Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 reasons behind sexual violence in India

In the spirit of peace on earth, goodwill to men... errr, men and women... errr, people [OK. Ed.] Walt has tried to lay off the Indians and Muslims during this holiday season. However, the rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in New Delhi cannot pass unnoticed.

Sadly, rape is all too common in South Asia, not least because women are regarded in Hindu and Muslim societies as second-class citizens in every sense of the word. In India, "Eve-teasing" has existed for centuries. In the civilized world this "sport" would be called what it is -- sexual harassment.

The only thing surprising about this particular case is the severity of the attack. The victim has now died, turning the matter into a murder case. The Indian government promises that the trial of the 6 (yes, six) accused will be fast-tracked. In India that means they might appear before a judge before they die of old age. Or not. It's India, so no-one can say.

Olga Khazan and Rama Lakshmi of the Washington Post put together a list of ten reasons why India has a sexual violence problem. Walt has reversed their numbering, in the Letterman style, to put the most important reason at the end. Here's the list.

10. Few female police

9. Not enough police in general

8. Blaming provocative clothing

7. Acceptance of domestic violence

6. A lack of public safety

5. Stigmatizing the victim

4. Encouraging rape victims to compromise

3. A sluggish court system

2. Few convictions

1. Low status of women

Walt's experience of India is admittedly limited. But I have been there and have reason to believe the list is accurate. I knew about "Eve-teasing", for example, long before this week and know someone who was victimized in this way back in the 1980s.

And I heard a women's rights advocate interviewed on the CBC this week. She said a woman who goes to an Indian police station to report being raped is not unlikely to be assaulted again (especially if she is of a lower caste) by the police men.

We have a new agent -- hereinafter known as Agent 93 -- who contends that this problem is, if not unique, at least worse amongst "Indians in India" than amongst Indians in America, Britain or Canada. Maybe so, but even in the ABC countries at least half of the ten reasons given still obtain. The fight for justice for women is a long way from being won.

Further reading: Click here to read the post by Olga Khazan and Rama Lakshmi, with full explanations of all ten points.

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