By Harsha Mishra
Youth Journalism International
DELHI, India – A year after the brutal gang rape of a medical student aboard a bus in Delhi, young people interviewed there said the city still bears the stigma of the horrific crime.
“Delhi had been not just the capital of India,” said Puneet Kapoor, a 22-year-old student at the JSS Academy of Technical Education in nearby Noida. “It is also the rape capital of India.”
On December 16, 2012, six men assaulted the young student as she tried to go home after a movie. The men first severely beat her companion, then took turns raping her, assaulting her with an iron rod and tearing out her intestines.
After the assault, the attackers, including a teenage juvenile, tossed both victims onto the road and left them to die. The woman died days later in a Singapore hospital; her friend survived.
Chandni Rastogi, 22, a student at the IIMT college of Engineering, Greater Noida, said the juvenile attacker should face the same punishment as the others.
“According to me, there is no age bar for punishment or crime,” said Rastogi. “A person, who has the knowledge of raping a girl, or who knows that using a rod would lead to which kind of injuries, should not be kept in the category of being a minor when it comes to giving the punishment for such a hideous crime.”
Rastogi said it isn’t fair that the juvenile attacker is treated better than innocent Indian children who don’t get the opportunities he does in confinement.
“The major problem is with the Indian system for providing justice,” Rastogi said. “The minor involved in this crime is getting all those facilities which normal illiterate children of India are unable to receive, though they deserve them and are the innocent one, not him. He gets to learn to cook, to write and read, he gets medical facilities and now he wants to forget that particular night of his life. Why should he? When the parents of that girl cannot do that, he has no right to forget that night.”
Rastogi said all the assailants should be punished severely and equally.
Kapoor said there were many cases of rape before what he called the “monstrosity” - last year’s gang rape on the bus - and said many went unreported.
“Due to many reasons, one year after this case, I still see no difference in the scenario as rapes continue to take place at large,” Kapoor said.
Shivam Verma, a 21-year-old student at Jaypee Institute in Noida, decried the rape culture in India that trivializes, tolerates or even condones violence against women.
Verma said much needs to be done to make women feel safe in the country. Little progress, he said, has been made in addressing the attitudes that legitimize violence and discrimination against women.
Ananya, a 21-year-old student at Jaypee institute who uses a single name, said that what is seen in the larger cities is not the true picture.
To bring real change, Ananya said, it’s imperative to empower all women, most of whom are still financially and emotionally dependent on their male relatives.
Women can barely raise their heads or voice in most households, she said, adding that literacy is key to change because most women don’t even know their rights.
Verma said all citizens need to be educated about the rights women have under the law. Gender sensitivity should be developed at the grassroots level in schools, colleges and workplaces, Verma said, to develop a society underpinned by respect and equality.
Kunwar Sandhu, 21, a student at the JSS Academy of Technical Education, said the atrocious rape case last year brought the viciousness of the system to light.
“There was an outrage of opinions and chaos of disgust that enveloped us,” Sandhu said, for the majority of the year, with new cases continually arising.
The assailants in the infamous gang rape are still alive, Kapoor said, “based on technicalities like juvenile laws and human rights laws.”
He said strict laws must be put in place or rapists will escape punishment.
“Stringent and inhuman punishments is the only cure for such inhuman acts,” Kapoor said.