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India Gang-Rape Deepens Concerns Over Women's Safety


Society & Culture  (tags: world, women, violence, society, safety, news, India, ethics, culture, humans, environment, education, politics )

Cal
- 332 days ago - csmonitor.com
The brutal rape in Mumbai was the latest in a number of vicious crimes against women that have battered India's image.



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Comments

Allan Yorkowitz (452)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 9:35 am
If nothing else, I'm glad to read these is moral outrage. These are not not the principles India was founded.
 

Gene Jacobson (244)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 10:40 am
"A travel industry survey found that the number of foreign female tourists coming to India during the first three months of 2013 fell by 35 percent after the December rape, reports the Los Angeles Times."

Another one? Well, this is one way to get authorities to understand their "local" issues attract much wider attention in these times of a global society. Supposedly the safest city in India for women? Small comfort that must be. The thing is this despicable crime is so prevalent everywhere in the world and the numbers we know about so astonishing, and we know most are never reported nor counted, that one wonders just how it can still be so common after 6000 years of recorded history. How half the worlds population must walk in fear of every dark alley and know they are not safe even in their own homes. Of all the crimes humans commit this is one that could be eradicated if the male half of the population came to see women as equal, as people not property and in that sense I don't mean just in countries where culture or religion says so, but even here in the "civilized" United States, men feel free to use their superior size and savagery to abuse their significant others, complete strangers, women and children at will. We are so very far from civilized, even non human animals behave better than this. This is a crime not punished severely enough, our republicans don't want a raped woman to be allowed to abort if she becomes pregnant and yet we pretend we care about human rights. Women are human, people. And they do have rights. Long past time we started acting as if we believed that and dealt with these despicable men accordingly.
 

lee e. (114)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 11:52 am
Sadly noted - thanks for the post.
 

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 12:44 pm
India is responsible for failng to protect women, and must take action to put an end to these horredous crimes.
Perhaps, a significant drop in tourism will spur the government to take action. Thank you for the news, (n, p, t )
 

Susanne R. (249)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 3:02 pm
They were able to catch one of the rapists --which means that the other four can be identified. Rapists need to be deterred by facing serious consequences. Castration and a life sentence in one of India's worst prisons, with the highest incidence of sex crimes, comes to mind. Only by experiencing rape themselves and then having to live in constant fear of experiencing it again will these men learn how painful and demeaning rape is.
 

Carol D. (104)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 3:13 pm
Whats wrong with all the men out there India does not do enough to stop this Threaten all men in the future that do this with castration if they are caught That might deter them
 

Alice C. (1797)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 4:17 pm
Gang rapes are every state in the good ole USA.
Many women are not safe while attending college.
Many women are not safe at their jobs.
Many are not safe while shopping.
Many are not safe in their own homes.
 

Alice C. (1797)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 4:18 pm
Thanks for this post Cal
 

GGmaSheila D. (132)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 4:27 pm
What's the relationship of these crimes against women and India's women registering and voting...Sounds much like what the GOP/TP has been doing to American women, just different methods. Noted with thanks.
 

A F. (129)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 4:38 pm
Rape culture must be stopped. It has gone on for far too long. It is everywhere. Thank you for helping to educate/inform about the issue. The time has come for people to stand up against this deplorable, all-too-common practice.
 

Sue Matheson (69)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 7:01 pm
thanks
 

Veronica C. (42)
Saturday August 24, 2013, 7:28 pm
They should have been deeply concerned a LONG time ago!
 

Alfred Donovan (44)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 1:10 am
Sadly India is not the only country where this crime is committed.We read recently of the two women journalists covering the Egyptian protests in Tarir Square in Cairo were gang raped in front of hundreds of Morsi supporters.
 

John S. (297)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 4:14 am
Sad that the increase is due to better reporting.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 6:58 am
This seems to be an endemic problem in the country. How frightening it must be for women to live there.
 

Peggy A. (0)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 7:58 am
Sadly noted.
 

Crystal Hilts (1)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 11:50 am
soo wrong
 

Shanti S. (0)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 12:39 pm
Thank you.
 

Bea friends Kindly (22)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 1:25 pm
"There were 233 rapes reported in 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau." This is a world wide problem, noted with sadness and knowing. Thanks for highlighting this Cal.... Post me any petitions concerning the subject............
 

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 2:23 pm
Noted
 

Madhu Pillai (22)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 3:23 pm
Noted
 

Lynne Buckley (0)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 3:48 pm
Very disturbing.
 

Vicky P. (462)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 4:00 pm
rapes actually..it seems to happen pretty often there and in a lot of places :( in a lot of cases, education is needed and respect for women is needed everywhere.
 

Debbie G. (312)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 8:47 pm
Very sad and scary for women living there. I would be afraid to travel in India.
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (274)
Sunday August 25, 2013, 11:01 pm
It happens way too often /it should not happen at all
 

Inge Bjorkman (128)
Monday August 26, 2013, 12:12 am
Protect the women of the world, especially in the military

Love not Hate
 

Lauren Goldman (0)
Monday August 26, 2013, 12:45 am
I am a molestation and rape survivor and this just shows the worldwide attitude toward women. Don't feel a sense of moral superiority for the United States.

In a recent nationwide survey of colleges, over 70% of males responded that if they knew absolutely that they could get away with it, they would rape a woman. The surveys were done anonymously. This survey was a follow-up to one done some years ago, with the numbers being basically the same. Given their treatment of women, all countries from eastern India to the Mediterranean should be avoided.
 

Jaya Sinha (26)
Monday August 26, 2013, 5:35 am
Indian men are pampered by their family.They Can Get Away With Almost Anything .They are supported by their mother,sister,wife.
Many Indian men don't talk to women.They talk to their boobs. Shameless..........................
 

Jaya Sinha (26)
Monday August 26, 2013, 5:40 am
Mumbai gangrape: How the MMS is helping nail rapists

The most wanted cellphone in the country belongs to someone no one had heard of a week ago — a 21-year-old resident of Agripada in Central Mumbai.

The phone’s owner, Kasim Bangali, the main accused in the Shakti Mills rape case, is in police custody, but there’s now a ‘manhunt’ on for his phone. Bangali apparently sold the phone to earn some cash while he was on the run, unable to go home.

The phone might contain not just clips from the latest gangrape of the photojournalist but also pictures of other women Bangali and his cohorts had assaulted in the past. Mumbai Mirror reports that Bangali and his buddies would target couples in the deserted mill, assault the women, click photos and threaten to make them public if they went to the police. Bangali, police sources say, even showed the woman he raped last week photos of the other women on his phone to drive home the point that he was not making an empty threat.

Now those pictures and that phone, instead of being his insurance policy, could prove to be a clinching piece of evidence against him, something that cannot be scrubbed away like the stains the young woman was forced to remove with her dupatta after the rape in Shakti Mills.
Police officials escort a suspect (C), in the gang-rape of a female photographer, from a crime branch unit station in Mumbai.

Police officials escort a suspect (C), in the gang-rape of a female photographer, from a crime branch unit station in Mumbai.

The MMS clip of the sexual act, especially an act of coercion, has traditionally been a way to add insult to injury. It was the way the act lived on forever, immortalised in grainy video, a digital scarlet letter of shame that could be played over and over again, shared from phone to phone, watched in the safety of bedrooms and video parlours across the country. And if it was not shared, the spectre of one’s humiliation being pawed over virtually by thousands of strangers (or one’s own family) was an effective silencing tool.

Whether the act is one of rape or consensual sex, the shame of sex is borne disproportionately by the woman. In one of India’s earliest MMS-scandals, a two-minute grainy video of a teenaged schoolgirl stumbling through oral sex with her classmate became dubbed India’s Paris Hilton moment, when an IIT student tried to auction off the clip on Baazee.com landing its CEO Avnish Bajaj in hot water. At that time Neelanjana Banerjee wrote on New America Media “For all the hoopla surrounding the 17-year-old cell phone auteur, the horny/money-grubbing IIT student, Bajaj and the anxious IT moghuls, I was left wondering: What about the girl?“
 Paris Hilton’s tabloid celebrity isn’t affected by leaked sex videos. In India, soon after the scandal broke, the young woman at its centre supposedly left the country.

The stigma of exposure is real and can be fatal. A 15-year-old girl in Etawah committed suicide in February 2013 by taking sulphas tablets after five youths who raped her threatened to make public the video they had taken of her. In a tragic case in Dabra village of Hisar, the father of a minor Dalit girl killed himself after he was shown a clip of his daughter being gang-raped.

However, now the MMS clip, is finally proving to be a double-edged sword for the monsters who record it.

In this case, it’s because the gutsy young woman in question refused to be silenced. By pressing charges and demanding punishment for the perpetrators she effectively turned the spectre of blackmail by exposure on its head. Blackmail only works as long as its victim fears its threat. Once the threat becomes reality, it loses its sting. So many of these MMS clips have gone viral, the threat to reveal them has itself become an empty one. A victim knows that these clips seem to inevitably end up online whether they go to the police or not. Someone somewhere cannot resist sharing them with a wider audience as if the sex-ploit is not real until it has had a million views.

In a world where Google AdWords statistics report that mobile phones were used nearly 4.1 million times a month to search with the keyword ‘rape’ over one year, that’s one search per month for every 30 internet users though it includes those searching for research or shelters and not just titillation, the temptation to brag about rape appears irresistible. That’s why these men share the clips of their conquests among friends and acquaintances until they eventually go viral online in a voyeuristic frenzy, in effect, inadvertently destroying their own misbegotten insurance policy to enforce silence.

When 15 youths, including the son of a local BJP corporator in Betna in Indore district gangraped two young women, daughters of labourers, they made an MMS clip as well to intimidate them into silence. Eight days after the incident, the victims and their family members went ahead and lodged an FIR despite the political connections of the alleged perpetrators after the MMS clip started circulating in the region anyway.

The public’s appetite for rape videos could well become the noose that ensnares its perpetrators. The smartphone with which a thoku master tries to threaten his victim into submissive silence could become the smoking gun that nails him.

There is some poetic justice in that.
 

Jaya Sinha (26)
Monday August 26, 2013, 5:42 am
Why the four other victims of Mumbai rapists matter


The young photo-journalist was not the first woman to be raped by her attackers in Shakti Mills. “During his interrogation, Bangali told us that they [the 5 suspects] had raped four rag pickers at the same spot where the 22-year-old was gang-raped,” a Mumbai crime branch officer told Hindustan Times.

Shakti Mills was not just another conveniently deserted location but a hunting ground for a gang of sexual predators.
Rape protests in Delhi. AFP image

Rape protests in Delhi. AFP image

These four other cases of gangrape went unreported, which likely emboldened the suspects to rape their latest victim:

The group used to target rag pickers as garbage used to be deposited at the isolated Shakti Mills Compound, and several women rag pickers are known to segregate the garbage from the location, said the officer. “Bangali’s gang would take advantage of this and target rag pickers,” added the officer. “The cases have not been registered as the victims may have been too scared to report the incident.”

This inconvenient fact raises several important questions about rape and class.

Here’s one obvious question: Would we have cared as much if the four poor women did report the crime? The police, notoriously unresponsive in matters of rape, may scramble into action on a headline-making case, but is unlikely to show such alacrity when the victim is a lowly rag-picker.

Certainly, the media coverage would have been far more muted. Over the past weekend, two other women have been gangraped in Haryana. One is a woman constable who was accosted in company of relatives when traveling with the body of a relative. The other was a 20-year old Dalit woman who was kidnapped, raped and killed in Jind, where she’d come to sit for a junior teacher’s test. Neither have sparked the same kind of media outrage. And one reason is that the English-language media’s target audience, i.e. the urban educated class, rarely pay attention to crimes against the lower classes. We assume that violence is included in the price of poverty, a package deal that comes with rape, murder, domestic violence included.

And each sensational gangrape brings in its wake hand-wringing over this very insensitivity.When the Delhi case sparked protests, many pointed to the 11-year old Sikar in Rajasthan who had lain in a hospital bed for months, her genitals torn apart, without any attention. The Mumbai case too has evoked similar responses, including this eloquent essay from Firstpost contributor Jay Mazoomdar, who writes, “Every assault that goes unpunished anywhere is an encouragement to rapists everywhere. It is really all or nothing — no woman will ever really feel safe if another does not.”

Everyone pays lip-service to this notion, but how many of us actually believe it? We the educated professional class assume we can always buy protection – from police harassment, electricity cuts, water shortages, the vagaries of Indian life that the less privileged just have to lump. The safety of women is no exception. We are entirely wrong, and the rapes of the ragpickers underlines the high price of our deluded elitism.

When predatory men can assault women with impunity, they are likely to continue to do so, irrespective of their intended victim’s class or caste. To Sheikh and his friends, a photo-journalist is no different from a rag-picker or maid. They did not hesitate because she was better educated or more likely to file a complaint. The sheer heady power of having gotten away with 4 rapes outweighed any calculations about class.

When societies offer men a license to violence, they rarely exercise it with due deference to rank. And unless we create a society where rag-pickers feel as empowered to report rape as a photojournalist, no woman will be safe.

But, but, but surely the Mumbai rapists were wrong. The very fact of their immediate arrests surely sends the message that ‘class privilege’ is alive and well. Glaringly so when we note the fact that the police is too busy lathi-charging the protesting the villagers in Jind to catch the “unidentified suspects.”

We may like to think so, but the real message of the Mumbai gang-rape is that no woman is safe. When it comes to rape, class privilege does not protect women from assault, but offers them the luxury of “staying safe”. In this specific example, photojournalists can opt out of a location shoot in an abandoned mill unlike the rag-pickers who have no option but to risk their bodies to survive. Yet this so-called bubble of safety shrinks with every such incident. Now we can be raped in daylight hours not just after dark. We can be raped on buses not just isolated locations. We can be raped on assignment despite the presence of a male companion not just when we are foolish enough to venture out alone.

As in post-Nirbhaya Delhi, in the months to come, women in Mumbai will “choose” to cede ever more freedom and public space to our potential attackers in order to stay “safe”. The less fortunate, however, will continue to brave abandoned mills, dark streets, and public transportation — and likely continue to pay the price. Sheikh and his buddies may be duly punished, but in the long run, the rapists will win. And they will continue to do so as long as we cling to our delusions of privilege.
ALSO SEE

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Mumbai gangrape: Amitabh Bachchan saddened by incident

Mumbai gangrape: Fifth accused in police custody till 5 September
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Theodore Shayne (56)
Monday August 26, 2013, 10:29 am
Let's get one thing straight; this is not a current problem but a problem that thanks to the saturation coverage of modern media the West is now becoming aware of. Rape and violence have been a common occurrence for a lot longer than it is thought.
It's not just India it's everywhere. I know that when I'm in a foreign country I never go anywhere without the company of a local guide who knows the people and the terrain. Even foreign nationals who live there are advised against travelling alone let alone allowing their women folk and children to do so unescorted.
 

Birgit W. (140)
Monday August 26, 2013, 2:56 pm
Why can't men respect women? As long as there is no respect our world is never going to change. :-(
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Monday August 26, 2013, 4:08 pm
Interesting post--India has a long way to go.
 

Klaus Peters (9)
Tuesday August 27, 2013, 8:40 am
With all the filthy publicity India had in the past doesn't seem to make any difference at all. No action is taken.
My wife of 40 years is Indian and she is glad she never married an Indian. I asked her, lets visit your home country, there was a huge NO. We did visit India once after we married, she and I were totally embarrassed how women were treated and also the lower income population. The so called upstarts seem to do the most damage.
Then again they also have the cast system, ups! It is still in full force even though it was to have been abandoned, old habits will never die. Shame India, it will hurt you.
 

Melania Padilla (173)
Tuesday August 27, 2013, 6:30 pm
Until when?? I am so sick of this! Rape is the worst crime, the worst abuse! I hope all the sick bastards that have done it burn in hell! My heart goes to all women victims of any type of violence.
 

Connie O. (39)
Wednesday August 28, 2013, 8:44 am
I agree with the comments out here...it is a huge problem around the world. India needs to step up and harshly punish rapists.
 

Jeaneen A. (111)
Sunday September 1, 2013, 1:19 pm
One member of six that gang raped a twenty six year old woman, was given 3 years and a suspended sentence. Yes, India really does want to protect its women, like hell they do! Shame on India
 

Sergio Padilla (62)
Monday September 2, 2013, 5:58 pm
Disgusting
 

Klaus Peters (9)
Sunday September 8, 2013, 11:23 am
My wife is Indian, I made a promise to my Dad in law that I will look after her for the rest of my life, I did keep this promise. Then; I am German, not Indian, we were blessed with a lovely daughter and my Dad in Law loved me like a son, more like my own Dad. Our 40th. anniversary will be next month, I do not know how to thank her for all the good times we had, what to do with a big Indian head shake. I am sure she will forgive me for whatever I can come up with and I am counting on our daughter to help out.
 

Richard Anonymous (2)
Monday September 16, 2013, 12:01 am
Any nation that is serious about keeping women safe from sex crime and promoting respect for women should give serious consideration to returning to the traditional means of deterring sex crime by bringing back the lash. If you have doubts that this keeps male sexual misconduct under control, look at how effectively caning keeps sex crime under control in Singapore. Even potentially dangerous circus lions can be kept under control out of fear of the lion tamer's whip.
 
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