The cruelties towards women in India continue to present day. Today Mumbai Times report that the body of the 23-year-old female medical student was who was raped and savagely beaten on a bus in India has left the Singapore hospital where she died. The body will be sent to her home town to be cremated.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, were present to receive the body and spoke to family members who had been at her bedside in Singapore when she died The body was taken to the Mahavir Enclave, an area of the capital where she had lived, and on to a crematorium escorted by police and army.”
Though the Indian president was saddened by the rape and murder, the world still wonders how six men could rape and beat a woman and her male companion on a bus; leaving them naked on the road to die. The couple was beaten with iron bars. The whole ordeal lasted for 40 minutes. The young woman who has not been identified died of internal injuries. She died of a heart attack and organ failure.
“Her body's return to India was accompanied by widespread demonstrations and candlelight vigils.” The residents of the slum where four of the men resided told The Wall Street Journal they were angry and ashamed.
“The attack has prompted widespread calls for tougher sentencing for sexual crimes and violence against women, the hiring of more women police officers and a change in prevailing attitudes towards rape and "eve teasing", a common euphemism used in India to cover everything from making sexually suggestive remarks to sexual assault.” “It's not just one protest, it's accumulated rage over the way women are treated, raped and molested," Sharmishtha Mukherjee, the daughter of Pranab Mukherjee, India's President, said.” “Female protesters' demands include fast-track courts for rape cases, better conviction rates and a parliamentary review of laws on crimes against women.”
Rape and molestation are not the only crimes against women. This summer The Washington Post reported, “Acid attacks in India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have received widespread attention in recent years, with a documentary about victims in Pakistan winning an Oscar this year." Acid attacks are a “cheap and quick way of destroying a woman’s life,”
Burning women at the funeral pyre
“Although the practice of sati has been virtually non-existent elsewhere in India after the British banned it in 1829, about forty cases have taken place since India’s independence in 1947. Twenty-eight of these cases have occurred in Rajasthan, mainly around the Sikar district” Sati is described as the burning of the widow bride. Women may ask to be burned at the funeral pyre after the death of their husband, or they are forced. It is considered a virtuous thing to do. "In many areas of India and the Middle East in general, women are seen as property at best. This has created and will perpetuate a self-fulfilling prophesy; women will view themselves this way in… and never break free of the stigma placed upon them by the male-dominated culture.”
The other type of burning is bridal burning said to have descended from the ancient practice of sati. Young brides without sufficient dowries have been burned to death at the funeral pyre. “It is estimated that more than 7,000 women in India will be murdered by their families and in-laws in disputes over dowries
Discrimination against female children
Discrimination against girls are so strong in the Punjab state of India that those aged 2 to 4 die at twice the rate of boys.
Before even coming into the world girls are at risk. “Female Infanticide is a practice in India as well. More and more married couples have begun to view having a daughter as a curse. Thousands of baby girls are strangled shortly after birth each year, and many gender-based abortions are also performed. Eventually, this will cause the ratio of men to women to shift to extreme male-dominance as only boys will be allowed to live at large.”
Statistics from 2000 showed that on average a woman is raped every hour in India. This is a very conservative number due to the fact that victims are often reluctant to report rape.”
It is time for India to impose strict laws on rape and other crimes against women. The young medical student’s death should be the catalyst for change. The police have charged the five men with murder. One of the murderers was a juvenile. However, stricter laws alone will not stop the violence. India will have to go through a complete cultural change before many women can feel safe in that country.