Women continue to be vulnerable

Seven years after Nirbhaya’s death, a Delhi court declared on Tuesday that four men convicted of gang-raping, torturing and killing her will be hanged on 22 January. The four death row convicts are Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta. The brutal rape and killing of Nirbhaya seven years on a cold winter night in Delhi shocked the whole country. The whole nation mourned her death and there was nationwide protest. The government had promised to bring in stronger laws and take various steps to make women safer.
However, the situation has not changed much and women still continue to remain vulnerable. Following her killing, the then government set up the Nirbhaya Fund in 2013 – a separate fund for meeting expenditures to ensure safety of women. The government proposed an allocation of Rs 10,000 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund to ensure safety of women. But hardly any woman can today claim that the Nirbhaya Fund has made her fearless. The horrific gang-rape and murder of a woman veterinarian in Telangana, and similar incidents in Bihar, Rajasthan and Karnataka indicate that women are as unsafe and fearful today as they were on the eve of the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.
Under the Nirbhaya Fund the Centre gives money to the states, which in turn spend it on programmes meant for ensuring women’s safety. The women & child development ministry is the nodal agency for expenditure from the Nirbhaya Fund. According to recent data, presented in Parliament by Women & Child Development Minister Smriti Irani in November – in the wake of questions raised over the safety and security of women following the Hyderabad gang-rape and murder case – the utilisation rate of the Nirbhaya Fund has been found to be very dismal. This shows that governments are not serious about ensuring safety of women in India.