In its landmark judgment, Supreme Court on Friday upheld death penalty awarded by the High Court to four convicts involved in the December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya gangrape case. The decision was applauded by the people in the court. Reacting to the judgment, Nirbhaya’s mother said although she was happy with it, crime related to women are still happening across the country. Pointing out the delay in the court cases, she said that pronouncement of the judgment years after the actual crime is committed, promotes fearlessness in criminals. Wasn’t she true? Aren’t rape, sexual abuse, violence against women still happening in India? Will Nirbhaya’s case verdict end ‘crimes’ against women in our country? It might not, but doesn’t it make us feel a bit secure? Despite pendency of cases, the Supreme Court was quicker in delivering the verdict in the Nirbhaya rape case. In a report by National Crime Records Bureau in India, 34,651 rape cases were reported in India in the year 2015. Out of the total, 33,098 cases offenders were known to the victims. Total cases of sexual offences were reported to be 1310195 and crimes against women as 327394.
From removing curtains from buses and autos to deploying squads, state governments have tried to improve women safety. Rising concern for women security could also be seen in the ‘Anti-Romeo’ squad of Uttar Pradesh. Detaching it from all the politics, Uttar Pradesh, where cases of ‘eve teasing’ and ‘sexual abuse’ are rising, ‘Anti-Romeo’ squad was much needed. In another report by National Crime Records Bureau in India, Uttar Pradesh had reported highest cases of violent crimes (40,613 cases) in 2015, followed by Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal. In 2015, Uttar Pradesh alone reported 35,527 total crimes against women. While the ‘Anti-Romeo squad’ was the need of the hour, it remains to be seen whether the squads can identify the real culprits and check crimes against girls and women.
Maternity leave was another push towards equality and safety of women in India. Under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament, a working woman is entitled to get paid maternity leave of 26 weeks. The bill by the parliament was welcomed by women, who felt that it created a work-life balance for them. Getting back to the court judgment, Nirbhaya rape had shocked the ‘collective conscience’ of the nation. What made Nirbhaya rape case different was the unity with which people took to streets. More than news, it was an emotional jolt for the nation. With such stern judgment, the apex court has not only revived the trust of the entire nation but has also spread fear among potential culprits. For many people, Nirbhaya’s soul found peace yesterday.