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Meet to sleep campaign undertaken by women on the support of the 6 year old gang rape victim

In a bid to make cities safer, the government has set up help lines and installed security cameras which was a great fail according to the rights activists. A six year old girl was raped in the state of Haryana.

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FILE - Indian women participate in a candle light vigil at a bus stop where the victim of a 2012 deadly gang rape had boarded the bus on what would become her final journey, in New Delhi, India, Dec. 16, 2014.
Indian women participate in a candle light vigil at a bus stop where the victim of a deadly gang rape in a moving bus had boarded the bus two years ago, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. The case sparked public outrage and helped make women’s safety a common topic of conversation in a country where rape is often viewed as a woman’s personal shame to bear. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
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  • A 6 year old girl was gang raped int the state of Haryana
  • The gang raped was compared to The Delhi gang rape in 2012
  • “Meet to Sleep” campaign done by women

December 16, 2017: Five years after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old physical therapy student in the Indian capital turned the focus to violence against women, small groups turned out in New Delhi and several other cities on Saturday to highlight the need for safety for women in public spaces.

The “Meet to Sleep” movement, under which women took a short nap at a park, is one of several campaigns that have emerged in the wake of massive protests that rocked India after the gang rape. The symbolic nap highlights the need for women’s safety when they are most vulnerable.

“What happened to her [the gang rape victim] happened in a very public place, in a bus, which is a mode of transportation that many women use, but remains unsafe. Five years on, not much has changed,” said 26-year-old Kriti Omprakash.

Kirti Omprakash says that public spaces are still not safe for women in the Indian capital, where a horrific gang rape in 2012 turned the spotlight on sexual violence against women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
Kirti Omprakash says that public spaces are still not safe for women in the Indian capital, where a horrific gang rape in 2012 turned the spotlight on sexual violence against women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

The gang rape victim was assaulted by six men on a bus that she boarded with her male friend in December 2012. She later died due to the injuries she sustained.

Not only do sexual attacks targeting girls and women continue to pose a challenge – such incidents actually have increased, according to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau. Delhi, considered one of India’s most unsafe cities, reported 1,996 rape cases in 2016, up from 1,893 in the previous year.

Rising voices

Women’s rights activists say the biggest change, however, is that women have become more vocal in demanding their freedom and safety and that the subject of violence is now discussed openly in a country where talk of sex crimes previously had been considered taboo.

A woman takes a symbolic nap at a park in New Delhi as part of a "Meet to Sleep" campaign initiated to highlight the need for more safety for women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
A woman takes a symbolic nap at a park in New Delhi as part of a “Meet to Sleep” campaign initiated to highlight the need for more safety for women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

“In the past five years, one of the most positive things I think is that those kind of agitations have taken teeth and grown,” said Kavita Krishnan from the All India Progressive Women’s Association.

In a bid to make cities safer, the government has set up help lines and installed security cameras, although that has failed to be a deterrent, according to rights activists. They express disappointment that despite the tightening of laws for rape and sexual harassment, crimes are still surging, sometimes against very young girls.

“We feel very, very let down by the system, by the government. The gruesomeness of crime has increased,” says Ranjana Kumari at the Center for Social Research in New Delhi. “There have been very, very young children who have been assaulted in most brutal way.”

Less than a week ago, a six-year-old girl was found murdered with grave sexual injuries in the northern state of Haryana – a case whose brutality led to comparisons with the 2012 bus gang rape.

Women activists say movements like "Meet to Sleep" have increased in the wake of the 2012 gang rape. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
Women activists say movements like “Meet to Sleep” have increased in the wake of the 2012 gang rape. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Legal efforts

The mother of the gang rape victim, Asha Devi, also expressed anguish over reporters asking, “Women and girls are still being raped, what changed? The city is as unsafe as it was five years ago.”

Activists also worry about what they feel are efforts to dilute the tough laws that were instituted after the gang rape to punish men and point to a judgment.

Earlier this year, a judge set aside the conviction of a Bollywood filmmaker for rape after ruling that a “feeble no” could indicate willingness on the part of the victim.

Kavita Krishnan stresses the need for more mobilization of the kind that was seen in the wake of the 2012 gang rape to continue to keep the focus on women’s safety and freedom.

“We cannot celebrate the 2012 movement without realizing what is happening around us right now. It has to be a continued fight. It can’t just be a ritual obeisance paid to the 2012 moment,” she said. (VOA)

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Women In India Turn To Technology To Stay Safe From Harassment

Police in many Indian cities are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints

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Women, Harassment
Women stand at a crowded place in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, Oct. 9, 2006. Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a survey Thursday. VOA

New web and phone apps in India are helping women stay safe in public spaces by making it easier for them to report harassment and get help, developers say.

Women are increasingly turning to technology to stay safe in public spaces, which in turn helps the police to map “harassment prone” spots — from dimly lit roads to bus routes and street corners.

Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey released Thursday, as improving city access for women becomes a major focus globally.

“Women always strategize on how to access public spaces, from how to dress to what mode of transport to take, timings and whether they should travel alone or in a group,” said Sameera Khan, columnist and co-author of “Why Loiter? Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets.”

#MeToo, Victim, Harassment
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The Indian minister and veteran newspaper editor announced his resignation, Oct. 17, 2018, while still insisting that the accusations of sexual harassment are false. VOA

Reported crimes up 80 percent

Indian government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016.

The fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 put the spotlight on the dangers women face in India’s public spaces.

The incident spurred Supreet Singh of charity Red Dot Foundation to create the SafeCity app that encourages women across 11 Indian cities to report harassment and flag hotspots.

“We want to bridge the gap between the ground reality of harassment in public spaces and what is actually being reported,” said Singh, a speaker at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference on Thursday.

India, Harassment
Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi. VOA

The aim is to take the spotlight off the victim and focus on the areas where crimes are committed so action can be taken.

Dimly lit lanes, crowded public transport, paths leading to community toilets, basements, parking lots and parks are places where Indian women feel most vulnerable, campaigners say.

Stigma attached to sexual harassment and an insensitive police reporting mechanism result in many cases going unreported, rights campaigners say.

Apps are promising

But apps like SafeCity, My Safetipin and Himmat (courage) promise anonymity to women reporting crimes and share data collected through the app with government agencies such as the police, municipal corporations and the transport department.

Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi
People hold placards at a rally condemning the rapes of two girls, aged 8 and 11, in Ahmedabad, India. VOA

“The data has helped in many small ways,” said Singh of the Red Dot Foundation. “From getting the police to increase patrolling in an area prone to ‘eve-teasing’ to getting authorities to increase street lighting in dark alleys, the app is bringing change.”

Also Read: Women And Girls In Poor Countries Are Using Contraceptives More: Report

Police in many Indian cities, including New Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh, are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints, promising prompt action.

“Safety apps are another such strategy that could be applied by women but I worry that by giving these apps, everyone else, most importantly the state, should not abdicate its responsibility towards public safety,” Khan said. (VOA)