From the gang rape in a Delhi bus in December last year to the brutal rape of a five-year-old in the Capital four months later, has anything changed? Once again, people have expressed their horror, come out on the streets in large numbers and picketed outside the Prime Minister’s house.

But is this going to translate into lesser incidents of violence and more safety for women and girl children?

Ironically just a month ago, Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which provides for more stringent punishment for crimes against women, including natural life term or even death for repeat offenders of rape. It made stalking, voyeurism, disrobing and acid attacks against women punishable under criminal law.

However, by voting against life imprisonment for acid attacks as also making first-time stalking a non-bailable offence, the Lok Sabha diluted the law.

Clearly laws are not deterrence for violence against women. The last few months have seen countless cases of violence against women and children being reported from all parts of the country with justice being done in very few instances.

“It is time for a drastic change in mindsets where patriarchal values breed and women continue to be commodified, used and abused. Only gender equality can bring lasting gender justice,” says a rights defender.

The camera captures images of citizens coming out in protest against the rapes. In the photograph on the left, a little girl makes a plea for safety in Bangalore. The picture on the right, taken in Chandigarh in December, has teachers and students on a candle-march to express their angst and solidarity with the Delhi gang rape victim.

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