Nirbhaya rape case: Actions that have been taken towards women safety since then

The case garnered a lot of attention and became synonymous with women's rights for safety in this country as well as outside.

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The 2012 Delhi gang rape or the Nirbhaya rape case brought forth a lot of issues right from the power of youth who unanimously stood up for a cause, to the security of women in the democratic country which boasts of being a female nation.

The case garnered a lot of attention and became synonymous with women's rights for safety in this country as well as outside. However, after all these years, were these issues addressed as they should have been?

Our newspapers, today, still show the ongoing discussion and divided opinion on the release of juvenile convict or about Parliament contemplating on criminalising marital rape. However, does a country with a female population of 624 million, feel safe as instances of sexual exploitation make news every morning?

Three years down the line, let us see if things seemed to have changed for better or for worse after the horrifying night of December 16:

Positive changes that have been made:

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which was initially an ordinance promulgated by Pranab Mukherjee on April 3, 2013, after this incident was passed and made into a legislation by the Parliament in March 2013. This legislation was formed after reviewing 80,000 recommendations that were received after wide consultations and research by the Justice Verma Committee. Several crimes like stalking, voyeurism were clearly specified and included in the list of new crimes in this legislation. Acid violence and disrobing, a common crime in India, was further elaborated on with respect to the punishment that should be given to the convict.
  • Under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, the age of consent was increased from 16 to 18.
  •  In order to ensure that victims are not hesitant in filing a complaint, the security blanket that protected public servants and police officers has been removed.
  • Stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment, which were one considered gender neutral, were changed to offence committed on women.
  •  The law also states that in case of repeated offence of rape or in case where victim has been led to a comatose stage, death penalty can be pronounced on convict. Whereas, there is also an increase in jail term. (Unlike what happened in Aruna Shanbaug case.)

    Changes that have not been made yet:
  • The Juvenile Justice Act which deals with punishment for juveniles accused of heinous crimes is still pending in Parliament.
  • Marital rape is still legal in the country.
  • While Ram Singh, a convict, died while he was being tried, the other four Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur were given death sentence by fast track court, which was upheld by Delhi Court, but the Supreme Court has stayed their death sentence.
  • Juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal, has served his detention period of three years, may be released on December 20, and Women and child development (WCD) may grant him a rehabilitation grant of Rs. 10,000. However, Subramanian Swamy, a BJP leader has filed a PIL, seeking a stay on his release.
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