New Delhi: Five years have passed since the 2012 gang rape and subsequent death of a young physiotherapy student in the national capital.

Massive protests were held across the country, in response to which promises were made by the government to change laws, deliver speedy justice to rape victims, and make cities safer for women.

On the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Mint looks at what’s changed and what hasn’t.

Laws

The incident prompted the setting up of a three-member panel headed by former chief justice of India J.S. Verma to rework laws relating to crimes against women.

Based on its recommendations, three months after the rape, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was passed.

The definition of rape changed, age of consent for women was raised to 18, among other things.

Under the amended juvenile law, rapists between the ages of 16 and 18 are now treated as adults.

Fast-track courts

Even though fast-track courts were set up in 2000 to accelerate the delivery of justice and reduce pendency in courts, by 2011, as reported in a December 2014 story in Mint, the 1,734 fast-track courts across the country had been more or less wound up.

It was only after the Delhi gang rape that everyone started talking about speedy trials.

The amendments to the criminal law recommend that rape trials be completed within two months.

However, according to recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures, during 2016 there were 118,537 cases of rape pending trial.

Safer Delhi?

According to the latest NCRB report, Delhi contributed one in every three cases of crimes against women that took place in metropolitan cities and 4% of all such cases in the country. Delhi reported 1,996 rape cases in 2016, up from 1,893 in 2015.

Nirbhaya fund

According to an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on the utilization of Nirbhaya fund, on 23 August this year, the centre has sanctioned Rs264 crore—which is 8.5% of total money allocated to the fund—till August 2017.

Ground reality

According to an investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch into 21 cases of rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment after the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 took effect, survivors of rape continue to face humiliation, blame and distrust at police stations.

Police still resist filing the first information report (FIR), especially if the victim is from an economically or socially marginalized community.

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