Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Mid-Week Reads: Rape Culture in India

This space is for recreation, for a lunch break of reading while you go about your lives. But not this time. After what's been happening in India, and what's on all of our minds, I couldn't just go put together a bunch of light reads. But here are the pieces and rants I liked best about the horrific rape of the young woman and her subsequent death, and about the society that enables it.

Notes from Raisina Hill:
Many say it is their first protest, but “this time was too much”. The women spill over with articulate indignation about how tired they are of being targets of violence—not free in the streets, not free at home, says one. The men talk about how they don’t want to be seen in the same light as rapists; one young student talks about how helpless he feels when his women friends/ relatives are targeted.
The third tear-gassing is equally unwarranted: the police open up the barricades, leaving a tempting gap, and when protestors start to move in (and therefore technically towards Rashtrapati Bhavan), out come the cannons again and the teargas shells. But though the crowds disperse, they keep coming back... “Stones are being thrown at the police,” one over-excited reporter says, and he has it wrong. What some of the protestors were throwing were coins, taunting the police: you don’t do your job well enough to keep us safe, perhaps you will if we bribe you.  
At the heart of Delhi, there's no space for you.
They wanted safer streets. They wanted the police, and their parents, to stop telling them what to wear, when to go out, which friends they should be with, how to behave. Many of the young men wanted no part of a system—a system they recognized clearly, though they didn’t call it “patriarchy”—that took in boys and men, and spat them out the other end as rapists and abusers. The girls and young women out there wanted, as many banners said, respect and freedom, not protection; they really, really wanted to be treated equally.
I should just link to Nilanjana Roy's entire blog, but anyway... read Talking Rape.
Most rapists know the women they have chosen to rape. What the NCRB statistics say, with stunning clarity, is that the average rapist is someone who is considered family, or a friend, or a neighbour, or a close acquaintance. Rape by complete strangers accounts for less than 9 per cent of all reported cases. The monster, the beast, the brute in the remaining 90 per cent of reported cases of rape across India: he’s familiar, one of us.

The problem is us. I'm not excerpting this -- read the whole thing.

Don't let this death be in vain, here's what we can and must do.
In your heart, you already know who should shoulder the blame. We failed her, collectively as a civilized society, didn't we?
For anonymous:
I don’t need to know her name now, especially if her family doesn’t want to share their lives and their grief with us. I think of all the other anonymous women whose stories don’t make it to the front pages, when I think of this woman; I think of the courage that is forced on them, the way their lives are warped in a different direction from the one they had meant to take. Don’t tell me her name; I don’t need to know it, to cry for her.
Here are photos of the protests.

Make sure to watch this video of AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan demanding justice. My comments on Twitter below.

And lastly, here are suggestions on how you can volunteer with organizations working against violence against women or helping women affected by violence.

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