Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
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Fear Over The City

How safe are our cities? If the spate of rapes that have rattled our metros are any indication, danger lurks at every corner.

Fear Over The City
Digital imaging by Shilpi Burman
Fear Over The City
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

  • It is 11 pm in South Delhi's Chirag Dilli. A Tata Indica swerves and stops a three-wheeler carrying two girls. Four men jump off, drag one of the girls out, use her cellphone to call in a larger vehicle, a Qualis, then drive around the city raping her through the night. And even as the capital reels under the shock of this horrendous assault, yet another horrific headline shows how frighteningly unsafe Delhi is for women. This time, a mob of men take turns raping a Law Faculty student as they drive around the Delhi University campus. They'd pulled her into their Esteem at 5.30 pm. Later, when the victim lodges a complaint with the police, she reveals she'd been gang-raped earlier, on April 8 last year, but didn't have enough courage to report the crime.

  • In Mumbai, on Independence Day eve, a drunk boards a local train late at night and rapes a 12-year-old mentally-challenged urchin in full public view. Five men and a couple are present, but do not intervene. The girl screams helplessly, but this moves only one of the commuters to make a weak attempt at stopping the rape. But he too gives up after the unarmed and inebriated rapist threatens to throw him off the train. It is only after the perpetrator gets off the train that he is nabbed by the police. The commuters finally come forward, to lodge a complaint about a rape they did not stop. But Mumbai is to be disgraced some more. Forty-eight hours later, a 19-year-old girl is gang-raped in her own shanty in suburban Mumbra. Her husband and infant son are with her, when ten men barge into her house in the morning. Herding out her husband at knife-point, they rape her repeatedly. The men later tell the police that they had been drinking at a local beer bar and "decided to rape a woman...any woman from the locality would do."

There's no generalising the victim profile in our cities—it could be anyone. Of the 473 reported cases of rape in Delhi alone in 2000, the maximum number of victims (165) were in the 11 to 15 age group. But then, just this week, an octogenarian was raped by her 19-year-old grandson's friend in the capital's Sangam Vihar area. The victim doesn't always have to be young or unknown to the perpetrator. A junior doctor of Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi, was raped by her friend on August 9 when she went over to his flat for a nightcap after a movie together. Perpetrators of sexual violence seem to attack any woman or child with impunity. Encouraged, perhaps, by growing bystander apathy in our cities.

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