The 'Rape Roko Movement’ saw it’s conception after the brutal rape of an 8-month-old baby earlier this year. DCW chairperson, Swati Maliwal launched this campaign to fight against the increasing instances of rape in the country.
Three major rallies followed the declaration of this campaign. The first one took place on March 6 and was called ‘The Boxer Rally’. More two hundred men gathered at Mandi House and marched till Central Park in only their boxer shorts to get across the message that, “clothes do not cause rape, sick mentality does.” People were called to join the protest and to paint the bare bodies of these men with slogans and abstractions. “Men came from all over NCR. Many weren’t volunteers and came to support the cause,” said Arjun, a DCW volunteer and main organiser of the Boxer Rally. “The reason for rapes cannot be clothes. What was the 8-month-old [child] wearing?” he questioned.
Since the formulation of Rape Roko, the DCW has received over five lakh letters from across the nation in support of the movement and planned to submit these to Narendra Modi’s office along with a memorandum of declarations and demands. Maliwal appealed to the Prime Minister to listen to the Mann ki Baat of the nation and take quick action. On March 7, on her way to meet the Prime Minister, Maliwal was forcefully detained at Vijay Chowk. The chairperson was left “gravely injured”, after being dragged and pushed around by the police, according to a DCW official. The DCW claims that they had informed the PMO and the Delhi Police about the said meeting in advance.
The police brutality did not dissuade the supporters of the movement from successfully carrying out the final rally on International Women’s Day on. The protest on March 8 consisted majorly of women, who demanded completion of trials in cases of sexual assault against women and children by fast-track courts within six months; death penalty for child rapists. “If Pakistan can give justice to Zainab in one month, why can not India?” said Maliwal.
Luke Kenny and Yogeshwar Dutt, along with thousands of women, men and children participated in the human chain that contoured the march. Celebrities like Rabbi Shergill graced the event, along with WDC Minister Manish Sisodia openly supported this campaign.
The movement has now got its own anthem too, that was unveiled at the rally on March 8. The anthem has been produced by playback singer Caralisa Monteiro and features Farhan Akhtar, Shankar Mahadevan, Anushka Manchanda, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Luke Kenny. Earlier, in support of the DCW campaign, a bunch of Delhi University students had made rangoli on Holi and had to face a lot of flak for it on various social media platforms.
The movement also gained support from the Indian Medical Association(IMA) and district court bar associations. In a letter to Swati Maliwal, the IMA wrote, “We support the Rape Roko movement ... to demand a robust criminal justice system, which ensures cases of sexual crimes against women and children are tried by fast-track courts within six months and rapists of children are essentially accorded death penalty as strong deterrent for others against such crimes.” The coordination committee for all district court bar associations in a letter to Maliwal said that the movement is the “need of the hour” and that the unspent Nirbhaya Fund should be used for the welfare of women and girls.
Swati Maliwal, while speaking to the media said, “... We have gone to courts, spoken to leaders and tried writing letters to the government, but it has not worked till now. That’s why the Rape Roko movement had been launched ... I am doing a Satyagraha for the past 37 days. The Rape Roko movement has now spiralled into a nationwide movement and we will not stop until a system is created which ensures that trials in cases of child rapes end within six months and the guilty are given the death penalty.”