Monday, August 26, 2013

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? Another gang rape in India

***Disclaimer: I am not generalizing Indian society or talking about Indian men as a whole (y'all know I love husband-ji dearly). I am simply OUTRAGED at another gang-rape of an Indian woman and these are my thoughts.***


(Img via)

Only 8 months after the Delhi Rape case (which is still in court)...comes another high-profile gang-rape, this time in the safer city of Mumbai. Well, I guess safety goes out the window now. Looks like gang-raping is the new trend in India...? The statistics are out again...one rape every 20 minutes, large increases in violence towards women & children...

The victim was a 23 year old photojournalist who was on an assignment, with a male colleague (a male chaperone) and the attack happened in broad daylight. So, one is not safe with a male chaperone which is an Indian male, one is not safe in broad daylight, one should never go to any deserted places....maybe women are safer in the house like a caged bird??? Or else, go out... but be escorted by at least 5 males - provided they don't gang-rape you themselves, of course...

The goons accused ranged in age from 16 years - 27 years old - otherwise known as young men. The attack was premeditated as they had seen them photographing previously and had lured the couple, then phoned 3 more of their friends to join in on the action. The accused are said to have previous criminal offenses.

What strikes me about this - is that there is a generation of urban young men being raised that are so morally corrupt, so emotionally constipated - that the only way they can express themselves is through violence and forcing a woman into submission. Why should they feel the need to be entitled to another person's body? Why should they feel the need to victimize and overpower another human being? Why are these young men being taught that this is morally and socially acceptable? Why do these young men have such broken and angry hearts? Young men look up to their fathers' for guidance - they look up to their fathers to define masculinity, and what it is to be a man. Where are these young men's fathers? 2 of the men are said to have had no fathers. 3 of the men were from the slums (60% of Mumbai's residents live in slums), with limited education and no jobs.



Where the hell does this all come from??? WHY is this happening??? 
Why, India, why so much violence against women?
A few theories on the web are:

- objectifying women = dehumanizing women
- no sex education, sexual repression
- many men have limited interaction with women before they are married
- masculinity solely being based on forcing a woman into submission
- learned behaviors as children (witnessed in household and society)
- male entitlement that is raised from birth
- women are "inferior" = control over women
- eve-teasing is socially acceptable (people turn away instead of standing up - no fear against wrongdoing - whatever happened to good samaritans?)
- slow judicial system & cops known for corruption
- a society of victim blaming (respect is in the eye of the beholder)
- no sex offender registry/tracking of offenders (the accused were said to have had criminal records already / a history of violence)
-wide ranging discrimination against women in a patriarchal society (including rape, child abuse, domestic violence, imprisoning women, bride burning, arranged marriages, female infanticides, sexual violence, household slavery, dowry killings, female infant neglect) - and add that to the many other discriminations of caste, religious, ageist, skin color, "foreigners" (god forbid I bring that up, but it's true! Whether it be whites, Asians, Africans, etc)



The one thing I was really impressed by is the absolute efficiency of the Mumbai police who worked together to nab the suspects, some who had even fled to Delhi. Job well done in detective work. So even though this terrible thing happened, the police are using this case as an example that they are not taking this heinous crime lightly, thank god. However, the crime was committed in a place that was known to the police for organized crime - why is that place not being patrolled by police regularly? Young men should be afraid to commit these crimes, and also I was glad that the girl reported it despite being threatened, and it got media attention. I'm really glad that the media is spreading the message that rape is serious (but what about all the other girls?) Things are changing in India - the laws are getting stricter, people are recognizing this as a serious offense - but in my opinion, the attitudes must start by education within the home. Laws do not change behaviour and prevent people from hurting each other - families help change behaviour. However, that doesn't explain why there are some very evil people who come from excellent families...

I asked husband-ji about his opinion, and he thinks the problem lies in the group mentality and peer pressure - that no matter how good a person's upbringing is, they can get influenced by bad people. I said, "what about being a good samaritan, standing up against what is wrong?" He said, "if you stand up in India, you can face dire consequences and people are scared for their families" (lack of policing due to overpopulation?) If it is a group mentality, then why not be a positive group mentality - where kids can be good samaritans and help those in need, instead of attacking people with violence? (like India's red brigade)

My FIL however, thinks these perpetrators are mentally sick sociopaths, and especially with the recent news that the men are previous criminal offenders - he says that the problem strictly lies in the Indian judicial system and courts. If these guys have no fear of being caught, of course they are going to be arrogant to think they can commit these offenses, over and over again! He said that Indian politicians are notoriously corrupt and prone to victim-blaming themselves. He said that the law is so slow and that not many people want to come forward as witnesses and get dragged into a never-ending court saga, when the witness may not be able to afford to take off work (in Canada we get paid for jury-duty).

CNN discussion on the rise of gang-rapes in India


In this video, you can see a CNN reporter being surrounded by men and sexually harassed on camera - and even when I was watching it, victim-blaming thoughts ran through my mind (What is she wearing? Why is she out late at night? Where is her male chaperone to ward off these men? She is looking too sexy?) I caught myself thinking these things - am I also being conditioned to victim-blame? Am I also normalising the unacceptable behaviour that I have seen within Indian society?

 The video also offers an interesting discussion with author Sunny Hundal who has written a book on women in India being dishonoured. I found it interesting that he thinks the root of it is: putting women on a pedestal is basically like objectifying them and dehumanizing them, and in turn the man thinks that he has a right to say "how she should behave". That is in turn, is putting women into tight restrictive roles (revolving around men); the fact that many men do not have much interaction with women; and therefore do not respect a woman's personal boundaries. Another thing he mentioned was that nowadays there is such migration from small towns/villages to larger cities for job opportunities - he says the small town men might be shocked to see how much freedoms women in the cities have - because it is a fact that women in urban India have many more freedoms than ever before. The traditional India meets modern India...

All of our friends in Hyderabad have had love marriages, live separately from their parents, and actually all of the wives are making more money than their spouses. That might be a shock to see, for somebody who is coming from a village where there might be a Khap Panchyat, for example. But all the perpetrators of this crime were from urban areas...so what's the excuse then? That's why I think it has a lot to do with family upbringing - what they witnessed in their natal home - that combined with the dangerous group mentality, which I myself had witnessed before.

It has been a heavy week in Indian news, with the Mumbai gang-rape coming out right after Michaela Cross' CNN iReport. Anyone who has any connection to India, and especially women's rights groups, have been sickened by this news. What is the future for the safety of women in India???

Also check out this video panel on NDTV : "No place safe for women?"

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So, what do you think, dear readers? What is the root of all this? Where is this violence coming from? 

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5 comments

  1. What can even be said about gang-rapes, eve teasing, unsafe India, womens' rights and crushed dreams to even convey a minuscule portion of the gravity of these issues for women in India.
    The victim blaming by strong, educated Indian and foreign women is treachery in my eyes - WOMEN MUST ACCEPT THE SUFFERINGS OF OTHER WOMEN AS THEIR OWN AND BAND TOGETHER.
    It is not the role of men to save us, to rescue us, to let us play the damsel in distress roles - true supporters of women do not want to alone protect them BUT enable them to protect themselves.
    There is no excuse, NO EXCUSE, not clothes, location, ethnicity, company, age, or anything else people can think of to justify the rape, molestation, harassment or discrimination of women.
    This issue is deeply embedded within the culture, though some break free - MANY DO NOT.
    Though many know what is right and what is wrong according to their moral compass, they also live according to what they can get away with and justify according to the Indian moral compass - where womens' rights are often insignificant and negligible.
    These issues are present in the home, the order food is served, who helps clear the dishes, traditions like Rakhi (while Rakhi is not harmful in an environment where gender bias is minimal - it is when it reiterates the control of men over women), traditions like getting your daughter married off first as she is the burden, not giving your daughter the same opportunities as your son all stay in the minds of the children. These sumbliminal conditionings take place without parents realising, well meaning parents are teaching their daughters they are not worthy, they are not free, they do not have a voice.
    Families neeeeeeeed to change the way they raise daughters and the way they raise sons, they need to stop bitching about girls like possessions, daughters cooking round rotis like a trophy, sons behaving like kings as a norm, they need to empower women, give their daughters, their wives, their sisters freedom to live their life.
    WHAT is more shameful, being the brother of an independent woman who is raped or a dog that rapes a woman??? PLEASE INDIA DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND TAKE A REALITY CHECK.
    The issues discussed in the blogs being circulated cannot even touch on the commonality of these occurences, even I have been harassed at a friend's house when I was wearing a dress to the knee, harassed wearing a full length dress and when I respond to these people they put the blame on me. I responded to a man leering at me in the presence of his wife and children and his wife jumped to his defense as he sat quiet and full of guilt. I was harassed by a group of police when waiting outside a restaurant for my husband, followed in malls, shouted at by groups of men - these things happen, every damn day.... I cannot count the number of men that look me up and down like a prostitute but I WILL ALWAYS FIGHT BACK.
    In a region with a history of bold women, freedom fighters and legally quite progressive womens' rights - WHERE ARE THE LIONESSES? Where are the outraged, the fearful, the hopeful???
    We all know that Indians do not believe they can make change, they do not believe that they have the right to oppose the opinion of someone higher up on the food chain than them, we know that Indians do not air dirty laundry - especially not that of Mother India BUT how have these ideals served them??

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    1. I absolutely agree with every single word you have said x1000%. As an "outsider" looking in, I believe the root of the problem is within the natal home AND the lack of empathy that one conveys towards each other on the street, where countless women are getting blatantly harassed in public and everybody chooses to look away. Where is the sense of community? And that again relates back to the justice system.
      I myself have been guilty of "looking away" as I did at Ajanta/Ellora because none of the local people were stepping up, I was scared to.
      The same respect of athithi devo bhava needs to happen outside on the road, outside of the house.
      Even within our own extended family girls are seen as a burden and at times have to make a choice between studying abroad or being married off like a piece of furniture. My immediate family is different because of my inlaws - which is why I KNOW these attitudes start in the natal home and spread outwards.
      The problem with patriarchy is that it seldom works in a woman's favor - as there is nobody that looks out for women better than other women. Other women HAVE to step up, help with the solution, be empathetic, AND raise daughters and sons with equal confidence and respect.

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  2. Daughters who suffer in silence, men who prosper, families that are broken!!!!!
    Indians must defy the notion that they are raised with that I "must respect my elders", no they must question, they must understand, they must improve!!!!!!
    Why do people look to their parents' assets instead of building their own?? It is HIGH TIME for the strong, brave and forceful youth to come forward unabashed and proud to share their patriotism for India by saving India from this reality!!!!!
    Women should not be held to such a standard that they must be quiet, perfect, good cooks, early risers, hair in a plait, traditional in the home, kinky in the bedroom - WOMEN ARE GODDESSES, but they are not born to serve!!!!
    Recently what have I seen??? A friend shot dead by her in laws with a 4ft rifle, police did not care to see her story - announced suicide. Countless women raped, kidnapped, slapped, beaten, murdered, denied rights, scared to go forward because of SHAME or rape by police, women being sent back to abusive husbands, being beggars in their own homes!! Just today, a man in our lane committed suicide leaving a widow and two daughters - now these women will suffer a fate of uncertainty, if this woman is rejected by her in laws, her own parents may ask her to remarry and her own daughters may be abandoned. WHYYYY?
    WHYYYYYYYY??? Please women of today, of India, of abroad find your fighting spirit - if you have nothing to live for you sure as hell better have something to die for!!!! Bad things happen when good people do nothing!!!!
    Be the change, one person can make a difference, think of our mothers, sisters, daughters - the women who suffer when they should not, the women that go from queens in their parents' home to servants in their in laws'!!!
    From woman comes the king, women is everything and let the jewels of our nation shine!!!!!!!!!!!
    Do not be sad for daughters, but proud!!!!!!!
    I say this all as a lover of India, as a resident of India, as someone identifying with Indians and proud of our 'rich and varied heritage'... I have been in schools, in the community, I see great people, I see opportunity for improvement for progression.
    I want Mata Bharat to shine, I want Indian women to be the kohinoor diamonds of the nation.
    Women do not need your help, they need your support, they need your love - just as men need the same. Do not underestimate the power of women.
    Women band together, do not judge, do not critize, you are making matters worse!! Think of Indian women as your sisters and protect them fiercely, defend their honour and support them!!!! Do not defend men who do wrong, be it your son, your brother, your father or your husband!!!!! Do not do for one what you cannot do for all!!! Fight for swift action and put safety before HONOUR. Honour is valueless in a society known for rape, for beatings, domestic violence and death!!!!! Make India great and find your honour and pride in her!!
    Jai hind!!

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There are no words. As the mother of a daughter I ABSOLUTELY agree.

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  3. Alexandra the issues which perplex you agonize all of us yet it does not stop...your FIL hit it on the head...these scoundrels had done it before & were still roaming free,it would be naive to think that they would have a change of heart.
    All these happenings propelled me to write the following post looking for answers,do go through it
    http://jeeteraho.blogspot.in/2013/08/curbing-crime.html

    ReplyDelete

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