At the time of writing this, Delhi is trending worldwide. This morning, the young student who suffered the brutal gang rape that sparked the riots in Delhi, died. To many, she was murdered. On Wednesday, another Indian girl died. She ingested poison, killing herself, though her suicide note pointed clearly to the three men who had gang raped her and the failings of the police to obtain justice as her murderers. Child marriages have been proposed by caste elders as a solution to the growing epidemic of rapes plaguing the rising power that is modern India, whilst police officials have trivially compared the plight to those of young men in India who (boo-hoo) are regularly pickpocketed. Advice offered has passed blame onto victims, with police officials advising women to stay in after sunset, and to keep away from alcohol. It is clear the injustice is endemic.
It's important to point out that this situation is not distinctly Indian. High levels of often gruesome sexual violence can be found in any number of wartime situations, and in peacetime as we have observed with South Africa, a similar nation to India as a newly-industrialized country. Even here in the UK, the 6% rape conviction rate (less than India's) is worthy of levelling criticism at, and the same victim-blaming from police officials can be found in countless other territories- hence the forming of Slutwalk in 2011. You would be hard-pressed to find any nation innocent of the systematic injustice for rape victims in varying degrees. But what is happening in India right now, needs addressing, not just for the women of Delhi, but for the entire world, and the proposed course of action from the Indian government (maximum penalty for the culprits and training for police to be more 'sensitive' when talking to women) isn't good enough.
Gender-sensitivity training has been trialled before with police with little success. The monthly meetings with women's organizations that have been suggested sound great, but seeing as government spending on current women's organizations have been cut to non-functioning levels, we have to ask, will these promises be fulfilled? Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged on Thursday action would be taken yet there's been no word of staffing changes. The police commissioners that belittled the victims are to suddenly now defend them?
Big changes are needed not half-hearted appeasements and it's up to us to tell them that, and keep telling them that until it's heard. It might be a big ask to get David Cameron to have a quiet chat but with the internet we might not have to. These protests were organized via social media, and through social media we can help keep the good fight alive- we don't have to leave this to the Indians. It's not about pointing at another nation and saying our country is better, and addressing the problem doesn't make you a cultural imperialist as some of the speculation has been. This is about human rights violations of a sexual nature. Today's battleground is Delhi, tomorrow it could be Paris. These are international issues that demand international involvement, after all, many a war was won with words.
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