Five years after the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, nothing has changed in India

The death of the New Delhi student sparked a wave of protest but her parents say the situation for women is now worse

Joyti Singh, who was fatally assaulted by six men on a bus in Delhi. Photographs: Arkaprava Ghosh / Barcroft India via Getty Images and Natisha Mallick

Joyti Singh, who was fatally assaulted by six men on a bus in Delhi. Photographs: Arkaprava Ghosh / Barcroft India via Getty Images and Natisha Mallick

 

Five years ago today, Jyoti Singh got on a bus in New Delhi after going to watch The Life of Pi with a male friend. What happend next to her on that bus shocked not just India but the world – six men took it in turns to rape her and used an iron bar. When she died on December 29th of the dreadful internal injuries she had sustained in the attck, India and the world was transfixed by the story.

Despite the demonstrations that took place all over India, campaigning for a safer society for women, virtually nothing has changed since then. Consistent and widespread gender-based violence towards women in India remains commonplace five years on, and is the country’s most shameful fact.

The Delhi Commission for Women found that between 2012 and 2014, there were 31,446 reported cases of crimes against women in the city. These were the cases that got reported: very many do not. From those crimes in excess of 30,000 against women, there were only 150 convictions.

Jyoti Singh’s parents have remained in the public eye to campaign for justice for women and girls who are victims of sexual abuse. Talking to the Observer in Delhi this month, they spoke out in advance of the fifth anniversary of their daughter’s death.

Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, Jyoti’s parents, at home in Delhi. Photograph: Arkaprava Ghosh/Barcroft India via Getty Images
Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, Jyoti’s parents, at home in Delhi. Photograph: Arkaprava Ghosh/Barcroft India via Getty Images

“Five years have gone. These five years have been really difficult for us. We suffered a lot,” her mother, Asha, said. Our emotional pain was enormous. Everyday girls are being raped and targeted for sexual assault, be it in Delhi or other states across the country.”

Her father, Badrinath, said the situation for women in India has gotten worse. “If you ask me if there has been any change in the system, I would say no with a capital N.” He went on to say, “The crime graph never stopped. It continued to grow day by day. The situation has worsened to such an extent that nowadays girl children are being raped in various parts of our country. I know my daughter will never come back. But this fight is not for us or our family. It is for many other Jyoti Singhs who are also like my daughter and suffered similar mishaps in life. This fight is to ensure safety for them.”

Of the six men who gang raped Jyoti Singh that night, one, a juvenile, was released from prison after three years. One died in prison, although it is unclear whether through suicide or murder. The other four were sentenced to death; a sentence her parents Asha and Badrinath welcomed. They remain on death row while appeals continue.

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