- Posted August 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
Women's Security and Corruption -"The Full Story "
NEXUS OF CORRUPTION, CRIME AND SEXUAL HARRASSMENT IN INDIA: 'The Full Story You Need to Hear'
"India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear." is a painful account posted on CNN iReport, ofthe Sexual harassment experienced by Michaela Cross, an American student at the University ofChicago, during her study abroad trip to India last year, during which she says she experienced ongoing sexual harassment. After coming back to the US, Michaela tells us that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is now on a mental leave of absence from theschool.
Michaela’s story has caught the attention of the world with 800,000 page views as of Wednesday morning and a variety of responses from Indian readers- some feeling sympathy for her plight that is also shared by millions of native Indian women on the streets of India, and others asking the world to refrain from making generalizations about India or its people.
In December, world attention was transfixed on the deadly gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi which happened a few days after Cross left India. Protests erupted in cities across India by the common people coming out on the streets, demanding tougher laws for crimes against women and solutions to police inaction in such cases. The intensity of these protests echoed the protests against corruption and the demand for an anti-corruption legislation (Janlokpal Bill) led by Anna Hazare and his team under the banner of ‘India against Corruption’.a year before. Millions of Indians had come out on the streets demanding change.
These protests had forced the government to promise to bring into law the anti-corruption bill but had later reneged on this promise. The Janlokpal Bill has yet to be passed.The country has continued to see several shocking cases of rape and sexual violence against women since then.
Many brutal rape cases of little girls as young as 4-5 years of age were brought to world attention. In April, Delhi witnessed the gang rape of a 5 year old who was kept captive, raped and subjected to the most heinous torture. Far from getting justice for the victims against the perpetrators, the police themselves harass the victims and their supporters. In the case of the 5 year old victim mentioned earlier, it was only under pressure from common citizens,volunteers of the recently launched AAM AADMI PARTY (Common Man’s Party) that the Delhi police finally registered the case and shifted her to a better hospital, that eventually saved her life. While the current Chief Minister of Delhi Mrs. Sheila Dixit who has been in power for over 12 years said that she was helpless to do anything as the Delhi police did not report to her, the common people of India launched a protest and got her the support she needed.
In December 2012, under pressure from the people of the country, the Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the criminal law to provide quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of sexual assault against women. The Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013. However most of the substantive recommendations of this committee were not adopted by the government.
The fact that these reprehensible acts of violence are happening in India with alarming and growing frequency is only part of the story. The full story that needs to be told is the nexus of corruption, crime and sexual harassment of women. The root cause is the unprecedented level of corruption in the Indian administration and the unbelievable number of criminals in positions of power.
India may be called the largest democracy in the world, but it has failed to give accountable governance to the people. This has led to a breakdown of law and order.
Every citizen in India knows that the existing system has failed to provide security to women,and criminals have no fear of the law. Why should they, when India’s parliament itself has become the refuge of criminals. Currently, there are over 160 members of parliament in India with serious charges of murder, extortion and rape. Recently the Supreme Court brought a ruling to bar people with criminal charges from parliament. What did the existing political parties do?
They banded together to quickly oppose, challenge and try to scuttle this judgment. The citizens of India have no hope left from the current administration to improve the state of affairs and have decided to take matters into their own hands. They have banded together in their quest for clean politics and accountable administration under the banner of the AAM AADMI PARTY (Common Man’s Party ) launched in November, 2012, whose election symbol is the “Jhadu” or broom symbolizing the cleansing of the corrupt system. The vision of this people’s party is true “Swaraj” (as conceptualized by Mahatma Gandhi) or what we call participatory democracy, where citizens have a say in policies that govern them.
The AAM AADMI PARTY will make their political debut in the Assembly elections in Delhi in November 2013. While other political parties are opposing the supreme court’s decision to put political parties under the scanner of the RTI or Right to Information Act that allows public documents to be accessible to the citizens, AAM AADMI PARTY has made itself open to RTI.
From careful screening to keep out anyone with a corrupt or criminal background, to complete financial transparency (including publishing lists of names of their donors on their website), this party is setting standards of accountability and transparency that is a tough act to follow for any other political party in India. Recently the New York Times ran a story about the Aam Aadmi party and its leader Mr, Kejriwal and said: “If virtue alone were to decide elections in India, the two major parties in Delhi, the governing Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya JanataParty, would not stand a chance against Mr. Kejriwal.
This valiant effort of the common people of India to rise up and assume the responsibility of cleaning a powerful and corrupt system against insurmountable odds and ensure accountable governance, law and order and most importantly security for women is the other half of the story that needs to be told.
Shalini Gupta who lives in Chicago Illinois. Shalini’s daughter is also a student at the University of Chicago. Shalini is invested in ensuring the safety and security of women across the world and supports the efforts of the Aam Aadmi party to bring clean and accountable governance to India. For more information on the Aam Aadmi Party of India you can visit their website at