Have things really changed in India since that earth-shattering Nirbhaya incident on the cold night of 2012? Perhaps, not much. We see and hear hollow sympathies for victims who find themselves at the receiving end of this male-dominated society. Even with the claims that things are changing for the better the truth still remains that "ultimately, women have the biggest responsibility to protect themselves against all odds."
And it seems women too have realized this. Hence, there has been a significant change in attitude.
Last November, two girl students travelling to their school in a bus in Haryana rose against three male sexual predators. After repeatedly asking the men not to harass them, the duo physically retaliated against the culprits. The scene of the two girls kicking and beating up the men with belts in a moving bus was captured in mobile phones and it went viral across the nation.
The incident even started trending with the hashtag #RohtakBravehearts. The Haryana government announced a cash reward for the two brave girls at the following Republic Day celebration.
It was undoubtedly a big example to set in a country where changes - social and economic - have not necessarily guaranteed safety for its womenfolk.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), nearly 100 women are raped in India every day. Doesn't that number worry us? After so much protest and changes in the law to deal with the crime of rape, is it what we have achieved?
Age, place don't matter
Moreover, those who feel that crime against women a geographically specific problem and is common more in North India, here is some reason to think differently. Also, age is no factor when it comes to such heinous crimes.
According to Hyderabad Police, 22 per cent of those indulge in eve-teasing at public places are minors. This shows that even after the 'juvenile offender episode' of the Nirbhaya case and the changes brought in law to try young offenders, there is not much improvement on the ground. Is our legal system really a helpless one?
Of the rest, 41 per cent is aged between 18-20 and 36 per cent between 21 and 40. Hence, the problem is a universal one and has to do with the male psyche.
The NCRB has revealed further shockers. It said in the year 2015, the number of molestation and eve-teasing incidents were 5,192 and 1,444, respectively. It also reported that between 60-65 percent of the victims are aged between 15 and 30. And guess what? Almost 39 per cent of the rape crime is committed by those who are known to the victims - either friends or family members.
The social mindset doesn't change, even if the PM wants it to
While these figures continue to disturb us, the disappointment lies in the fact that our society refuses to accept eve-teasing as a serious social issue.
Even if the prime minister of the country appeals for the right upbringing of our boys, the society still holds the victims responsible for 'instigating' the perpetrators. Instead of questioning the motive behind such crime, the society finds an 'easier solution' in targeting an already injured victim further for 'inviting' rape.
Is this how our society hopes to see a bright and secure future for its girls? And if this is the mindset, how much mere changes in law on the paper mean?
The modern-day women, however, won't wait
But as we said earlier, the modern-day women have learnt the hard lesson of guarding their own honour.
Just like the two schoolgirls in Rohtak, three students of the elite St Xavier's College in Kolkata also did not wait for the society and State to come to their rescue after three men started targeting them with lewd remarks and eggs at a peak time in the evening.
The three students - Priyadarshini Hakim, Semonti Nath and Debanjana Saha - held the three by their collars and dragged them to a traffic sergeant at the busy Rashbehari crossing in South Kolkata.
The same story was repeated by 25-year-old Remi Susha Sen, a senior executive with JW Marriot, in Bengaluru. She followed the offender who had touched her inappropriately in the busy Lavelle Road, stopped the auto-rickshaw in which he was travelling and raised an alarm. She gathered public support in her favour and also approached the police to take necessary action.
In another case, a teenage girl in Puranpur in Philibit, UP, did not just protest but dragged a motorbike-borne eve-teaser into a police station, thrashed him there and even made him apologise for the act. The entire episode was video-recorded and is now an inspiration for many.
The women of today's India will not compromise on their quality of life out of fear for the menace like eve-teasing. They will not hesitate to raise a voice whenever they face injustice. It might take time to change the society's apathetic thinking and the State's careless attitude towards the problem but our women can't afford to wait till that happens. In the meantime, they will face the situation #DarrKarNahiDattKar
Take the step today to stop the danger tomorrow - DarrKarNahiDattKar, every night at 10 pm from September 26 onwards on Life OK.