Changing Societal Norms
Something about this case—about the sense of impunity that cloaked the six men who allegedly lured her on to the bus, about this young woman from an impoverished village whose family poured their resources into helping her achieve her dreams, who was relishing life as a newly independent professional in a bustling city—has fixated the country and has women from every class and community in the capital talking about the often-violent, misogynist treatment they face. — Stephanie Nolen, Globe & Mail (January 11, 2013)
India has been cast in a harsh light the last few weeks, as the media has finally reported what has been known for long inside India. It's dangerous to be a woman in India. An article in the Globe & Mail highlights some of what ails India, including repressive societal norms, a weak judiciary and an unwillingness to see rape as a crime. Stephanie Nolen writes:
Dorothy Kamal’s first call of the week came on Wednesday night: A teenager, raped months ago by her family’s elderly tenant, turned up at a Delhi hospital miscarrying the pregnancy that resulted from the assault. Doctors called police, and the police in turn called Ms. Kamal, an advocate for survivors of sexual assault.
Ms. Kamal couldn’t head out on the case right away because the Delhi Commission for Women – which manages the rape crisis service – forbids counsellors from going out at night, lest they be attacked themselves. But come morning, she went to the young woman’s hospital bedside and explained how pressing rape charges works.
But the matronly Ms. Kamal is still not optimistic about the process, even as the police arrested six men within a day of their alleged roles in a gruesome rape and murder of a student. The police, the doctors who collect medical evidence and the legal system all stand ready to betray a woman, said Ms. Kamal, and the fight for justice can be just as hard as living through a rape.
“It’s safer for them to not report than it is to report – why would somebody want to go out and report if they will not be believed or they will be humiliated or simply told you are responsible for this or you are a woman of loose character?” said Anuja Gupta, who heads RAHI, a foundation supporting women assaulted by members of their family. The victims her team accompanies to police routinely hear all that and more, she said.
Blaming women for being raped is not only blatantly immoral but a tactic that aims to humiliate; it's out of the Dark Ages. It will solve nothing. Denying that that there is a serious malaise in India will not in any way make India safer for women. India and its leaders must do something serious to change societal norms, which will of course take time, if not a generation or two. For now, the courts must apply its laws against all perpetrators of rape, sending a clear unequivocal message to society that rape is a serious crime that will not go unpunished. India's women deserve at least that much.
You can read the rest of the article at [G&M]