Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rape in a Country Born from Nonviolence

Throughout human history, rape and sexual violence against women has been a persistent stain upon society's fabric. It dehumanizes women, makes them feel powerless and abused, and opens the door to a barrage of psychological issues.
In December 2012, residents throughout India sat horrified in front of the television, as news of a cruel gang rape came in. On the evening of December 16th, a 23-year-old woman was walking home from the mall with her friend after watching a movie. They boarded a bus, and found the driver and five other men drunk. The men beat up woman's friend and then took turns raping her and violating her with an iron rod. They then dumped the two by the side of the road. The woman's internal injuries were so severe that she passed away two weeks later.
This incident happened in the heart of Delhi, the nation's capital. Citizens took to the streets in protest and anger. How could such a brazen act of violence occur just outside an upscale mall and miles from the steps of the president's mansion, a mere stone's throw away from my own grandparent's house? It opened the window on the issue of rape and sexual violence against women, an issue which had never reached as much publicity until then. Just yesterday, four of the men were convicted and sentenced to death (the fifth man was found hung in his prison cell and the sixth, a juvenile, can only be given three years under the law before he is set free). This verdict and rather speedy trial came only as the result of intense media pressure and protest on the case. But this case is one of the very few and rare which achieve any form of justice for the victim.
According to Indian government statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes. What's worse-- a vast majority of these incidences go completely unnoticed. How could the world's largest democracy fail so miserably to protect half its people from such horrific crime? It is shameful that a country with such a rich history of nonviolence and peace could sit idly by and watch as women are abused and violated daily.
Major change needs to happen, and the execution of four men isn't going to achieve anything. There is still blatant indifference by police and the judicial system on the issue of rape, as they seem to be desensitized to it, viewing the crime as an everyday, insignificant occurrence. Though India's laws on rape, acid attacks, human trafficking, and stalking have become stricter following this case and other highly-publicized incidences since, it is the mindset of people that need to change. India needs to work on attacking the issue at the root. It needs to significantly ramp up education in schools and public facilities, emphasizing rape as a crime. The country needs to unite as a whole and acknowledge the issue, instead of just a few women's advocacy groups doing all the legwork. The population needs to come together in active demonstration, not just temporary protest, and fight harder than ever for the equality of women and rejection of rape.


1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Arush. You are right, the execution of four men is not going to completely change the rate of rape in any country. This is only going to change as women are empowered so that they have similar access to education and employment as men. As long as women are seen as weaker and less important, they are going to be subjects of domination, and in some cases, rape. Rape is never about sex but about power and those who rape feel powerless. So what might an even more difficult question to think through is what about the men? Why do the men, even though they live in a society that says that they are stronger, still do things like take advantage of the more vulnerable? What is going on with the men in the country, as well as the women, could help us perhaps take a step in understanding the nature of this horrible crime.