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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Unsafe for women: Gurgaon-Manesar gang rape shows little has changed since Nirbhaya (The Times of India - 8 June 2017)

     The horrific gang rape of a 19-year-old woman by three men, who also murdered her eight-month-old baby in Haryana’s Gurgaon-Manesar area, once again highlights the utter lack of safety for women. The survivor was attacked when she, along with her baby, was on her way to her in-laws’ place in a shared autorickshaw. The driver and two co-passengers raped her at a deserted plot and threw her baby on to a concrete median verge. Even though almost five years have passed since the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case which shook the conscience of the country and compelled lawmakers to pass tougher laws against sexual crimes, the Gurgaon-Manesar incident shows little has changed on the ground.

     This appears to be particularly true of Haryana where reports of gang rapes in Murthal during the Jat quota agitation last year had shocked the public. Initially, the Haryana government was reluctant to even acknowledge the gang rapes but later backtracked. More recently, investigation into the brutal gang rape and murder of a woman in Haryana’s Rohtak revealed that the police had ignored complaints made against the main accused months before the crime. In the Gurgaon-Manesar incident, police would not file a rape case in the first instance and allegedly told the survivor they were too busy with the President’s visit.

     All of this highlights a clear failure of basic law and order. Unless this is remedied, simply enacting stringent laws will not suffice. Add to this India’s noxious VIP culture, prioritising security for politicians but not the common man. Authorities like to quip that mindsets need to change to eradicate heinous sexual crimes. This is a copout. Ensure proper policing and high rates of conviction, and the rest will follow.

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