NEW DELHI — Many ambitious announcements and pledges were made by the Indian authorities after the gruesome fatal gang rape of a young paramedical student in a moving bus in December 2012 that rocked the nation. Unfortunately, they have largely remained on paper.
The government passed a tough anti-rape law, and last year, and the Supreme Court banned the sale of acid at retail stores to deter acid attacks on women. But promises of equipping public transport buses with GPS devices, setting up more forensic labs, appointing more female police officers, better street lighting and more police patrol cars have not been implemented.
Earlier this month, allegations of that an Uber driver raped a female passenger renewed concerns about the city’s continuing inability to ensure women’s safety.
But some things have changed. Public tolerance for sexual assault on women and victim-blaming is at its lowest in a long time. Public debate has expanded to include workplace sexual harassment and marital rape as well.
On the second anniversary of the killing of Jyoti Singh Pandey, here are some voices from demonstrations held in New Delhi's Jantar Mantar neighborhood, where many spoke about what needs to be done to improve women's safety in India.
Name: Kavita Krishnan, 41
Occupation: Campaigner against violence against women
"Rape does not exist in a vacuum, it is not an aberration. There's a matrix of social and economic violence in which rape survives. We have to also tackle moral policing, violence inside homes and systematic assaults on women's autonomy."
Name: Suneeta Dhar, 59
Occupation: Heads Jagori, a nonprofit group for women
"We are conducting a safety audit today using an app called SafetyPin on four routes. "There's talk about increasing surveillance with cameras and drones. But we must invest in confidence-building public infrastructure which is based on people's behavior."
Name: Khyati Bansal, 16
Occupation: High school student and street-play actor
"We need to stop waiting for the government to ensure women's safety. Change begins in our minds, our way of thinking. Imparting right moral values in homes and schools is key."
Name: Prashant Mukherjee, 22
Occupation: College student
"We have been enacting plays about women's safety inside buses all year. It would help if education about gender equality begins in 5th grade in schools. That's when patriarchal attitudes begin to be formed."
Name: Kamla Devi, 59
"Teach the sons how to respect women. It's the parents' responsibility. It begins at home."
Name: Ekta Oza, 27
Occupation: Gender awareness trainer
"We must make our police gender-sensitive in how they speak to rape survivors."
Name: Sonali Thakur, 20
Occupation: College student
"Hang the rapists till death, create fear."
Name: Ritu Saa, 19
Occupation: Student and acid-attack survivor
"Implement the ban on acid sale strictly. This will make women safe."
Name: Navneet Sharma, 22
Occupation: Call center employee.
"I am crowd sourcing suggestions for women's safety online and through suggestion counters like this one."