Damini’s death in India is a reminder of the tragedy of sexual violence in India

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I read this recently from the India Today publication.

The death of the Delhi gang-rape victim ‘Damini’ in Singapore on Saturday “is a sobering reminder of the vast tragedy of sexual violence in India”, Human Rights Watch said. The death of the 23-year-old “follows the suicide of a 17-year-old after police failed to act on her complaint of rape”, said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “This is not an isolated incident,” Ganguly said in a statement.
“The outrage now should lead to law reform that criminalises all forms of sexual assault, strengthen mechanisms for implementation and accountability, so that victims are not blamed, humiliated or suffering silently.” “It is much harder, but ultimately more effective, to revamp the response of police, doctors, forensic specialists, prosecutors, and judges to sexual violence,” she said, adding “Victims deserve an effective, coordinated response to sexual assault.”

Interestingly, there is also talk of a mass public protest in the form of a NO SHOW! at the up and coming Republic day celebrations on 26th January 2013..

India, the land of wonder and a place that the west seem to epitomize as a place of mysticism and spirit has a dark side. It is a side that is centered on deep rooted ways to get things done aka corruption and a history people not paying their taxes (Money helps to put order in place and is difficult with only 2.8% of the population paying their taxes) ! The result is a survivalist fueled based economy, a gulf of polarised people (rich and poor together with rich Vs poor), exploitation and the removal of essential liberties.

I’m currently reading a book that was inspired by an accidental arrest by police in Northern India. I also recently saw a video submitted to my Facebook timeline of a police officer in Delhi punching a driver who appeared to be simply trying to report damage to his car. In 1984 thousands of victims of rape, murderer and burning of members of Delhi’s Sikh community was witnessed, yet no justice continues to be the consistent theme. Do you see a pattern emerging here? It is not what you do, it is who you know that keeps society going. It is also too easy to be critical from afar!

In the case of rape and sexual exploitation, I agree with Human Rights Watch’s suggestion. There is a strategy that is also need to prevent this kind of violence against women. Its about the basic right of equality and defense. Equality in the context of accepting women with the same respect. Defense, from a perspective of assuring  safe places to walk,  reliably policed, with sufficient surveillance. Potential perpetrators need to be reviewed / profiled (inc: safe guards) with complaints taken seriously. Respect extends to managing rape cases, gathering evidence and faster prosecutions.

In about 1499 when the world offered low to no status or respect to women, Guru Nanak sought to improve the respect of women by spreading this message: “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman.” (page 473). In so doing, he promoted women’s rights and equality. This was stated back in the 15th Century and over 500 years later we are still seeing a level of brutality that is so sad and terrible.

If people are to protest, please don’t water cannon or tear gas them! At the moment all I can see is remorse fueled statements from Politicians. Little or no solutions are being offered as a beacon of light to help fight rape cases that continue. Folks, here are a few suggestions from yours truly:

  • Consolidate all rape crimes to a central bureau and conduct research on typical behaviours
  • Report police abuses to an independent panel with published findings & name names!
  • Develop a new code of conduct for multidisciplinary teams that have to manage any rape that occurs
  • Politicians – start a campaign or build into law greater equality for women
  • Listen to Human Rights organisations and develop new strategies to protect women in both vulnerable situations (domestic) and in public areas
  • Police – If you see suspicious vehicles (pick-up transits with darkened windows) – ask why!
  • Pass laws to communicate the seriousness of sexual violence.
  • Invest in local centres to make it easier for women or men to have safe houses.

Social change  has to be lead by people with the vision to follow through with 2 strategies. Firstly, immediate emergency actions and bills and secondly, through a sustained campaign that roots out corruption and instils discipline to stop abuse.

Send your suggestions to the politicians and law makers and hope they won’t just ignore it and wait for Damini’s news to be old news. Remember, every day there are cases of this type that are premeditated and often opportunist. Be on-guard and report to multiple places & share online if you see someone being abused.
The time to demand action is now. Act with actions n mind. Make the news something that will activate change.

Categories: 2012, Ethics, Justice


1 reply

  1. It’s really sad to see that the biggest democracy on this planet has no solid legislation in place to protect women against sexual violence. Hope the “Damini incident” will urge the Indian legislators to do something about it.

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