India gang rape spurs national dialogue
An Indian woman who was the victim of a gang rape and brutal beating earlier this month in New Delhi has been flown to Singapore for treatment, while the rest of India debates women's safety.
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The outrage that this case has spurred might finally bring about a cultural change in India, Stephanie Nolen of The Globe and Mail suggests in a report:Skip to next paragraph
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Women assaulted leaving bars or late at night or while wearing Western clothes have been chastised by police, judges and politicians for bringing their misfortune on themselves. This time, however, there is a current of defiance in the protests, noted Subhashini Ali of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. A young woman in central Delhi on Tuesday carried a sign saying, “Stop telling me how to dress, start telling your sons not to rape.”
But rape is still not seen as a men’s issue, Ms. Ali said. “I don’t think many people are asking that question yet [of how men are being brought up and how it shapes their attitude toward rape].”
“But that’s where we have to go.”
And that should start with using sexual education in schools as a means to counter systemic patriarchal attitudes, writes Ketaki Chowkhani in Kafila, a collaborative blog that I work with.
That need for an emphasis on social change rather than law enforcement was also highlighted by Praveen Swami in The Hindu newspaper. India could learn a lot from the United States, he writes, where the incidence of rapes have fallen:
“The decline in rape in the U.S. has mainly come about not because policing has become god-like in its deterrent value, but because of hard political and cultural battles to teach men that when a woman says no, she means no.”
Meanwhile, the crackdown on the protests in Delhi has drawn sharp reactions and much anger across the Internet. On Facebook, graphic designer Sangeeta Das narrated her experience of the protests on Dec. 23, republished on the Kafila blog:
“There were many volunteers distributing biscuits and water to every protestor. We were talking ... on how to tackle the violence on women and children starting from ourselves, our homes, and communities. We were simply talking ... when the police, hundreds of them ... charged at us from behind, without any warning.”
Meanwhile, the media have drawn the government’s ire. On Sunday, the same day one journalist was killed in Manipur when police opened fire on protestors, the government issued an advisory to news channels to show “maturity and responsibility” in their coverage of protests:
No programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitude.