The tragic attack on a 23 year old woman who was savagely beaten and raped by a group of men on a Delhi bus, on December 16th last year, has filled many with justified revulsion. Millions of people have now seen the dreadful violent attacks that plague women in India, and some have called out for severe punishments for the gang of rapists. This was a young bright woman who was a paramedic student, with her entire life ahead, and she was raped, brutalised, and subsequently killed.
India must address the mistreatment and abuse of women, which seems to be a particular problem in Delhi and elsewhere in northern India. Reports show that if you are a woman and you are not wealthy and privileged you are much more likely to face humiliation and the indignity of verbal and physical abuse. Why should this be the case? Is it a particular social mindset, or disregard for the law, or a police force devoid of sensitivity? There may be many complex reasons, but from this travesty India must start to respect their womenfolk and to bring about substantial change in educating men about violence. Both the government and lawmakers must make changes to bring those guilty of such horrible crimes quickly to account!
The rate of convictions for rape and other crimes against woman are presently painfully low, out of 635 cases of rape reported in Delhi last year, only one led to a conviction.
Out of 635 cases of rape reported in Delhi last year, only one led to a conviction.
Changing centuries of customs and a legal system in need of reform will not happen overnight. Remember that sexual violence exists in many other countries and it took decades of work by lawmakers and social activists to bring about modifications. This shows the pressures on India trying to reach acceptable standards of behaviour towards women while sections of the population’s mind set struggle to overcome centuries of indoctrination where women are seen as a chattel to be used and then cast aside. Reaction in Delhi has been one of universal condemnation since the tragedy unfolded, and the world’s press has been equally critical.
The disgrace of violence against women simply shows that the world’s largest democracy has some common ground with women living in fear of violence and living under restrictions not dissimilar to those perpetrated by the Taliban! But there are other possible aggregating factors: We should not forget the importance of Bollywood and popular media as an influence, Bollywood is outlined on the Reuter’s website in an article ‘Responsibility or censorship: why Bollywood should pick’ after many films show violent scenes towards women. Arguably a celebrity obsessed culture can’t underestimate the power of the popular cinema and therefore, responsible film-making could help make a change for the better.
I felt moved listening to the interview in which the male companion of the raped victim explained his own savage beating, and his distress at how long it took the police to arrive to take the critically injured woman to hospital. It seems the police argued as to whose responsibility it was to arrange emergency transport to hospital; it is truly a heartbreaking account.
This young woman’s horrific ordeal has been, and will continue to be the catalyst for changes in the law and how that law is implemented. Let us hope that we see many more female police officers and changes in the police who have to deal with crimes borne of ignorance and corruption which goes right to the highest level.
If India wants to be fully accepted into a modern democratic world, then changes are needed quickly on this matter. With violent rapes reported to be occurring every 21 minutes, these changes cannot arrive quickly enough.