- Posted December 30, 2012 by
san diego, California
Delhi gang rape victim dies: India does care about its women
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
It took the brutal rape of a 23 year old girl to wake a nation up. India has always been a sleeping giant. And it does take it a lot to wake it up. The rape woke up a city that has, for long, been known as the rape capital of the country; Delhi - where one in four rapes in the country occurs.
People not just took to the streets, protesting against the inert government and law enforcement, but to Social media. There were a few troubling trends on the latter that caught my attention. The first was blaming India and Indian culture for the rape. It was not just the social bloggers, but even reputed national newspapers that started reporting the incident under eye-catching headlines that insinuated a country that did not care for its women.
The second trend was the clubbing of two disparate issues - rapes of women and female infanticide - to heighten the effect and give the average reader the impression that the average Indian does not care for its women, either in the womb or outside. Well, firstly, let's break it up a bit. Rapes are crimes of opportunity of the sexually repressed cross-section. Infanticide is an act of desperation, especially amongst the poorer sectors of the Indian cross-section. The two crimes could barely be clubbed together to give the impression that the Indian man couldn't care less for his female counterpart. I'm not trying to belittle either crime. Both are committed by a sector of people on the fringe of being psychopaths. After all, a normal human being when presented an opportunity to rape a woman, or presented the desperation to rid oneself of a feminine financial burden, would choose a nobler option.
My issue is with trying to paint all Indians are being callous towards its women. Firstly, let's get some statistics. How many rapes take place in America? The country where the laws against such crimes are stringent. The country where respect for the fairer sex has gone beyond just the struggle for gender equality. Shouldn't the number of rapes in America be less than India, given the fact that it's major news channel reported that Indians lacked respect for the rights of its women.
Well, in fact, the number of sexual crimes in America is over 200,000 per year. Every 2 mins, someone is raped in America. 1 out of every 7 women currently in college has been raped - however, 9 out of 10 women raped on campus never tell anyone about the rape. The United States has the world’s highest rape rate of all countries that publish such data - 13 times higher than England and more than 20 times higher than Japan. In fact, America is not just the rape capital of the world when it comes to women, it's also the place where more men are raped than anywhere else. 1 in 10 men is raped in his lifetime in America.
Well, given that India has only a tiny fraction of annual rapes as the 200,000 American statistic, the average western sympathizer would rationalize that the 20,000 odd rapes reported in India would be much higher if not for the fact that most rapes in the country are not reported. Well, here's another statistic. More than 60-70% of rapes in America are not reported either. The universal truth about rape is that it's a crime of shame. And shame is universal.
The fact about India is that for centuries, it protected its women against such crimes by hiding its women behind strict rules of personal fashion and even stricter traditions. In the age of cable television and social media, India has raced ahead of itself in aping the west, and the protection of society temporarily dropped. And now, urban Indians look, as the west does, to its laws and policing to protect its women. And what we're seeing is clash of those opposing cultures - the protection by society (which India has followed for centuries) and the protection by law enforcement (which India never had a history of).
Eventually, it's my belief that it's the people of India who will win this war. Name another country where its people came out in throngs looking for justice for a rape. In America, there is a rape every 2 mins, but has there ever been an uprising for any of its victims. So how dare people say we don't care for our women. The fact is we care more than anywhere in the world. And that's why more men are getting water-cannoned, protesting in front of the Indian political buildings, for the safety of their women.
For the first time in India’s history, we’re realizing that we cannot protect our women by hiding them behind tradition and values. Until ten or twenty years ago, women walked on the streets, usually accompanied by others, dressed in a modest saree or salwar kameez. Today, women are required, by the nature of their work or by modern values, to walk alone often and dress in revealing clothes , by Indian standards. It’s a truth we have to accept and move on. In this environment, we need, as the west did many centuries ago, a stricter law-enforcement, as more and more Indian women seek a world outside of tradition. And it’s simply because tradition and the need for law enforcement have always been inversely proportional. As we dip in our traditional values, we do need the law-enforcement to be upped. But law-enforcement can only do so much. They can’t be at every street corner, every minute of the day. The inefficacy of law enforcement being able to curb such acts can be seen in America, as I pointed out previously. What is also needed is an increase in common sense. Dress according to the situation. Try not to walk alone whenever possible (take an accomplice with you). Try not to go to places where you’re not supposed to go. These will go a long way in avoiding such crimes.
But coming back to my point, the ground reality we are seeing in the Delhi protests proves that the Indian people have always stood behind the safety of their women, and hopefully they’ll continue to do so, as we stand at the cross-roads of tradition and modernity.
In conclusion, my heartfelt thoughts go to the victim of the Delhi rape. I hope that her legacy lives on and brings about the change that is needed both in Indian common sense and in law-enforcement.
Siddharth Katragadda is the author of two award-winning volumes of poetry. He's also an acclaimed artist. and filmmaker. www.siddharthfilms.com