Horrific as it was, the never-to-be-forgotten Nirbhaya case was supposed to change something for both the women and men — a watershed moment; an awakening of sorts. The men would be circumspect, one hoped. The responsive echo in every heart would pave the way for women safety. But women are emotional beings, they hope too much. Crime against women is only increasing in volume and horror alike, unclasping newer spirals of violence. To add to a woman’s distress, it is no longer even about ‘safe’ cities, clothing or time. She is as vulnerable in the back of beyond of UP as she is in broad daylight on the university campus in Chandigarh, a city considered as ‘considerably safe’.
At 7.30 am on the wintry morning of December 9, a walk turned into terror for a woman who fought off her molester for 15 long minutes in the botanical garden of Panjab University. Her screams should have made him flee, for there may have been more walkers in the vicinity. But he was unafraid. If she was not raped, and is safe, it is only because of her own nerve. The same morning, a 19-year-old was molested in a forest area near Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. The university has now put restrictions on movement in the garden from 9 am to 5 pm. What is the premise to believe that what occurred at 7.30 am would not recur at 9 am? In line with it, why not extend Kejriwal’s odd-even scheme to men-women, too? Public places, without doubt, should be safe zones, with adequate fencing, lighting and CCTV cameras. It was CCTV footage from near a toll plaza that helped identify the accused in the Hyderabad rape and murder case.
Within days of the gruesome case, a rape victim was set ablaze in Unnao, UP, and another became a victim of acid attack. The whys and wherefores are irrelevant. The frequency of such crimes gives rise to unpleasant reflections. Women never really believed, and believe still less now, that their safety can be the State’s priority. Until that changes, she is in it alone; her safety is her business. She will have to keep looking over her shoulder as the horror continues.
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