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Women rights: Rape is not just an India problem

By Emb Hashmi
January 9 2012




Jyoti Singh Pandey known to the world as Damini the victim of the horrific gang rape in India on the 16 December 2012 was said to be a female physiotherapy interna young lady with a prosperous future in front of her.

Her only crime was that she was a woman who boarded the wrong bus, which would lead to her unsuspected brutal and sad death. 

She was taken to a hospital, in the country she called home, only to be moved to a hospital in Singapore, where she was to undergo emergency treatment for brain and gastrointestinal damage from the unspeakable and heart wrenching assault, however it was to no prevail as she sadly lost her battle and died thirteen days later.

This type of horrific attack on woman in a lot of south Asian countries is unfortunately not rare, and many times goes unreported, with many rapists not receiving the punishment that matches their disgraceful crime, many walking free to re-offend with no fear of repercussions.

It has taken an international outrage in response to Daminis gang rape for the government and state departments in India to take this crime seriously and swiftly implement emergency laws and safe guards for woman, and more importantly to recognise that rape is a heinous crime were offenders need the toughest punishment, if no other reason but to show other suspects that is will not be tolerated, and hope this would help in reducing rape cases and encourage more victims to come forward in the knowledge that they will see their horrific ordeal dealt with in a professional fair and just manner.

Daminis case has provoked a response from powerful organisations and leaders such as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, who called on the Government of India and the Government of Delhi “to do everything in their power to take up radical reforms, ensure justice and reach out with robust public services to make women’s lives more safe and secure” 

The people of Delhi and all over major cities in India took to the streets to show their anger, distress and solidarity with Damini and her family.

So emotionally charged where the protesters that thousands clashed with security forces.

The rise of the people of India against this crime is being depicted as the Indian Arab spring, were raw emotion and the passion for a fairer more just society is on the forefront of Indians.

However it is important to remember that gang rape and rape is not just an Indian crime, it does not just occur in India and it is not the only country in the world pre-Damini where it was not taken seriously, horrendous cases of horrific rape is reported in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many other south Asian countries which have seen very slow prosecution rates and very few offenders being found guilty.

Mainly because charges and cases are frequently dropped due to bribes, threats of further violence towards the victim and family pressure on the victim to avoid further ‘shame’.

After Daminis case was made into a global news story it opened the flood gates to other rape cases in that region, such as the shocking story about a nine year old Pakistani girl who was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after being kidnapped and brutally gang-raped. Even though the distraught girl’s mother has named the abusers, the authorities have made no arrests to date.

In Bangladesh the rape of intelligent young collage girl was reported the Police arrested a number of youth including one for his alleged involvement in the rape of the college girl and taking obscene photographs and a making video film of her.

This seems to be the just the start of a revolutionary response to rape around the world.

In Birmingham a young woman by the name of Reena Combo who saw Damini’s story on Indian news channels, felt so sick at what she saw she felt compelled to do something, to show solidarity for Damini and save many others from her horrific ordeal. She started a campaign called Justice for Damini, where she writes blogs and was one of the first women in Britain to organise a successful candle lit vigil. Reena said “I feel so strongly about this, I felt helpless sitting across the globe and not being able to do a thing. I wanted to vent, I wanted to speak out and be heard and the only platform I could find was social networking.

Reena said rape is sadly not just an Indian crime “Rape happens everywhere in the world, we all know that just by what we read and see in the news”.

Reena said “places like India do not like to reveal rape cases, which maybe one of the problems “in India it’s not so ‘revealed’ because culturally we are a country where we shy away from such taboo subjects and because women feel ashamed or afraid to speak out. Also, women don’t speak out because they don’t feel they will be heard and will be taken seriously”.

Reena went on to say the Indian authorities must change the law “nothing to think about! If they don’t, we will continue to hear of more and more stories such as ‘Damini’s, which we are already! Changing laws however isn’t the only thing that needs changing. Education needs to change and I’m talking on the grass roots of culture. The way parents educate their children needs to change, school, colleges & universities need to introduce something into the education systems to teach the next generation and adapt to a more open-minded environment”.

More woman are reporting rape “That’s the only positive that has come out of this horrific ordeal. There have been a number of cases I’ve heard of since, for example a girl from Punjab who was raped and then killed herself after she was being to marry her rapist by her family and the police (disgusting!)
There have been a number of child rape cases come to the forefront too and most recently another rang-rape case in the area of Noida in Delhi of a 21-year-old woman. It’s truly sickening and breaks my heart!” said Reena.

As many millions of others Reena believe governments all over the world need to take immediate and serious action against rapists, “they need to be treated with the utmost seriousness and immediately. If a women has come forward and said she has been raped they need to see how much courage that took and treat her with the respect she deserves”.

Many who have spoken out about rape like Reena believe the punishments need to be harsh and set a severe example to others. Damini’s lives on through her story.

About the Author:    Embreen Hashmi  is a freelance journalist. She is working with BBC WM and worked for Asian Focus Media Group She is working with several charities and community organisations.
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