Free transport doesn't translate to women's safety in Delhi. As Nirbhaya's mother, I know this
Delhi govt proposes giving free rides to women in DTC buses and the Delhi Metro. Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi chief minister, says this will help the safety of women. I disagree, says Asha Devi.
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I heard the recent announcement from the Delhi authorities with surprise. How can free rides ensure the safety of women in buses and metros? This is not right — in my view, the government should live up to their promise and ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in buses and each bus should have a woman cop — not all this jumla. By ensuring that rides are free, will all atrocities against women stop? I don't think so.
The government only preaches that they will do this and that — but, in reality, in my view, no concrete steps have been taken for the safety of women. Not even after what happened to my daughter in 2012. It pains me so deeply to say this.
Pleading for change: Asha Devi, Nirbhaya's mother, says even after her daughter's case which shocked the world, little has moved. (Photo: PTI)
There are multiple levels where the safety of women is broken even today. Officials are still not sensitised on how to even deal with rape cases. The police should be stringent; the local administration should be sensitive towards issues related to rape. This is not the case. Socially too, things remains as backward. Today too, if any such incident takes place, the first thing which people ask the girl's parents is — what was your daughter doing? Why don’t they ever ask the boy who was with the girl the same question?
No one asks their family or the victim what they have gone through.
In court, I was asked where my daughter used to go — this, when she did not even stay in Delhi. She had come here for her break as she was studying in Dehradun and had given her exams in the first week of December. I wish she had not come here.
And even since that night of December 16, 2012, nothing has changed in this place. When this incident took place, all political parties said we will make this law, we will put that security, we will ensure rapists and those who trouble women are dealt with harshly. But what has happened today? After nearly seven years, we are worse off than in 2012. Girls don’t feel safe to leave their place beyond 8 PM, every second day, rapes are taking place, women are teased, harassed and molested — no, girls are not safe in Delhi.
Not even after what happened to my daughter.
They don't need free rides: They need more street lights. More CCTVs. And more cops. (Photo: India Today)
There are other disappointments. Days after that incident, a committee, headed by Justice JS Verma, was set up to review our criminal laws and recommend amendments to them. The committee submitted its 600-page report — but not everything was accepted, including some laws that really should have been, such as criminalising marital rape. Whatever laws were made, amendments were done, but in reality, nothing happened.
The laws are still lying only paper — they haven’t moved.
In the last seven years, I have never heard of any rapist being hanged.
I am upset with our judicial system.
In our case, it is as if time has stood still. We live in a vaccum of sorts. No one has ever spoken to us since about how we are, if we need anything or not. Me and my family go to each hearing, thinking that we’ll get justice today, but that doesn’t happen. No one says that they have committed a crime and they should be hanged to death. Whenever we go to court, the worst part is that we have to hear about the rights of those who have been accused.
That is how we still treat such cases.
Even Nirbhaya's case.
Politicians remain unbothered about truly fixing the system at all the levels I have mentioned. They also treat such incidents with callousness.
One politician who did come forward to help our family was Rahul Gandhi.
Walking the Talk: Rahul Gandhi supported Nirbhaya's family. But can he push for systemic change? (Photo: PTI)
He supported both our kids. One went on to become a pilot and the other is completing his graduation. He even guided my sons on what they should become and ensured they get the right education.
But that won't ever come near filling the gap my daughter left.
I don't want even one more parent to have to bear this gap in their lives. And I don't think free rides for women is the way to prevent that.
(As told to Rohit E David)