For the last two years, parents of the December 16 gang-rape victim have been trying to come to terms with their daughter’s death, or rather, murder. The barbaric incident shocked the country, led to widespread protests and resulted in stricter punishment for sex crimes, at least, on paper.
But, according to parents of the 23-year-old physiotherapist, rapists are far less afraid of consequences today.
One major reason, they say, is that their daughter’s rapists, who were sentenced to death, are yet to be hanged. “The case is in the Supreme Court. There has not been a single hearing in months. Nobody tells us anything,” says the victim’s father. The rape of a 26-year-old woman by the driver of a cab booked through Uber has reminded them of what their daughter went through.
“Fresh laws are no deterrent. This (Uber) taxi driver referred to how our daughter’s rapists brutalised her with an iron rod. He even threatened the passenger that he too had an iron rod handy if she resisted or complained later,” says the distraught mother.
According to her, rapists today are emboldened “as they know nothing actually happens”. She feels punishing the December 16 rapists will prevent Uber-like cases.
Regretting that nothing has changed on ground, she says, “Autorickshaws still refuse to ferry people to certain places saying they would not get passengers while returning. They refuse to travel to Dwarka. This is what forced my daughter into unsafe travel.”
Her husband agrees. “My daughter was killed on a bus. People said the vehicle was unsafe. Cabs are supposed to be the safest. But look what’s happening. How do women commute? Government spends so much money. Why can’t women security be a focus area in the years to come?” he asks.
One of the December 16 rape accused, Ram Singh, died in Tihar in March 2013. In August of the same year, the lone juvenile convict in the case was sent to a reform facility. A month later, a lower court found the remaining four accused guilty of rape and murder, and sentenced them to death. In March 2014, the Delhi high court upheld the death penalty, following which the convicts moved the Supreme Court.
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