The Tipping Point- India

All eyes are now on India as the aftermath of the brutal gang rape of a young Indian woman in New Delhi unfolds. Brutally gang rape and beaten, the young woman died as a result of the injuries she sustained, the most brutal of which included a ruptured intestine as her assailants raped her with an iron rod.When she was found and taken to the hospital, doctors said that only five percent of her intestines remained. Five percent, she was raped so brutally and with such unimaginable, sick, sadistic cruelty that her body was broken as well as hear mind.  A nightmarish tragedy for one woman, a  potential reality for many. That young woman could have been anyone, any woman you know in your life could have been that victim. Now, India faces the pressure to find justice for this woman, and the countless others that have been sexually abused and silenced. Living in the United States, we often forget how different things  are, two different worlds, and growing up in between them makes me even more aware of the challenges India faces in terms of women’s rights. In the United States, rape is still a frighting reality, yet victims usually are immediately assisted in an orderly manner, something we have come to expect from the American justice system. In India, the two victims that night waited 20 minutes to be taken to the hospital while the police argued over which precinct to register the crime. For those two victims, one of which lied heavily bleeding and teetering on the brink of death, those twenty minutes marked the fall of a justice system and solidified its views on the women that it had failed to protect. Reading this in the papers, it was hard for me to think of the country I love so much in so much pain, but it’s necessary. In culture in which many women, especially in rural areas, are undervalued and unrepresented, outrage and disgust has increased awareness about the dire need for strict  punishment in cases of rape. As the youth of India rebel, I can’t help but think about how interconnected the status of women and past cultural attitudes towards women have led to such crimes. Being a first generation Indian American, I have usually been sheltered from the outdated and sexist views towards Indian women, yet every once and a while bits of the past peak through and I question if anything has changed at all. Almost as enraging as the rape itself, the comments made by some have caused much controversy. From blaming the victim, the victims friend, her respectability, her faith in god, and even blaming Chow Mein (no I’m not kidding, such dumbasses do exist), some people dish out comments faster than they can think about the implications of their words. To see more ridiculous comments –

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/01/09/india-gang-rape-case-lawyer.html

http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2013/01/09/short-skirts-bad-stars-and-chow-mein-why-indias-women-get-raped/

It deeply upsets me that that a victim can be turned into the blamed in the eyes of many, but it doesn’t surprise me. Rape is a gruesome crime. You steal a woman’s right to a healthy life and leave scars that time cannot fully heal. Its inhumane and nightmarish to think of someone committing these crimes, and utterly terrifying. We’re deeply afraid of it, so many people think that if they can come up with a list of things to avoid, it will never happen to them or their loved ones. Statements like “She was raped because of the clothes she wears” translate into “so if you don’t wear those clothes, it wont happen to you”.”She must have done something to provoke them”  becomes “it couldn’t happen to just anyone.” But that’s not reality, people are raped regardless of what they wear, and like in this case, randomly. She was just a normal girl, she woke every day, smiled, studied, ate the same foods we loved, laughed, and never thought that this could happen to her. All these excuses attempt to resolve people of responsibility for what happened to her, but the truth is, we are all to some extent responsible. Simple sayings like “oh i raped that test” dismiss the severity of the word, and for some, the severity of the action. A culture that shames women for being raped, and that discourages women from reporting the crime for fear of familial shame will never progress. Speaking about this reminds me of stories from the Ramayana I heard when I was younger, after Sita (an Indian goddess) is rescued by Rama after being abducted by Ravana, she proves her chastity by surviving holy fire, yet her chastity is still questioned and the tale ends with Sita being enveloped back into the earth years later to escape from her saddened and betrayed existence.  Indian society still clings to this view of women, if a women is “unchaste” she is shamed. By admitting that she was raped, a woman in India opens the doors of ridicule, rejection, and shame and often bears the burden alone while her rapist walks free. To me, the definition of sex is relations between two consenting individuals, a woman has not consented to rape, so why is she punished?  Until our culture learns that a woman who has faced this should be supported not shamed, nothing will change and India will never reach its tipping point.

Photo belongs to Reuters Image

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