Nirbhaya to Shakti Laws: Why Preventing Rape Not on Agenda?

Despite making stricter laws around rape, why is it that India is not being able to prevent violence against women?

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16 December brings back memories of the heinous Nirbhaya gang rape case of 2012 that shook the very core of the nation and the seven long years that it took to bring justice.

It was only nine months back on 20 March 2020 that this case got finally got closure, with all four convicts being hanged to death. It was said to be a victorious day not just for Nirbhaya but women, in general, yet as we think about Nirbhaya's justice, a lot of other factors also come to mind.

Why is it that crimes against women have risen further by 7.3 percent in the just the last one year? Despite death penalties being awarded in some cases, why is it that India is not being able to prevent violence against women?

With the Maharashtra state cabinet recently approving a draft for the Shakti Bill on 9 December to protect children against sexual violence – it's raising a lot of questions on whether the governments are being short sighted with rape laws.

Among other things, while the Bill proposes death penalty for rape, gang rape and penetrative sexual assault against children and women, it also seeks to add an ‘explanation’ on 'implied consent', suggesting that in circumstances that point to ‘consent or implied consent’, consent will be presumed.

While lawyers, women's rights activists and children's rights activists are outraged and are viewing the Bill as regressive, an old but persistent argument against death penalty for rape is also back in focus.

Are such draconian laws more reactionary in nature rather than creating a process to help survivors and victims? Is India's focus on punishment rather than prevention of rape and sexual crimes doing more harm than good? Tune in to The Big Story!

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