#MeToo offers hope, says mother of Delhi gang rape victim

#MeToo offers hope, says mother of Delhi gang rape victim

Asha Singh, the mother of the female student who was gang raped and killed on a Delhi bus six years ago, talks on her mobile phone in her house in Delhi, India on December 12, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Annie Banerji

“The winds of change are blowing, more women areempowering themselves. I feel hopeful when I see so many women speakingup.”

NEW DELHI, December 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The mother of a female student whose brutal gang rape sparked mass protests in India has said the country’s #MeToo movement gives her hope things can change, as she marked the sixth anniversary of the fatal attack.


Asha Singh said the nationwide outrage her daughter’s ordealprovoked had helped create the conditions for Indian women to speak out aboutsexual misconduct, after a slew of accusations against high-profile men inrecent months.

Asha Singh, the mother of the female student who was gang raped and killed on a Delhi bus six years ago, gestures at a certificate honouring her daughter after her death in her house in Delhi, India on December 12, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Annie Banerji


“This (#MeToo in India) is the result of that awarenesswhich is helping women to come out with courage,” she told the ThomsonReuters Foundation in an interview.


“The winds of change are blowing, more women areempowering themselves. I feel hopeful when I see so many women speakingup.”


Singh’s daughter, a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist,died after she was gang raped on a moving bus, in a case that triggered globaloutrage and forced Indian authorities to tighten laws on sex crimes.


She said her daughter helped prompt national soul-searchingabout India’s treatment of women and brought discussions on their safety intopeople’s living rooms.


The #MeToo campaign found momentum in India in September,almost a year after it hit the U.S. entertainment industry, when Bollywoodactress Tanushree Dutta accused a veteran actor of sexually harassing her on afilm set a decade earlier.


Since then, scores of women have levelled complaints ofsexual misconduct against prominent journalists, film personalities, comedians,lawyers and executives.


“Men thought they could do whatever they want and getaway with it. They thought they were untouchable, but look at how all of thatis changing,” said Singh in her sparsely furnished apartment in a Delhisuburb.


“Little did they think that women would start speakingout, even after 10 or 15 years.”


Despite legal reforms there has been little improvement inwomen’s safety in India, which recorded nearly 40,000 rapes in 2016, the latestyear for which data is available.


New Delhi alone registered 2,170 cases in 2016, an averageof nearly six a day.


Singh said the figures would not be so high if India fixedits notoriously slow and creaking criminal justice system, which she blames forthe fact her daughter’s attackers are still alive after they were convicted andsentenced to death.


“Today completes six years (of the attack), but eventoday the guilty are alive,” she said.


“This sends a wrong message to society. Today, littlegirls are being attacked because nobody fears the law.”