Indian media: Has Delhi gang rape changed anything?

Image caption,
The brutal gang rape of a student sparked a wave of protests across India last year

The gang rape and murder of a student on 16 December 2012 kept the media's focus on women's safety throughout the year. But do women feel safer, ask Indian newspapers exactly a year after the brutal incident.

The gang rape of the 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in Delhi had triggered intense protests across the country which led to the formation of stringent anti-rape laws and special fast-track courts.

But a year later, The Hindustan Times says "women across India still live with the daily fear of sexual assault, they are still told that their dress or conduct will invite violence against them and the police are still most cavalier in dealing with such cases".

"Nothing much has changed on the streets... The Delhi police have failed to provide protection to residents during night hours, even though they claimed to have beefed up patrolling in the city," says The Pioneer.

Most papers agree that the case brought discussions about violence against women into people's drawing rooms, but feel attitudes still need to change.

The CNN-IBN website says "crime against women hasn't reduced, demands for introspection and a change in mindsets is growing by the day".

'Sexual terrorism'

While India has a long way to go towards changing attitudes on violence against women, the new laws have also failed to yield the desired results.

Papers say the problem lies in the "poor implementation" of the law as those in powerful positions are often caught carrying the same regressive views.

Image caption,
Newspapers continue to question the authorities and attitudes on the issue of women's safety in India

"The situation could be judged from the very fact that even police officials face the ignominy of being harassed and teased. They often face lewd remarks and are groped in public transport systems such as buses and metro," writes The Pioneer.

Warning that "this apathy could prove fatal for women", the Hindustan Times says that "we cannot wait around for mindsets to change but certainly the law can be swift in apprehending the culprits and retribution can be certain… the authorities are simply not reacting enough to the people's anger".

The Asian Age says that "sexual terrorism" continues against women in India, and that laws "are useless unless implemented with alacrity and sensitivity".

Activists feel India's police force and judicial system need to be sensitised about the emotional trauma the victims in such cases often face.

"Unless the focus changes from detection, conviction and death penalty to a victim-centric approach of dignity, support, care and treatment, a rape trial will continue to be traumatic," activist Flavia Agnes writes in the paper.

Silver lining

Papers say the unprecedented pressure from the public and the media has yielded some positive results.

More and more women are coming out to report cases of sexual abuses and papers see this as an encouraging sign.

"Stringent changes in law and setting up of fast track courts that followed have not been able to bring down the number of rape and sexual harassment cases, but reporting of such incidents has increased manifold," says The New Indian Express.

Image caption,
Papers feel the case has made the issue of women's safety a topic of public discussion

The Hindustan Times, in another article, says things are looking up in urban areas as drawing room and "office cubicle conversations" are changing and, hopefully, so are attitudes.

"There is growing awareness of what constitutes rape. But as the sexual assault on a young journalist from news magazine Tehelka last month revealed, such wrongs can happen to even the most empowered of women," the report adds.

"With monotonous regularity, top police officers, judges, lawyers, politicians, even women's commission heads, continue to make the most odious sexist remarks… What has changed, though, is that such sexists are forced to shout louder," is how Kavita Krishnan sums up the silver lining.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.