On a cold December night in 2012, a 23-year old woman, a paramedical student was brutally gang raped and grievously assaulted, and her male friend injured in a private transport bus in India's capital city, Delhi. While the young woman was battling for life in hospital and following her death two weeks later, there was an outpouring of outrage and grief not only in Delhi but across the cities and smaller towns of India, a phenomenon perhaps unparalleled in recent history of public agitation in the country. The nation-wide outcry was primarily directed against the apathy and insensitivity of the criminal justice system of the state, as seen in the abysmally low conviction rate in rape cases (24% in 2011, National Crime Records Bureau).
On the side lines of these protests were public pronouncements made by some representatives of the political class squarely holding women responsible for sexual violence. These statements ranged from blaming the victim for venturing out late in the night to attributing the public visibility and mobility of women to the 'corrupt influence of western lifestyles' and modern 'urban values', and by implication, to women falling prey to sexual crimes. Women were also exhorted to be 'fully' clothed and to remain confined to the 'safety and security' of the home to prevent being raped.