida, the other constituents of the National Capital Region, but the cloud is equally dark.
In posh Gurgaon, cases of molestation and rape have ticked up from seven a month to eight, surely an unrealistically small number.
On Thursday morning, a 27-year-old woman, employed in a top BPO in Gurgaon, alleged rape by her colleagues and the driver of the call centre cab that was dropping her home the previous evening. She, however, withdrew the rape charges later. Police are not closing the case yet.
In Noida, 10 cases of molestation and rape have been registered every month this year, compared with four a month last year — a sharp increase but probably just a fraction of the actual.
And in nearby Ghaziabad, which plumbed a new low when a Class XII student was allegedly abducted, beaten up and raped by three men on Monday after she boarded a share auto near the busy Shipra Mall, eight rape cases have been registered to date this year.
In the corresponding period last year, only two rape cases were registered in this suburban town.
In the wake of the December 16 Delhi rape, HT had demanded more police boots on the ground, better technology, fast-tracking of rape cases, better conviction of criminals and rehabilitation of women. The response has been patchy at best - from promises and minor progress in Delhi to next to nothing in the NCR.
The 23-year old woman gang-raped by six hoodlums in December died two weeks later after a brave battle. If authorities in Delhi NCR cannot bring themselves to act soon, there is a real danger that her sacrifice will have been in vain.
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