News / Asia

    India Rape Case Ignites Awareness of Women’s Issues

    A boy places a candle as demonstrators hold placards during a candlelight march for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi, January 16, 2013.
    A boy places a candle as demonstrators hold placards during a candlelight march for a gang rape victim, who was assaulted in New Delhi, January 16, 2013.
    Anjana Pasricha
    One month after the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, there is a new awareness about sexual violence against women in India and a growing debate about women's rights. Widespread protests by young Indians have turned the spotlight on discrimination that women face in the country.     
     
    As protests in New Delhi carried on for days following the brutal gang rape of a physiotherapy student last month, many people were surprised by the massive public clamor.

    Young, urban, educated, middle-class Indians demanded not just stringent punishment for the guilty, but also a change in how women are treated in India. And, they publicized an issue that has seldom made news: sexual violence against women.  
        
    Brutal Gang Rape Shocks India

    2012
    • December 16: Victim is gang-raped and beaten on a bus in New Delhi
    • December 20: Protests intensify and spread
    • December 29: Victim dies in Singapore hospital

    2013
    • January 2: Five suspects charged with rape and murder
    • January 17: Case against five suspects sent to special fast-track court
    • January 23: Government panel calls for new sexual assault laws
    • January 28: Panel rules sixth suspect will be tried as a juvenile
    • February 2: The five accused being tried in the fast-track court plead not guilty
    • March 11: Indian police say one of the suspects killed himself in jail
    • August 31: Juvenile suspect found guilty
    • September 10: Remaining four suspects found guilty
    Ranjana Kumari, who heads New Delhi’s Center for Social Research, said the anger expressed by young people is unprecedented.  
     
    “Whenever crisis like this happened or crime, we have never seen other people in society coming forward, in fact only women’s groups and organizations, so far, have been screaming on top of their voices to do something and ask for justice," said Kumari.

    She said, "Today, this cry for justice has gone across to everyone, everybody is totally moved, motivated and hopefully this kind of social outcry will continue. So, I am very hopeful that the baton has been given over to young people.”

    Sexual violence is a problem across rural and urban India. Rape is seldom reported in villages because of the social stigmatism of such violence. Even in relatively modern cities, outmoded attitudes continue.  Many blame sexual harassment on the influence of "Westernization" on traditional Indian culture. Hence, there are voices that often call on women to dress modestly or not stay out late to avoid becoming victims of crime such as rape.  
     
    • Sand artist Raj Kapoor holds a candle near a sculpture at the Sangam to pay tribute to a gang rape victim who died early Saturday, in Allahabad, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • An Indian ties a black band as he arrives to attend a gathering to mourn the death of a 23-year-old gang rape victim, in Mumbai, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • An Indian woman shouts at a police officer during a gathering of people to mourn the death of the 23-year-old gang rape victim in Mumbai, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • Indian women participate in a candle-lit vigil in New Delhi to mourn the death of a gang rape victim, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • A demonstrator shouts slogans during a protest in New Delhi, December 29, 2012.
    • Indian men and women lie down on the ground mimicking dead bodies as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • Indians gather next to a makeshift memorial to mourn the death of a 23-year-old gang rape victim, in Bangalore, India , Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • A man participates in a candle-lit vigil to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • An Indian woman holds a placard as she joins others in a protest to mourn the death of the 23-year-old gang rape victim, in Bangalore, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • People walk near a sand sculpture with the words "We Want Justice" created by Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik, in solidarity with a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi, on a beach in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, December 29, 2012.
    • Indian women participate in a candle-lit vigil to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.
    • A girl holds a placard as she takes part in a protest rally in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, December 29, 2012.
    ​Last month's gang rape may be hardening such attitudes. Several village councils have banned girls from using mobile phones or dancing at weddings. In Delhi, police have advised women to go straight home from their college classrooms, provoking an outcry.

    But an urban, educated middle class is leading the demand for a change in mindset toward women and their safety. Some said women wearing short skirts, shorts or midis are often stared at,and that women do not feel safe in New Delhi. Others said this type of attire provokes men. And there were those who said men and the mindset that puts them above women need to change.
     
    Sexual violence is not the only concern. Women face widespread discrimination. Young girls are often given less food and less education than young boys. A preference for sons over daughters has led to a skewed gender ratio because of the practice of aborting the fetus of a girl child.  
     
    Ranjana Kumari said violence targeting women is a problem because social attitudes remain outmoded in much of the country. She added that "there  is a lot of violence at home. Every third woman reports violence according to Indian Family Health Survey."

    ​"We have a mentality which in some way or the other is trying to control women, targeting women," she said. "The correction has to start from family and society. Women have to be given the respect and their dignity has to be honored and that is the only way by changing social mindset we can control crime.”  
     
    Sociologists said recent street protests were not just about the brutal gang rape. They said they also reflect growing frustration and anger in a country where a huge, educated middle class has emerged, but governance remains poor, police are insensitive and a slow legal system often results in delayed justice.     
     
    Sociologist Dipankar Gupta in New Delhi said the rape was an inflection point.  “The rape acted as a kind of tipping point," he said. "It was on top of a lot of grievances accumulating over the years. In my view, what happened on that fateful night, just precipitated matters."

    "There is a gradual alienation which has more or less solidified between the so-called political class and rest. You don't have an organized movement, what you really have is an inarticulate cry of the people who don’t know which way to go,” he said. 
     
    For now, that cry is focused on the issue of rape and sexual violence. Throughout the country, cases that rarely received front-page coverage in the news are getting more attention. But activists warn there is a long path ahead before there is any real change in attitudes toward women.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: david from: USA
    January 18, 2013 6:13 AM
    These women need to free themselves from the aseptically men of India, the young and beautiful come to the USA we will love and protect all of you.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora