Protestors once again gathered in large numbers at Jantar Mantar and other parts of the Capital on Wednesday demanding women’s right to “access public spaces with safety and autonomy in their private lives without fear of violence”. With the day marking completion of one month after the horrific gang-rape of the 23-year-old, the Capital was abuzz with peaceful protests, alleging that the agencies were “dragging their feet” in ensuring speedy justice to the gang-rape victim.
While addressing the protestors at Jantar Mantar, which has been the epicentre of the protests, Anna Hazare’s aide Kiran Bedi said: “It is a historic opportunity to make right demands from the Government. Our priority should be to get the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee implemented because in all likelihood the recommendations will be in the favour of the demands being expressed through protests.”
She also emphasised the need for parents across the country to “make their boys responsible and train their girls to become more brave and courageous”. She also highlighted the urgent need for social auditing of police stations and local courts. “Only after auditing these two institutions can we get to know the delay in justice delivery system. The delay in ensuring justice to survivors needs to be exposed and audited,” she added.
During a vigil at Delhi University, Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover highlighted the importance of the one month of continuing struggle. She said she was not surprised at the “the processes of extending and restoring justice in this gang-rape case”: “What is new here,” she added, “is the continuation of this struggle for complete freedom from sexual violence since last one month and assertion of those demands that were continuously being raised by civil society.”
Voicing the demands, Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association said: “We want the Government to ensure gender-just protocols for filing FIRs and police investigation of crimes against women, establish more courts and faster trials for sexual violence cases, massive expansion of safe public transport for women and review and fast-track more than one lakh pending sexual violence cases in the country.”
An entire month of public outrage against cases of violence against women has also inspired and encouraged other rape survivors to come out in public seeking justice. One of them is a 30-year-old rape survivor from Punjab who has been on hunger strike at Jantar Mantar since Monday. She suffered the horror at the hands of a State Police officer in 2010. After months of running from pillar to post and facing extreme apathy from agencies, she had “almost lost the hope for justice”.
“Had it not been for the protests I would not have gathered the courage to fight. When I saw how the entire nation is expressing outrage against cases of sexual violence, I decided that I stand a chance to get justice. I have started my satyagrah to get the culprits punished,” she said.
She has written to the National Human Rights Commission and the Prime Ministers’ Office informing them about the rape after which the NHRC, as she claimed, also ordered the Punjab Police to register an FIR. “But my tormentor is a son of a senior police officer in Punjab which is why the administration has been keeping a mum on my issue,” she added, adjusting herself on the mattress in the middle of the road just next to the makeshift memorial erected for the gang-rape victim. “I won’t go to Punjab unless I get justice.”