On Decembe 16, a young (23 yrs old) woman was brutally gang-raped on a public bus in India. Six men attacked her, restrained her boyfriend and molested her, inflicting severe trauma to her body. She died yesterday. As Reuters report in their article: “A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.”
Her death has lead to renewed demands from the Indian public that something has got to change in the world’s upcoming superpower — that the ongoing abuse of women must end. In the week after the incident, India saw a wave of demonstrations and a rare public outcry.
Foreign Policy magazine (they now ask you to sign in to read their articles – it’s easy and free, so no reason not to open an account) has an excellent analysis of the issues by RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL: India Has a Woman Problem.
This makes for a debilitating sexual repressiveness, which women’s organizations believe accounts for the high rate of sexual violence. A 2011 survey of gender equality by the Washington-headquartered International Centre for Research on Women revealed that one in four Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives and one in five has forced his partner to have sex with him, far higher rates than the five other countries surveyed. More than 65 percent of Indian men surveyed believe that women sometimes deserved to be beaten, and that to keep the family together, women should tolerate violence. “In India, the age-old code of conduct has been to keep men and women separate. So women are only viewed as sex objects,” Vibhuti Patel, a women’s rights activist, told the Times of India.
In the midst of the increased focus on this, I took advantage of the gobal village we live in. And sent a quick message on Facebook to an Indian friend of mine in Mumbai. She works in a woman’s organisation, and is a wise person. And I wanted to hear her thoughts on this. Is this really a mass movement for change, or is it a few (Westernised) groups beating drums but not effecting change? She wrote me back immediately, that she is so happy there is a world-wide coverage of the case in all its tragedy. and that it seems to her that the ‘average joe’ is realising something is very very wrong in Indian society and must change. Now.
I wish them success. More power to you, men and women of India!