Let’s not fool ourselves… there is a global war that’s being waged against women. The “war” that’s being fought against our moms and our sisters is not a war that involves assault rifles, grenades and bayonets, but rather it’s a war that’s meant to psychologically cripple a woman’s will to fight for equality, civil liberty and for self-respect.
Undeniably there are hundreds of millions of women worldwide who are losing personal and professional battles to gain complete control of their body, to go to school, to see their attackers convicted and jailed, to freely cast votes in elections and to rise to the top echelons of business and government.
My latest series, “What is a woman’s worth in a man’s world”? is a series of articles that’s dedicated to examining across the globe the many inequities / challenges that the average woman faces each day.
Today’s article reexamines the recent horrific rape and death of a young woman who was attacked by multiple assailants on a passenger bus in Delhi, India. The article also attempts to bring to light an escalating spike in violence against women in the world’s “largest democracy”.
For your information, the next issue of “What is a woman’s worth in a man’s world”? will address the question of why do Native American women suffer the highest rate of violence than any other comparable demographic in the United States, the answers may surprise you.
A bus full of hyenas
On December 16, 2012 in New Delhi, India, a 23 year-old woman and a male companion unsuspectingly board a city bus that will take them home; just having left a late night movie they are full of chatter and laughter. Oblivious to the danger that surrounds them, the young couple continues to talk without concern or worry. However cloaked in the semi-darkness of the bus there are six “hyenas” masquerading as human beings and they are watching the couple closely.
Sensing an opportunity “to have fun”, these six hoodlums begin to harass the young couple, within a few short minutes pandemonium erupts. To the shock and horror of the other bus passengers the 23 year-old-young lady is forcibly restrained by a couple of the assailants. She’s forced to watch her male friend beaten until he is rendered unconscious. Sadly, no one on the bus comes to their rescue.
Feeling confident that they are in control, the assailants turn their attention towards the horrified 23 year-old woman. Not only is she groped and brutally beaten, but she’s also mercilessly gang-raped by all six men. Before they throw her naked body off the bus (they discard her like a dirty tissue) they insert a steel rod inside her body, severely damaging her internal organs.
Twelve days later the tortured and physically broken 23 year-old physiology major succumbs to her internal injuries and she dies in a Singapore hospital that specializes in multi-organ transplants.
Although the alleged attackers are currently in jail pending trial, one must ask “what is the worth of a woman in India?” In India a woman is raped every 28 minutes. With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year.
According to 2011 police data, more than half (54.7%) of India’s rape victims were between the age of 18 and 30 years old. The most alarming statistic is 94% of the rape victims knew the rapist. Ranging from trusted neighbor to trusted family member, the rapist when tried and convicted in Indian courts, rarely receive a harsh prison sentence; leaving the rape victim to live a life of endless pain, shame and sorrow.
Rape is not the only violent crime against women in India. Police records from 2011 indicate that kidnappings and abductions of women are up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments are up by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and sex trafficking by an incredulous 122% over the previous year.
And what can only be considered barbarous by any civilized standard, it’s not unusual for Indian women who are at the center of dowry disputes, to be set on fire by either her husband or her in-laws. In a country of over 1billion people there were at least 100,000 known cases of women murdered by fire in 2011.
Every day in India there are tens of millions of women living with multiple threats that defy their very existence. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters and sisters live with the constant challenge of surviving in a “world” that’s completely dominated by men. For these women and their daughters, inequality, violence, poor diet, inadequate healthcare, and suffocating cultural taboos are the shackles that infinitely condemn them to a life of “third-class” citizen.
Currently in India there are six elected state legislators who have been accused of rape, so how can any Indian woman assert with confidence that Indian courts will judiciously enforce laws that prosecute all rapists? The answer is…they cannot.
Some say that it will take an “Arab-Spring” type of revolution that is led by Indian women and progressive Indian men to ultimately quell the violence that is being waged against women and girls in this ancient land, the question is, “will it take another gang-rape and murder to spark the flames of social change?”
When word was received in Delhi that the young lady died, thousands of Indian women poured into the streets around the country / world to protest the evil that occurred on a Delhi bus late at night on December 16th 2012. The angry women demanded justice and they demand justice now. It appears that the powder keg has finally been lit…and it’s only a matter of time before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is forced to acknowledge through legal action the anguish of his nation’s women.
As always the New Orleans Examiner is interested in what you think. Will change in the form of prosecuting rapists with lengthy prison terms come to fruition in India? Or is the Indian culture too dominated by men who have a long history of looking away from violence levied against women for change to come? Inquiring minds want to know. Sound off.