'No strong-enough deterrent for rapists, yet'

'No strong-enough deterrent for rapists, yet'

Two years have passed, still there is no strong-enough deterrent for rapists in the city, said the mother of the December 16 gang-rape victim, regretting that the Supreme Court stayed the hanging of her daughter’s killers.

“The rapists are alive despite outrage and public protests across the country. It is a matter of concern. The execution of the death penalty in my daughter's case would have set a good deterrent but we are still awaiting justice,” she told Deccan Herald on the eve of the second anniversary of her daughter's brutal gang-rape in a moving bus in December 2012. The four convicts are still in Tihar Jail, while their appeal against the conviction is being heard in Supreme Court. The death penalty was put on hold following two petitions filed in March and June.

The victim’s mother agreed that the incident spurred widespread public discussion of crimes against women, but said the legal system remains slow to hear and prosecute cases. “There is absolutely no change in the rape culture and brutality. It is the reason why a Uber cab driver accused of rape mentioned my daughter’s case to subdue the victim. He was not afraid of punishment by the legal system. The problem still prevails in our society and the incidents of rape and harassment of women will continue to increase,” she added.

The victim's father said the family was proud of the courage shown by their daughter, which they believe spurred more women to speak out instead of hiding the crimes committed against them. “Statistics show that there has been an improvement in the number of women willing to file a crime report,” he said. He noted that the outpouring of anger and grief had given rise to hopes for change, but the legal system has not responded despite the passage of several new laws. “We still hear incidents of minor girls being raped. Such scenario would not change unless those accused are punished. If my daughter’s case can’t change the system, nothing will. The men attacking women would not step back unless they fear death and those guilty get death,” he said.

On March 13, the Delhi High Court had found Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur guilty of rape, murder, unnatural offences and destruction of evidence. With the verdict, the court had confirmed the death sentence pronounced by Saket court in September 2013. However, on March 15, the Supreme Court stayed the execution of Mukesh and Pawan, while Vinay and Akshay’s execution was stayed on July 14.

To pay homage to the victim, her family has organised a prayer meeting at Rajendra Bhawan in central Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg on Tuesday. It will be attended by Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Meira Kumar. Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani excused herself from the event late Monday.

A candlelight march towards India Gate by students of DU and JNU was not allowed by Delhi Police on Monday. “A humble attempt to honour and remember the brave-heart was made at Jantar Mantar,” said National Students' Union of India (NSUI) spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey. The programme was attended by the victim’s father and Congress leaders Oscar Fernandes and Jagdish Tytler.

Events in memory of the victim will be held by women's organisations on Tuesday. NSUI will organise a candlelight march at the bus stand in south Delhi where the woman and her male friend boarded the bus in which the rape and violence took place.

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