Crime & Justice

Pain lingers on 10 years after the brutal Nirbhaya rape shook India

By Indira Guerrero

New Delhi, Dec. 16 (EFE).- Asha Devi and her husband Badrinath Singh have been answering calls all week. Friday marked the 10th anniversary of the brutal gang rape and murder of their 23-year-old daughter in New Delhi, which sparked mass protests in India and pushed for stricter laws against gender-based violence.

Jyoti Singh succumbed to her injuries at a hospital in Singapore two weeks after the rape due to irreparable damage to her internal organs.

Her determination in fighting for her life and divulging information about the rapists to the police led her to be nicknamed “Nirbhaya” (“No Fear”, in Hindi) by the press, especially rape victims cannot be named under Indian law.

Her death became a turning point when it came to the tolerance of such crimes in India.

Now, a decade later, her parents still live in the same house from where their daughter went out to watch a movie with a friend 10 years ago.

While on her way back, she got on the wrong bus, where she was raped and tortured by six men while the vehicle continued to run.

The struggle of these parents and the collective outrage of the people led to the modification of laws against rape. Fast-track courts were set up, and the death penalty was extended to those guilty of brutal rape such as that of the young woman.

Even then, “if we talk about these 10 years, the protection of women or the crimes against them or the justice system, nothing has changed. Nothing has improved,” Asha Devi, Nibhaya’s mother who turned into a fervent activist for changes to safeguard women, told EFE.

According to Nirbhaya’s father, “today we are in the same place we were in 2012,” a claim that seems to corroborate the data on such crimes.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 428,278 cases of crimes against women were recorded in 2021, an increase of 15.3 percent over 2020. Rape accounts for 7.4 percent of crimes.

“And if we look at the nature and the number of crimes against women, there is no difference between 2012 and 2022,” said Devi, referring to recent news headlines of young women killed – and dismembered in one case – by their partners in India.

These days “for small things, people are throwing acid on girls, or dismembering them, like if they refuse to befriend someone or give in to their advances,” underlined Devi, who sees her daughter in each victim.

“Our system is a failure,” she added.

However, the death of her daughter marked a before and after for this deeply traditional country, which embraces a patriarchal culture.

“If there has been a small change, it is in the mindset of our girls in their aspiration for justice, security and rights,” said Devi, who spent years in court to see the perpetrators of Nirbhaya’s rape sentenced to the gallows in March 2020.

Four accused in the case were sentenced to death in 2013, while a fifth accused committed suicide in prison in the same year, according to the authorities, whereas and the sixth – a minor – was released after spending three years in a reformatory. EFE


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