It’s been almost a year since the gang rape of a medical student in Delhi and her subsequent death sparked angry protests across the country and forced the government to amend the law to bring in stringent anti-rape legislation. It’s been a long year for the young woman’s family, whose lives changed irrevocably that cold December night. HT speaks to her father about how the family is coping and whether women are any safer in the country.
Almost a year since the incident, how is your family coping?
We can’t forget her sacrifice. For my sons and me, it’s still easy as we go about with our work. But it is impossible to divert her mother’s mind. She would have become a doctor (sic.) today had she been alive, just like her friends have. But that was not to be…
A number of measures were announced by the government for the safety and security of women. Do you think things have changed?
The result of the protests are there to be seen. People have started discussing sexual assaults rather than treating it as a taboo. Tarun Tejpal and Asaram are behind bars thanks to the awareness created by the gang rape and murder. We hope things will improve further.
Authorities promised to make Delhi safer after the gang rape. Do you think the promises have been fulfilled? What still needs to be done?
There is still a lot to be done by the government. Things will not improve merely by installing CCTV cameras. Even today, there are stretches which are so poorly lit that women dread walking there. I live in Dwarka and despite it being a posh locality, the majority of street lights still do not work.
Are you satisfied with the changes in the law after the incident?
Four of the six accused were awarded death penalty. But I regret that the juvenile got away without any harsh punishment. For me, a three-year stay at a reformatory can’t be described as punishment. I have moved the Supreme Court to ensure he too gets punished for the crime he committed.
What more can be done to ensure that women feel safe in the city?
Nothing is greater than the law. The public should fear the law and that will only happen if we have strict punishment for those committing crimes. Currently, there is no fear among criminals. But they must think twice about punishment they will get. Only this can act as a deterrent.