Delhi rape spreads fear, women demand death for rapists

Hang the rapists or punish them in public - was the most common refrain among women in the national capital as the horror of the 23-year-old woman gang-raped by seven men in a moving bus stunned the nation.

Many women said the incident has spread fear and a feeling that women are not safe even if they have a male companion.  "It is really shocking and scary for people, especially who stay alone. I am a student, I stay here with my friends. My parents are also very scared to leave me alone in the city after such rape cases," says Surbhi Dudeja, a first-year student at Delhi university.

"I think the best way to teach them (the accused) a lesson is to hang them so that no one in the future could ever dare it again," she said. Shweta Arya, 31, who works as a relationship manager with a finance consultancy, says she has to move a lot for her work and though she drives her own car, the incident has left her scared.

"My office is in Noida, but I have to move to different parts of Delhi for my work. Of course, women always have some sense of fear, like I usually avoid driving alone too late in the night, but now I feel even more afraid," she says.

"I don't know...keeping in mind that the conviction rate in our country is so low... I think such accused should be punished at a public platform. Either they should be hanged at a public place or they should be pelted stones by people. I know it is extreme, but I don't know what is the solution for women who live alone in the city," Arya added.

A research scholar at Delhi University, Divya Khurana says the worst part is that the case confirms women are not safe even in male company. "We are often late at our work, and the best assurance I had so far was a male co-student who would be helpful and accompany us... now perhaps all women need to think again," she said.

"Who will come and assure our parents that we are safe, that we should be allowed to lead normal lives?" she asks. Twenty-nine-year-old Megha, who works with a private company in Gurgaon, says her parents are already insisting she quit her job as it requires her to stay in office till 8 p.m.

"Its not really late at 8 p.m., but when such incidents happen, parents get worried. Though I live with my parents I have to commute alone, now they are insisting I quit my job and work somewhere close to home. But that is not possible," says Megha.

"Their concerns cannot be shrugged off, but it is so unfair that I compromise with my career because I am a woman," she said, visibly angry. Protests have been taking place all across the city, both women and men outraged over the incident. However, fear seems to be dominant, with many admitting they would now be afraid to venture out on Delhi roads at night, at least for a while.

"I work for the media and travel late hours for work. I go to Noida and Gurgaon too sometimes for my work. After this incident, more than scared I am shocked as to how can people be so barbaric," said Madhurima Mishra, a media professional. The angry woman demanded capital punishment for the criminals.

"The accused should be hanged in public and before that punished rigorously so that everyone will learn to respect each other and help each other," she demanded. Charu Sethi, a housewife and a mother of a two-year-old son,  said not only women but men are also scared because of the poor law and order situation in the city.

"I will relate a small incident which will explain how the entire city or country is scared. Last evening when I was traveling in an auto, two people on a bike asked the auto driver for some direction and after getting the directions the rider asked whether it is safe to go there or not..." Sethi said.

"This shows that not only women but also men are scared after such a heinous crime and I guess this says it all that Delhi people are traumatised."  "A stern message has to be given to the culprits. Otherwise such people with criminal mind will continue to commit crime with impunity," Sethi said.

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