December 16: A Year After

By Hemani Bhandari,

December 16 2012, a 23-year old student of Delhi was brutally gang raped by six men in Munirka, a southern part of New Delhi. But a major question in rather a bigger domain is that who stands at loss?  Inevitably, the girl who lost her life after being raped, her parents who have lost their child for life, whom they will never be able to see again, her fiancé who witnessed the rape, an episode which he will never be able to erase from his memories and suffer the pangs of unrequited love. Amidst her loved ones, lies the biggest loser. The city which spent a century building its image as the well-thought-of capital of the county, has now an adjective attached to it, THE-RAPE-CAPITAL.

“This July, when I was given an offer to chose from National Institute of Fashion Technology in Delhi or Hyderabad, my father forced me get admission in Hyderabad because he thinks Delhi is unsafe for girls,” said Garima Oberoi (name changed), a student of NIFT, Hyderabad.

The girl’s father went to an extent of emotionally blackmailing her to choose Hyderabad irrespective of NIFT, Delhi having brighter future prospects, told the girl.

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Another girl, Deborima Ganguly studying at Asian College of Journalism, Chennai said that she had to literally beg her mother to atleast fill the admission form for Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi for her post-graduate diploma as a back-up option. Her mother has strictly forbidden her to get placed in New Delhi after her post-graduation.

The image of New Delhi has tarnished after the December 16, gang-rape case, though there is no denying the fact that the gang rape indeed was brutal and demanded attention. However, the media coverage focussed more on the city it happened in than the cause itself.

Delhi was unofficially renamed from the capital of India to the Rape capital of the country by all the newspapers and news channels across the globe after December 16, 2012. From the unfateful day till date, the Delhi gang rape case has become an analogy for every rape case happening in the country.

A gang rape was committed in Mumbai in August 2013 which was widely covered by the media but what made to the headlines of a few newspapers was “Not Again: A gang rape in Mumbai”, the question is:  why this analogy? A rape is as unacceptable in Delhi as in any other state. Why only a few rape cases make it to the headlines of newspapers? Why do media choose to sensationalize only a few selected rape cases? Why Delhi was proclaimed the Rape Capital and not any other city where the number of rape victims is much higher than in Delhi?

According to National Crime Records Bureau, of the 24,923 rape cases reported across India in 2012, only 3,025 were from cities  and to my surprise, Madhya Pradesh has reported highest number of rape cases (3,425) accounting for 13.7% of total such cases reported in the country, not Delhi.

Media has been found guilty on being selective while reporting rape cases but what it is also guilty of is to defame the city which was once remembered for better reasons.

“My sentiments are deeply hurt when someone who has never even visited Delhi has preconceived notions about its safety, whatever happened was unfortunate but it could happen in any other city too, why should Delhi bear the brunt? “ a close friend remarked.

Well, in my opinion, Delhi just got unlucky.

(Hemani Bhandari is a student of journalism studying at Asian College of Journalism in Chennai.)

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