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10 years after Delhi gang rape and murder, fear remains

10 years after Delhi gang rape and murder, fear remains

10 years after Delhi gang rape and murder, fear remains

10 years after Delhi gang rape and murder, fear remains

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  • Ten years ago, the gang rape and murder of a young lady on a Delhi bus shocked the globe.
  • Girl was savagely attacked, tortured with an iron rod, and thrown on the highway.
  • She survived long enough to identify her perpetrators.
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Ten years ago, the gang rape and murder of a young lady on a Delhi bus shocked the globe and highlighted sexual violence in India.

On December 16, 2012, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh and a male buddy boarded a bus.

Singh was savagely attacked, tortured with an iron rod, and thrown on the highway. She survived long enough to identify her perpetrators, receiving the epithet “Nirbhaya” – “fearless.”

The student died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.

Massive protests led officials to promise to protect women. Four of the six attackers, one of whom died in custody, were hung in 2020.

Many women are still afraid to travel at night in India’s capital, a 20-million-person city.

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AFP interviews the victim’s mother, the chief police investigator, an activist, and a commuter.

Mom

Asha Devi, Singh’s mother, told AFP, “The pain remains.”

In her two-bedroom Delhi house, she added, “She was in so much pain for 12 to 13 days.”

“How can a person accomplish this? My daughter couldn’t breathe.”

Since the incident, Devi has campaigned for women’s safety, counseling survivors’ families, and fighting for justice.

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The 57-year-old sits next to a glass case full with memories of their daughter and trophies for their efforts.

“My daughter’s pain gave me strength,” she remarked.

The case resulted to harsher rapist sentencing, more CCTV cameras and street lighting, and bus safety marshals.

Rape survivors now have legal and medical aid centers.

Devi claimed sexual assaults are too rampant and “nothing has changed” in pursuing justice.

“If something happens, the parents or the girl are blamed. No one doubts the boy’s error. Why was the girl out late?

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“So many awful examples remain,” stated Devi. “No one fears the law,”

India registered 31,677 rape incidents in 2018, an average of 86 per day — a 13% rise from 2020.

In patriarchal societies, dowries make daughters a burden.

Problems are worse in rural areas, where 70% of Indians dwell.

Girls who wear jeans, use cellphones, or have boyfriends are considered as sexually permissive. Lower-caste girls and women face risk.

“Society and families must change so daughters are seen as daughters, not burdens,” added Devi.

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Policeman

Singh was interrogated in her hospital bed by the case’s female lead investigator.

Chhaya Sharma, 50, says, “She knew she was hurt and had a limited time to live.”

“Don’t spare them,” Singh’s attackers told her.

“Despite her suffering and trauma, she was incredibly confident,” added Sharma.

She was determined to catch them.

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The policewoman, now a joint commissioner in Delhi’s eastern district, hugged her mother and swore to seek her justice.

Rapists and victims are often acquainted. This is “a needle in a haystack.”

“We had to pick the right bus from 370,” Sharma told AFP. “We walked a narrow rope”

The perpetrators displayed no remorse, according to Sharma.

“They did it without feeling. It was sick.

The case constituted a watershed, she claimed, asserting Delhi is not a “rape capital.”

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Sexual violence remains a serious concern, and women must take safeguards, she said.

Sharma’s college-aged daughter “knows what to do” to stay safe.

Yogita Bhayana, a PARI activist, hoped 2012 would improve women’s safety.

Bhayana told AFP he feared Nirbhaya would be his last case.

“But regrettably, we kept getting cases, and (legal) procedures were slow. Even today, our helpline gets 5-6 such cases a day, she said.

Pedestrian

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The 19-year-old student’s name is Lashita. After nightfall, she takes the women-only carriage home from central Delhi on the metro.

“In the metro, groping is the new ‘good afternoon,'” she told AFP. “Men won’t stop,” she warned.

“My parents worry about safety when I travel late,” she remarked.

“Perhaps I’m deluded to think nothing horrible could happen to me, but everyone must be wary.”

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