Friday, December 28, 2012

Violence against women - does it get worse?

Heavy topic for an 'end of the year' post, but this cannot go unsaid.

When I was in India visiting family, this happened:

PTI, New Delhi, Dec 19 - The 23-year-old paramedical student, who was gang-raped and tortured in a moving bus on Sunday night, today underwent fifth surgery and "continues to be critical but stable", doctors attending on her said.
And this:

PTI, NEW DELHI, December 27, 2012 - A 42-year-old woman was gang-raped allegedly by three men in Uttar Pradesh who then dumped her in the Kalkaji area south-east Delhi, police said on Thursday. The brutal incident came to light even as 23-year-old gang rape victim Nirbhaya was being flown to Singapore for treatment on Wednesday night.
And this:
The HINDU, NAGAPATTINAM, December 23, 2012 - An eleven-year-old Dalit girl was raped, allegedly by two adolescent boys, when she was in her house in Thalainayar block in Nagapattinam on Friday. Harrowed by the experience, and physically hurt, the girl informed her parents only on Saturday morning. The police detained the minor boys on rape charge.
The girl, of Puthur panchayat here, was in her house preparing for her exam scheduled for noon on Friday, when the two boys, aged 17 and 15, residents of the area, entered her house. According to the girl, she was carried inside the house, held behind a partition, gagged and repeatedly assaulted. The girl’s six-year-old brother, who was sent out of the house by the boys, screamed for help.  

And the latest news about the gang-raped 23-year old student:

AP, New Delhi, Dec 28 - Doctors say a young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi has died at a hospital in Singapore.
A statement by Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital where the 23-year-old victim was being treated said she “died peacefully” early Saturday.

Died peacefully???

And several other such brutal incidents that went unreported and unnoticed.

While the first story made headlines probably because of its gruesome nature and the fact that such a shocking crime happened in such a public location, a number of other heinous crimes against women go unreported or are relegated to some quiet column in the middle pages of an obscure local newspaper.

It's news like this that make every woman in India pause before venturing out into the neighborhood on her own. And give families of women cause for concern. It certainly was on my mind when I laced up my shoes and ran on the roads and streets of the town I grew up in, in broad daylight. It brought back all the frustration I felt as a girl, rebelling against safety restrictions imposed on me because of my gender, feeling helpless against the innumerable injustices against women that were taken for granted.

Gruesome statistic from the National Crime Records Bureau: In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. This is such a vast issue. There is still a commonly accepted perception of rape as personal shame, not a violent crime; and male aggression is routinely excused as a mundane fact of life. So much needs to be done...scrutinizing and revamping rape laws, improving public confidence in law and order, actually improving law and order, changing the attitudes of people, educating individuals about the consequences of rape...

In the 11 years that I have lived in the US, one of the privileges I have cherished the most is the freedom to do what I choose. I enjoy being able to run, hike, travel on my own. I have to be aware of my surroundings and take precautions, but have few to no restrictions based on my gender. And I wish this fundamental freedom for every woman across the world.

What can we do? Educate ourselves, spread the word, add our voices to the others that are clamoring for this injustice to end...and hope for small changes, even the smallest ones, that will make a safer world.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thanks for posting. I think, as Americans, we underestimate what our influence in other countries can do to help women. When our culture gets exported along with Hollywood and McDonald's, so does our view of women which is a good thing. We need our media outlets to put international news into context so that people here will be sufficiently upset over how humans are treated elsewhere. We need to see more pictures and hear more stories and as a nation we need to do more.
Hope 2013 is good to you!