Trigger Warning: Content may contain parts that can trigger trauma response or could be inappropriate for younger audiences
This year, we missed participating in United Nations 16 Days of Activism campaign – a global call to speak up and condemn violence against women as the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide. The campaign runs from November 25, for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Today, on December 16, to reiterate our support by honoring survivors and victims of sexual assault and rape. On the eight anniversary of the brutal rape and assault that the Supreme Court of India declared to have “shook a nation’s conscience”, we honor the courage and memory of Jyoti Singh aka Nirbhaya (meaning fearless).
Jyoti succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012 but only after leaving a lasting impact on the public conscience and opinion (SEE BELOW: DELHI CRIME WINS EMMY) on the need for a reformed punitive and preventive response to sexual assault and crimes against women. Eight years after Nirbhaya, statistics show that incidents of rape and sexual assault crimes have not really declined. In 2019, India recorded an average of 87 rape cases daily and overall 4,05,861 cases of crime against women during the year — a rise of over 7% from 2018. | source: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2019 report. The NCRB is tasked with collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code and special and local laws in the country. | Some make the headlines, some don’t. Child rape cases (the ones reported under the Indian Penal Code, that is) continue to make headlines like the shameful Kathua case in 2013 and many others in the following years. Victims from marginalized and minority communities continue to have to fight additional barriers to justice. Case in point, the more recent Hathras gangrape (SEE BELOW: HATHRAS BALRAMPUR GANG RAPE 2020), which ironically happened right at the time the NCRB 2019 report was released in September 2020. It could be said though that Nirbhaya, changed the administration machinery’s public response to rapes and crimes against women – at least marginally – with reforms in speeding reporting of sexual assault crimes for victims, additional police protection etc. Yet, in 2019, the extrajudicial execution of the four prime suspects in the gang rape case in Hyderabad, divided the nation yet again on whether retributive justice (capital punishment) leads to “closure” or actually works towards eradicating the crime.
Rape culture and assault rates cannot be eliminated overnight but it will take years of tectonic shifts in collective cultural mindsets and conditioning.
Asking to remember Nirbhaya (meaning fearless) today is an attempt to ensure that her undeterred courage in demanding justice while fighting for her life is memorialized in the hope of a better future for healing and justice for survivors of sexual assault and crime.
‘Delhi Crime’, a seven-part Netflix Original Series created by Richie Mehta, is a partially-fictionalized dramatization of the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gangrape case in terms of how it shook an entire nation, urging a rapid government response to address unprecedented public outrage. The story unfolds through the desperate and swift investigation undertaken by the Delhi Police and is narrated through brilliant performances from the main characters – DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, newly commissioned police officer Neeti Singh and veteran cop Bhupender Singh, whose relentless pursuance was critical in nabbing the suspects and bringing them to justice in five days. The series won the 48th International Emmy Awards in November 2020 and is the first Indian television series to have ever won an Emmy.
Read a review by our community liaison:
Netflix’s Delhi Crime is the retelling of the notorious Nirbhaya case of New Delhi. In 2012, a 23-year-old medical school student who was out with a male friend was brutally attacked by six men on a moving bus. This series was written and directed by Richie Mehta and premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film festival.
The show opens with an on-duty officer, Ram Pratam, who discovers the body of Deepika and Akash. According to Akash, the two were robbed and beaten by several men. Then, they sexually and violently assaulted Deepika. Pratam quickly rushed the two to a nearby hospital where doctors immediately started treating Deepika due to her life-threatening injuries.
DCP Vartika Chaturvedi is quickly informed about the case. When she arrives at the hospital, she realizes this case is not like any other case that she dealt with in her career. Vartika wants Delhi to be a safe place for all including her daughter Chandi, who want to move to Canada. So she makes a team of her most trusted officials track down the perpetrators.
As the desperate search begins, the team is able to locate the bus where the crime took place. At the same time, they were able to track down the first perpetrator (Jai Singh). During the interrogation, Jai Singh reveals the gory details of the crime, as well as information about the other five men. The team was able to track down all six perpetrators in just five days.
Delhi Crime is not your average crime show. The series focuses less on the actual incident and focuses more on the police operations that were used to capture the criminals. The investigation is very straightforward so that everyone can understand. Even if you do not know about this incident. Delhi Crime was not explicit on what happened but you certainly hear about the details on numerous occasions.
Written by Bedaura Haseen, Community Liaison, Raksha Inc.
Raksha, Inc., is deeply grieving the loss of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was gang-raped by four men in Harthras, Uttar Pradesh, India. This is an unfortunate event and has received wide media attention, not just in India, but around the world. The four men were arrested and charged with murder, rape, and violation of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 of India.
Weeks later, in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, India, there was another gang rape of a 22-year-old Dalit woman who was raped by two men. The two men were arrested for alleged murder and rape.
The Hathras rape case was followed by numerous protests throughout India and even in the U.S. The United Nations in India expressed concern over gender-based violence and stated “it is essential that authorities ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily and families are empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counseling, healthcare, and rehabilitation.”
Rape is a heinous crime that leaves tremendous and often indelible impact on victims. This trauma is worsened for victims from South Asian communities who are often questioned and shamed by the community. In some sub cultures, rape is also an acceptable honor crime to uphold family reptutation or an appropriate punishment for unrelated crimes commited by the victim’s family member. We need to support victims, believe them and fight against rape culture. We are sending all our condolences and prayers to all the family members of these crimes and hope to see justice for both Dalit women.
Contributed by Bedaura Haseen