India Insight

A year after a deadly rape, Delhi women not keen on self-defence classes

Riddhi Mittal took a big professional risk when she moved back to Delhi in September to start her own software company. She did not want her personal safety to be part of the risk, especially considering the gruesome tale of the deadly Delhi gang rape that made headlines around the world one year ago this week.

Mittal, who earned her undergraduate degree and master’s degree in computer science at Stanford University in California, and was an intern at Facebook and Microsoft, was apprehensive about returning to the city, now that it was dubbed “India’s rape capital,” so she signed up for self-defence classes.

“I was here in Delhi in December 2012 for my winter vacation when (the rape) happened. So I was tracking it 24×7 when I was here, and even when I went back to the U.S. in January when my vacations had ended,” said Riddhi, 23, who lives with her parents in South Delhi’s New Friends Colony.

The idea of altering her daily life in a way that forced her to mostly stay indoors to avoid “getting into danger” didn’t appeal to her. She signed up for a course at “Krav Maga India” and started taking classes at the centre’s location in the posh Saket suburb.

“It has helped me a lot because it has trained me how to best defend myself in a situation of crisis. I can kick, punch, scratch—do whatever I can to save myself with confidence. I can actually dare someone to try and hurt me now,” she said.

from Expert Zone:

Slow change comes to India a year after Delhi gang rape

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

One year ago, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered. Her story showed the world that women across India are viewed as dispensable, undeserving of full human rights.

One year later, what has changed?

It is heartening that the case of Nirbhaya, as she is known, led to the setting up of the Justice Verma commission that recommended strengthening outdated laws to protect women and their rights. Although change has been slow, more cases of sexual violence are being reported rather than silenced, scuttled or quietly settled. However, crime statistics and prosecution rates show that most of these crimes go unnoticed, unreported and absorbed into the culture of “that’s the way things are."

Looking through the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2012, it is evident that the number of complaints registered with the police, the first information reports on rape, has risen by nearly 3 percent. The number of cases that were charge-sheeted -- documented as a crime -- was 95 percent. But fewer than 15 percent of rape cases came to trial in 2012.

Delhi rape victim’s parents hold firm in desire for death penalty

The family of the trainee physiotherapist who was gang-raped in Delhi last December received a new house and 3.5 million rupees (about $54,000) in compensation for their daughter’s torture and death. It’s a bounty they would rather forgo. They want their daughter’s killers dead.

“Earlier, we used to be happy with whatever little we earned,” the victim’s mother told Reuters in an interview on Sunday. “The difference now is that despite having everything, our eyes are wet all the time.”

“When we go out and see other girls smile and giggle, we think our daughter would have also smiled like this, giggled like this; those would have been such wonderful moments. It pains us deeply when we think about that,” said the victim’s father.

  •