The number of rape cases in New Delhi alone is horrific. There is the case of a XII standard girl who is abducted and raped, a minor rape victim who immolates herself, the attempted rape of a 11 standard girl alone at home just to mention a few. According to statistics there were 572 rapes in 2011 alone, followed by 706 rapes in 2012 reflecting a 23 % rise against 2011 while between January and February 15th 2013 in total 181 rape cases were reported reflecting about 4 rapes a day.
A first conviction and a sentence of a 60 year old school guard for a sexual offense has been announced. That is a good start. But the authorities need to bear in mind that establishing the acquaintanceship between the victim and the rapist in no way reduces the tangibility of rape as a crime. Poor forensic track records are a clear indication that one of the first issues that the law and order authorities need to address is the introduction, use and implementation of modern forensic tools and methods in their investigations. Legal and policing reforms are absolutely necessary if the situation is to be tackled.
The Indian commission set up to review the status of sex crimes in India has submitted its report in record time. The recommendations range from better implementation of existing laws, sensitizing the population to gender issues and more severe legal sentences. However the biggest challenge for all social organisations will be trying to change antiquated patriarchal attitudes which legitimize violence and injustice against woman.
Will India consequently implement the recommendations of the commission? Will the citizens of the country wake up to this call for social change or forget it and return to their trudge through life based on antiquated customs and habits which have little relevance to the 21st century.
The initial reactions are promising. The massive demonstrations in Delhi and the resonance to the one billion rising campaign which was organised worldwide on 14th February are starting points. Two other examples are the reaction of the Shri Ram school in New Delhi or Anoushka Shankar’s (daughter of Ravi Shankar) appeal to many to join the campaign.