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What Indian women have been saying on the Delhi gang-rape case

By Sunny Hundal
January 2 2013




Rather than reading ignorant and factually misleading commentary by white folks in the British press (incl the Libby Purves piece in the Times), why not hear what Indian women have been saying about the Delhi rape case controversy?

Here are a few pieces if you are interested.

Nilanjana Roy on her blog:

The grief hit harder than I’d expected. And I had two thoughts, as across Delhi, I heard some of the finest and toughest men I know break down in their grief, as some of the calmest and strongest women I know called and SMSed to say that she—one of us, this girl who had once had a future and a life of her own to lead—was gone, that it was over.

The first was: enough. Let there be an end to this epidemic of violence, this culture where if we can’t kill off our girls before they are born, we ensure that they live these lives of constant fear. Like many women in India, I rely on a layer of privilege, a network of friends, paranoid security measures and a huge dose of amnesia just to get around the city, just to travel in this country. So many more women have neither the privilege, nor the luxury of amnesia, and this week, perhaps we all stood up to say, “Enough”, no matter how incoherently or angrily we said it.

Meera Subramanian in the Revealer

In 1990, Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen argued that the bias has led to 100 million missing women. The estimate today is that in India alone there are 15 million “extra” men. More recently, Mara Hvistendahl, the author of Unnatural Selection, and Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea den Boer, co-authors of Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population, all contend that in a world where there are increasingly more men who are unable to find a mate because of this skewed gender imbalance, there will be an increase in violence in general and sexual violence against women in particular. These unattached males move in packs, more brazen in their actions in a culture where sexual harassment is already endemic. As women have made socio-economic gains, becoming more educated, more independent, and more visible in the public sphere, it seems that the backlash from men threatened by their presence is increasing in stride.

The gang rape story of the unnamed woman is not a new one. I have just returned from months of travel across North India, from Punjab to Bihar, traveling alone on overnight trains and unknown bus routes. I stayed safe, but every single day I would open the local paper and read about a rape – gang rapes or the rape of a three-year-old child that would make me weep before my morning chai. It is common. It is even more common for there not to be a report, and not be a news story.

Vandana Shiva at Al Jazeera

Rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990 which increased to 16,496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And New Delhi has emerged as the rape capital of India, accounting for 25 percent cases.

The movement to stop this violence must be sustained till justice is done for every one of our daughters and sisters who has been violated.

And while we intensify our struggle for justice for women, we need to also ask why rape cases have increased 240 percent since 1990s when the new economic policies were introduced. We need to examine the roots of the growing violence against women.

Sonia Faleiro in the NYT

As a teenager, I learned to protect myself. I never stood alone if I could help it, and I walked quickly, crossing my arms over my chest, refusing to make eye contact or smile. I cleaved through crowds shoulder-first, and avoided leaving the house after dark except in a private car. At an age when young women elsewhere were experimenting with daring new looks, I wore clothes that were two sizes too large. I still cannot dress attractively without feeling that I am endangering myself.

Things didn’t change when I became an adult. Pepper spray wasn’t available, and my friends, all of them middle- or upper-middle-class like me, carried safety pins or other makeshift weapons to and from their universities and jobs. One carried a knife, and insisted I do the same. I refused; some days I was so full of anger I would have used it — or, worse, had it used on me.

Arundhati Roy interview

However, the real problem is why is this crime creating such a lot of outrage is because it plays into the idea of the criminal poor, like the vegetable vendor, gym instructor or bus driver actually assaulting a middle class girl. Whereas when rape is used as a means of domination by upper castes, the army or the police it is not even punished,” said the feted author.

When asked if there was any chance that these huge protests are going to ring in some genuine change, Roy said, “I think it will lead to some new laws perhaps, an increased surveillance, but all of that will protect middle class women. But in cases of the army and the police as perpetrators, we are not looking for laws. What do you do when the police themselves burn down villages, gang-rape women. I have personally listened to so many testimonies of women to whom this has been done.

Originally published by Liberal Conspiracy 

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