NEW DELHI – Last December’s fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi triggered an unprecedented public outcry in India. Tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets to demand an end to police indifference to women’s safety, stronger laws, and speedier trials for those charged with crimes against women. The protests launched a countrywide movement, spurring nonstop media coverage of women’s issues. So, has significant change followed?
Within eight days of the rape, a special commission, led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice J.S. Verma, was established. The commission’s roughly 700-page report, completed in only 29 days, urged the government to take swift, far-reaching action. Among the report’s recommendations were stronger penalties for sex crimes, including harassment; a requirement that police officers report every instance of alleged rape; and broader measures to address pervasive discrimination against women.