In a manifestation of public anger over the gang-rape of a young woman in a Delhi bus, the Capital on Wednesday saw a wave of protests by university students, civil society groups and women’s organisations.
Three Members of Parliament -- Jaya Bachchan, T.N. Seema, and Jharna Das Baidya -- participated in a protest outside Delhi Police Headquarters demanding a public apology from the Police Commissioner for police inefficiency and inability to prevent crimes against women.
During a march outside the residence of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the protesters targeted her for her “shameful” attitude on crimes against women, demanding her resignation. The police used water canons to disperse the protesters who included students of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia and women from Delhi’s slum clusters.
Asking the governments, police and judiciary to defend and safeguard women’s “unqualified freedom and right to live without fear of violence, in the home or the street; day or night; irrespective of what they wear or do”, the protesters demanded that a comprehensive law on sexual assault be immediately enacted.
Shweta, an activist of the All-India Students’ Association, said the Delhi Police’s advertisement campaign against violence on women features no women and rather, it features a male actor, urging men to ‘be a man’ and ‘protect women’.
Addressing the protestors, activist Kavita Krishnan said the widespread and growing incidents of rape in Delhi were motivated by the patriarchal urge to “teach women a lesson” for seeking equality and dignity and for asserting their freedom.
In the memorandum submitted to the Delhi Police Commissioner, the protesters outside the police headquarters demanded increased patrolling and deployment of police including police women in public places, fast-track courts to deal with rape cases, increased sensitisation and effective investigation and accountability of the police in dealing with heinous crimes against women.
In another protest at India Gate, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union expressed it solidarity with the rape victim and demanded speedy justice to her. In the memorandum to the Union Home Minster, the Chief Minister and the Delhi Police Commissioner, they demanded that the rate of registration of the First Information Report in cases of crime against women be drastically improved.
“As per the Delhi police Annual Report 2010 only 11.08 per cent of all the complaints received by the Crimes Against Women’s Cell in Delhi were converted into FIRs. In the same manner, the conviction rate in crimes against women in the country has fallen from meagre 27.08 per cent in 2010 to 26.9 per cent in 2011. This criminal apathy is responsible for the confidence enjoyed by the criminals in the State,” said the memorandum which demanded introduction of compulsory courses on gender sensitivity in the police training module.
A large number of workers of the Delhi BJP Pradesh Mahila Morcha and Yuva Morcha staged demonstration at Jantar Mantar demanding death punishment to the persons who committed gang-rape.