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India Ending India’s Culture Of Silence On Rape

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Ending India’s culture of silence on rape

By Haroon Siddiqui Editorial Page - The Star, Toronto - Januatry 16, 2013

NEW DELHI—India’s first {censored} Walk was held here last summer. In keeping with the spirit of the movement — which originated in Toronto after a cop told York University students that they could avoid sexual harassment by not dressing like sluts — local organizers billed it as Besharmi Morcha, Hindi for “Shameless Front.”

They were derided as fashionable middle-class feminists out of touch with the reality of tens of millions of women who get poked and prodded and raped every day, even while observing all the Indian cultural norms of feminine modesty.

This shocking reality has, finally, impaled itself on the national consciousness following the Dec. 31 death of a 23-year-old woman from a brutal rape by six men in a moving bus that she and her fiancé had boarded after an evening out to see Life of Pi.

She personified the new India of men and women escaping centuries of poverty and preassigned stations of life by caste and creed.

She — her identity shielded by law — came to Delhi from a village. Her parents “ate roti (flat bread) and salt” to get by, so she could get an education. She became a physiotherapist. Avoiding arranged marriage, she chose her partner, a 28-year-old software engineer she was to marry in the spring.

Her tormentors represented the other India of widespread misogyny, even as the country has had a woman president, prime minister and several premiers, and has a woman heading the ruling Congress party.

Millions of rural men have migrated to the cities for a living, swelling New Delhi, for example, to 20 million. Bachelor societies permeate slums, from whence came the six culprits, some of them drunk.

But violence against women knows no bounds of income or geography, in India as elsewhere.

There’s one rape reported every 22 minutes in the country — 24,000 a year. That’s a gross underestimate. Experts say that only 1 in 10 cases is reported — for reasons of “shame,” individual and family “honour,” or the futility of turning to uncaring doctors and cops and dysfunctional courts. Delhi courts produced one conviction all of last year.

The culture of impunity is such that in the 2009 federal election, political parties fielded 40 candidates who had been charged with rape or other crimes against women. “There’s a culture in our country that justifies rape, that defends the act,” said Kavita Krishnan, a women’s activist.

Bollywood movies glorify rape.

The National Crime Records Bureau says 94 per cent of rapists are known to the victims — family members, friends, co-workers. “The Indian family hides terrible secrets,” wrote Samar Halarnkar, a Bangalore-based journalist.

“Women are so oppressed that they themselves turn oppressors. The vast majority are brought up in subservience. They, in turn, ensure that their daughters remain subservient and aware of their secondary role in life. When their own men turn sexual predator, many mothers tend to ignore or somehow justify such predation.”

Author Arundhati Roy also noted that in many parts of the country, rape remains “a matter of feudal entitlement.”

Then there’s the national preference for a male child. About 1,000 female fetuses are aborted every day, an estimated 12 million in the last 30 years. This has led to the skewed demography of about 900 women for every 1,000 men, second only to China’s 833.

Female feticide is more prevalent among the educated and rich than the illiterate poor who see sons as insurance for old age and dread daughters for whom they have to raise marriage dowries. “Dowry deaths,” murdering women who didn’t bring the loot, go on.

Domestic violence remains far too prevalent, as is the daily harassment of women, quaintly called “Eve teasing.”

A 2001 UN report on women ranked India 134th out of 187 countries, behind Saudi Arabia and China. This in a country destined to surpass the economy of Britain by 2017.

Since the death of the rape victim, newspapers have been ferreting out other such horror stories. Here are headlines from one newspaper on one day: “Woman stalked; commits suicide.” “Raped 16-year-old attempts suicide.” “Minor groped, another sodomized.” “Man gets 7-year jail for raping minor.”

On other days: “Six-year-old raped, killed.” “Fifteen-year-old gang-raped, another set on fire.” “Female guard molested in bus.” “Woman molested on beach.” “Woman gang-raped, chopped to death.” “Woman drugged, gang-raped.”

The case has also highlighted government incompetence and indifference. And the complete disconnect between the aging ruling class and the emerging young India, as well as between the culture of silence and the long overdue demand for gender equity.

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star’s editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears on Thursday and Sunday. hsiddiqui@thestar.ca

source: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/edit...qui-ending-india-s-culture-of-silence-on-rape


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
There were many things i wanted to say in reply. Then changed my mind. A culture of misogyny - i.e., disregard for the value of women buried deep within the soul of a culture - is a fearsome truth, and one that is hard to change. And when the article talked about new skies, new horizons, new truths in a young India things started to seem better. Then I read this at another web site:

It is an article about financial planning using a financial instrument called a Hindu Undivided Family Account or HUF. This paragraph can only add to our skepticism about new realities anytime soon.

Q: Can women start a separate account on their own?

A: No, in your husbands HUF, he will be the Karta and you will be the co-partner in that HUF. So, whatever additional income you are earning will be separate entity, it will not be clubbed. It will not be clubbed with your husband’s income, neither with your income, it will be separate entity. So it will be your husband, you and the additional third person that is child.


A woman's separate income cannot be "clubbed" to any advantage that she might want. And, what about a woman who is single, a widow, divorced, or a woman with responsibility for the children of a dead brother? Why not a woman as the "Karta" and the husband a co-partner? Are these ideas still off the radar screen? The HUF sounds like an interesting way to shelter income from taxation. The image of the society that it aims to serve is an image of a man. A woman can be part of the picture, but only as a "co." What if there is no man in the picture? Where does that question take us?

My point. As long as women are seen as "co's" a mentality of servitude will continue and nothing will change.
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Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
And thats one reason why SIKHS have been fighting the past 60 years to be classified SEPARATELY form HINDUS and be disassociated form HINDU Family Laws etc which badly maul the SikH family and Gurmatt Value system. The HINDU ACT has been enforced in Punjab on SIKHS since Independence.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
The Video is a Clarion Call upon the INDIAN WOMAN to GET UP and stand on her two feet and take her destiny in her hand..... a Call that GURU NANAK JI Sahib gave and was reaffirmed by GURU Amardass Ji when He banned the VEIL and SATTEE in Sikhism...ALL SIKH women were encouraged to attend the Gurus Darbar with uncovered faces. The VEIL enforced ONLY ON WOMEN is a sign of Man's oppression and dominance.:sippingcoffee:

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