'Nazar Teri Buri Aur Parda Mein Karoon?' 'Don't tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape,' read the placards held by citizens, activists and NGOs gathered together outside Mandi House Station on Saturday morning in protest against the relenteless stream of rape cases that have rocked the National Capital Region in recent times.
With 465 rape cases registered in the city in 2011, 489 in 2010 and 459 in 2009, the protesters sought answers from the police on just why such cases have occurred unchecked in the coutry's national capital, often called the rape capital of India. Citizen's Collective Against Sexual Assault, a rainbow coalition of NGOs and activists, led the protest march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar shouting slogans against rape.
The motley crowd included both men and women, differently-abled groups, US nationals and passers-by who were so impressed by the initiative that they joined in, like S P Arora, a retired sales tax inspector who was headed for Mandi House Metro station on Saturday, but ended up joining the protest. Groups and individuals from far-flung corners of the NCR, like Dheeraj Bakshi, a businessman from Faridabad who read about the protest on a pamphlet at Nehru Place, also joined in.
People should have confidence that when they approach the police something will come out of it. Our message to the police is simple - You have a job so you have got to do it," said Kalpana Viswanath of Jagori, an organisation that has pioneered the study of gender and space in Delhi. A delegation also submitted a memorandum to the police commissioner of Delhi. The memorandum calls for the police commissioners of Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida to publicly condemn statements made by their colleagues who have, in the past, blamed the victim for her dress and behaviour.
Other demands included timely response from the Delhi police helplines as well as regular training on gender sensitivity for the police force. "Standard Operating Procedures for sexual assault cases must be made available in the public domain so that all citizens are aware of their rights under such circumstances," said the memorandum to the police commissioner.