Umakant is a Delhi-based activist and researcher.
The brutal gang-rape and the attempted murder (she later died) of a 23 year old young woman in a moving private bus in the night on December 16, 2012 in South Delhi came as a bolt from blue and even numbed the sensitivity of every right thinking person. While recovering this numbness, the students from Jawaharlal Nehru University mustered enough courage to speak out against this barbaric act of rape and attempted murder by leading a massive protest at the Vasant Vihar Police Station on December 18, 2012 and blocked the traffic for couple of hours in Munirka in South Delhi. On not getting any reasonable and satisfactory assurance from the Police, the students continued with regular protests at India Gate, Safdarjung Hospital and even near the seats of power- the President House, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Home Affairs and so on. Women organisations, students both boys and girls from several other places joined the protests and have continued to fight pitched battles with Delhi Police. The fight with a war cry “We Want Justice” goes on. The spontaneous and largely leaderless protests in the capital city may or not continue, but it has certainly jolted the Government and the entire country. Its effectiveness further would be tasted how much pressure it is able to mount on the Government to commit to bring in measures in principles and also in practice to end violence against women.
The spontaneous protests after the brutal gang rape in Delhi has galvanised similar protest though not in the same manner at several other places in different parts of the country. However, rape cases are being reported at regular intervals from Delhi and other States. The brutality with which rape and other kinds of violence happens against women not only highlights the failure of the criminal justice administration in the country, but also testifies to the fact about moral/ethical and cultural decay and insensitivity on gender issues in the society at large. But most importantly it is also an opportunity to make an honest and sincere assessment about the status of criminal justice administration system as practiced in the country and an attempt to find out whether ending violence against women and girl child is a priority or not? Will gender equality and justice remain a hollow claim or will there be a sincere effort to make them real?