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‘I feel like we are frozen in time’: Mother of December 16 gangrape victim

The gang rape of a 23-year-old five years ago was thought to be a watershed moment against sex crimes. But not much has changed on the ground

delhi Updated: Dec 16, 2017 09:48 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
A Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
December 16 gang rape,Delhi gang rape,Nirbhaya gang rape
Mother of December 16 gang rape victim breaks down during an interaction with Hindustan Times at her residence on Tuesday.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

Five years ago, on this date, six men gangraped a 23-year-old woman in Delhi. The brutality of the crime, which led to the death of the victim, shook the collective conscience of the nation and brought into limelight the question of women’s safety. It precipitated legal amendments, increased reporting and a discussion around the issue.

Five years later, the mother of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student feels not much has changed in the attitude of people and the response of the justice system. And a sense of impunity still prevails among perpetrators.

“When I saw the number of people who had stood with us, we thought a lot would change. Maybe now, nothing like this will ever happen again with any other girl... but the way the situation is continuing now, the way young girls are still falling prey to this monstrosity. A few weeks ago, two children were assaulted. The way such crimes are still happening, I feel like we are still frozen in time five years ago,” she said.

Read | ‘Brutal, barbaric, diabolic’: SC upholds death for convicts in 2012 gang rape case

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of rape cases reported in Delhi more than tripled from 706 in 2012 to 2155 in 2016. Across India too, this number jumped by over 40% from 2012 to 2016.

Even today, I meet people and families who have gone through something similar and want the culprits punished. But they don’t want to come forward. They are worried about what will people think, who will marry her.

The woman, whose daughter died in Sinagpore on December 29, 2012, after battling for life for 13 days, said it is encouraging to see more and more women coming out to report the crime. She, however, said that stigma and shame persist in certain sections of society where victims are still blamed.

“Even today, I meet people and families who have gone through something similar and want the culprits punished. But they don’t want to come forward. They are worried about what will people think, who will marry her. I say you are worried about things that will happen maybe 10 years in the future but how will the girl survive right now? How will she forget? If there is some justice, then the girl will also get some closure,” she said.

Rape laws were amended on the suggestions of the Justice Verma Committee and around 1,600 fast-track courts were set up in the aftermath of the incident.

However, this mother argues that the “system” has not changed. Five years down the line, courts are still hearing review petitions in her daughter’s case.

“Things that need to change haven’t changed. Our governments have not changed. Their thoughts have not changed. The system has not changed. Some police stations and officers haven’t changed their ways. If our regime, administration and system changed, then we would not be in this condition,” she said.

However, she finds a glimmer of hope in increased awareness, especially among the younger, educated lot.

Read| December 16 gang rape: Will they really hang him, asks convict’s sister

“I visit colleges not just in Delhi, but outside as well (for events). I feel satisfied when I see that it is not the university officials who organise these events, but students. Young boys and girls are organising talks and debates on women’s safety. This shows they have started thinking about it. They want to work against it, because they feel they need to do something. That they need to change people’s thoughts, attitudes and perspectives,” she said.

A night of horror, trauma
DECEMBER 16
8.30pm: The 23-year-old paramedic and her friend leave Saket Select City Walk Mall after watching the movie, Life of Pi. They reach Munirka in an auto and wait for a bus
9.15pm: They board a white bus.
10pm: The six convicts, including a minor, rape the woman, brutally assault her, beat her friend and rob their phones, and tear their clothes. They throw them near Gurgaon toll plaza. A PCR takes them to Safdarjung Hospital.
DECEMBER 17
FIR registered in Vasant Kunj. Later in the day, police trace the bus and arrest Ram Singh who drove it. Others arrested in the next few days.
December 29
She dies at a Singapore Hospital.
2013 Police file chargesheet. Ram Singh commits suicide in Tihar. Juvenile Justice Board convicts the minor. Fast track court awards death sentence to remaining four adult accused.
2014 High Court upholds the death sentence
2016 In May, the Supreme Court rejects the convicts’ plea and upholds the death sentence awarded to the convicts

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 23:08 IST