ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Jyoti Singh Lives On

Some gains, but still no change in mindsets five years after the landmark case.

Five years ago, on 16 December 2012, Jyoti Singh was grievously sexually assaulted on a moving bus in Delhi. As details of the assault became public, the sheer brutality she had been subjected to generated widespread outrage and protests. The government of the day was forced to fast-track the investigation and trial of what came to be known as the “Nirbhaya” case, as also draft stricter legal provisions to prevent/prosecute sexual violence against women culminating in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The case paved the way for opening up critical public discussions on pervasive violence against women in the country and possible pathways out of it.

Jyoti Singh’s life story embodies the aspirations and mobilities of young India today. This probably explains why her tragedy disturbed so many people across the country. The past five years have witnessed the rise of several autonomous movements of young women against sexual harassment from the streets to universities. These include the Rewari schoolgirls’ agitation in Haryana against harassment on the way to school; women students of Banaras Hindu University, Uttar Pradesh against molestation on campus; the Pinjra Tod (break the cage) movement on campuses of Delhi University; Break the Curfew movement in engineering colleges of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala against discriminatory hostel rules; the Hok Kolorob (make some noise) movement in West Bengal demandingjustice in a case of sexual harassment of a student; and the most recent #MeToo campaign on social media that floated a crowdsourced list naming sexual offenders in Indian academe.Various high-profile rape cases like the Shakti Mills case (Mumbai), the Budaun gang rape (Uttar Pradesh), the Mahmood Farooqui case, the Jisha rape and murder case (Kerala) and the Kopardi case (Maharashtra) raked up vociferous public protests in their wake. Thus, five years later, India has witnessed some progress on the plank of fighting sexual harassment and rape. Most notably, there is greater public acknowledgement of and outrage against the phenomenon of sexual violence today as opposed to the earlier tendency to invisibilise the same.

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Updated On : 19th Dec, 2017

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