Rape is not just India’s problem

*Trigger warning* This post contains potentially disturbing material of rape

Picture the scene. A woman in a bar. Dressed up for a night out, drinking and having fun. A group of men at the other side spot her. She leaves her drink on the table with her friend and goes to the toilet. She comes back and finishes the drink. Gradually she becomes more and more giddy, as if going under an anaesthetic.

She wakes up in hospital with sharp stabbing pains in her groin and pelvic area. Her legs and arms are covered in bruises. Her left eye is so badly swollen she can barely see out of it. She has no recollection of the night before, what happened to her or how she ended up in hospital.

It transpires that her drink had been spiked. She was taken outside and gang raped by the group of men that had spotted her in the bar. Once they had finished raping her, she was left outside a club, unconscious. The club bouncers found her and called an ambulance. Through the help of the club’s CCTV, authorities were able to piece together what happened to her.

This account is the true story of an ex-work colleague of mine, and the horrifying ordeal that happened to her in the summer of 2008. The fact is, rape happens to women everyday, all over the world.  The brutal gang- rape and murder of a 23 year old medical student in Delhi last month has got the whole world talking about rape. It has shone the light on a country where a rape is reported every twenty minutes. It has also highlighted the fact that India’s criminal justice system has abysmally failed its women in bringing rapists to justice (one comment I read by an Indian woman who had herself been raped claimed that you were lucky if the police didn’t rape you themselves).

But more specifically, the global media are pointing the finger at India and Indian men; and the treatment of women in the Asian sub-continent. This horrible crime is being hailed as indicative of ‘how depraved’ Indian men are. Indeed, most news articles, blogs and opinion pieces that I’ve read are screaming that Indian men are somehow more savage, more monstrous, even “hyena-like”  than their Western counterparts and that’s why they did this.

Come on, lets not fool ourselves into thinking that rape is someone else’s problem. We in the West cannot afford to talk about this incident as if it were isolated to the Third World and its men. It’s not just Asian men that rape their women, its men from many walks of life and from many different societies and cultures.

Now I’m not defending the double standards that Asian women suffer. It makes my blood boil to see so many of my sisters, at best,  considered the property of a man (our father’s first, then husband’s) and at worst, second-class citizens. Misogyny is rife amongst our men.  But that is a separate (by no means smaller) issue. The woman in Delhi was treated as a piece of meat, a piece of rubbish to be tortured then thrown away, but this is no different to what happened to my colleague- (who, incidentally is English).

She too was raped and left unconscious on the floor while her rapists went off into the night. Thankfully she didn’t die. But what happened to her is just as indicative of an attitude towards women that seems to have been shared by men on opposite sides of the planet.

So come on, lets wake up and talk about rape for the universal issue that it is. Yes as Asians we need to deal with some attitudes that are systemic to our culture. But so too does the rest of ‘man’-kind.

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188 thoughts on “Rape is not just India’s problem

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I just returned from India and instead of anyone asking about the country, they just start rambling facts about the international spotlight on India and how horrible they think it is. A rape every 20 minutes? Look how big their population is! How the media skews statistics is unreal. One rape is too many, and what happened to the girl in Delhi is devastating, but lets not blame India for it…as you said, rape is a global issue and evil sees no colour. Indian people are wonderful in my books. They have their problems but so does each and every other country in the world. Its so easy to just sit back and point fingers.

    • “this article is compassionate. this nation dwells in the shadow of an entity mass producing rights for civil war. Doing no justice for compationate people.”

      Wow! No one says nothing better than you!

  2. very well written. i agree with your point. it is indeed a global issue but usually we tend to throw more light on places where it either happens more frequently or something terrible is done in the process (like in the Delhi case where more physical damage was done after the 6 men gang raped her). I am an Indian girl and i will definitely admit that there are times when i have felt unsafe but then i think that might be true for any young girl or even an old lady living anywhere in this planet. there exists certain type of people everywhere, who actually feed on such lustful thoughts and deeds and till we dont get rid or control these people, crimes rates are not going to go down; neither in south-east asia now the rest of the world.

  3. Beautifully written.
    I was visiting India recently (i am Indian, but living abroad), this article was covered nonstop in the media and the overarching theme is there is something wrong with Indian men.
    I am not denying that I am more uncomfortable with stares from men on Indian streets, compared to other countries. But to read articles in international media condemning the way Indians are raised,etc make me uncomfortable- it isn’t like this doesn’t happen in other countries.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Yes exactly; the point isn’t that there is something wrong with Indian men but all of us- men and women alike have the capability to ‘bad things’ unfortunately. But I do also acknowledge that in some countries like India, sexist behaviour towards women is more prevalent and more socially acceptable. There needs to be a cultural shift.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

      • No, No, not cultural Shift(why??). Ours is much better. I do agree that in rural areas, men are considered above women, but all these things are much improved than before. major focus has to be on strict implementation of Laws, strictness in Laws& punishment and Education.
        Strict laws for people (and police as well).

      • I’m not sure I understand what point you are trying to make. Are you saying Indian culture is ‘better’ than Western? I agree things are much improved, however I stand by my point in the blog that as Asians we need to address attitudes to women and issues like domestic violence and rape. We need to be addressing these issues more.

      • yeah, you have very well addressed the issue. I read your article and In fact I liked it and I was looking for possible solutions.

        I replied to your reply comment to rohini’s where you have mentioned : “…….. in some countries like India, sexist behaviour towards women is more prevalent and more socially acceptable. [There needs to be a cultural shift.]”

        why do you think cultural shift vis-a-vis crime will help in reduction of crime( like gang rape)? cultural shift is something that takes long time….. In my opinion, strict implementation of laws, Awareness and eduction will help. issues like domestic violence, rape can be addressed or prevented only if laws exits and they are implemented strictly.

        Are you getting my point now? India is a multicultural country, and cultural shift may not be solution right now. (as u mentioned in rohini’s comment..)

  4. women, men, and children get raped everyday..in every color, shape, and size. you’re right we should talk about rape as a global issue because it doesn’t just happen in one place but everywhere. I work with children who have been sexually abused, and everyday i see a different face. It is so sad to see that things like this happen and I have promised myself to do what i can to let these children know that it’s not their fault this horrible thing happened to them. I think it’s important for rape victims to know that. No one should blame the victim of this crime.

    I cannot imagine living somewhere where i couldn’t trust the law enforcement with an issue like this in fear they will do the same to me. It’s very hard to talk about rape when it has happened to oneself because it’s something that you shouldn’t be proud of but, keeping it in and not saying a word can cause so much more harm to the self. We need to let it known that it is okay to talk about this.. because talking about it will make a difference.

  5. Very compassionate. Rape is one thing. But gang rape is another. They are both extremely wrong and harmful. However gang rape has a pack mentality, a victim vulnerability in the extreme. It is rampant in all cultures and you are 100% right in saying the world needs to acknowledge it. It’s outRAGEous that in this time in history that women remain unprotected. Your cover photo, “Real Men Don’t Rape” well I’m still looking for a real man.

    • Yes that’s true: gang rape has pack mentality- there’s a consensus amongst a group of people that that kind of cruelty is acceptable and that scares me!

      I do hope you find your ‘real man’- they are out there!!

      • No violence is acceptable. And yes, the desensitization and acceptance by society is truly terrifying.

        Thanx hun. I live in the Dominican Republic. A very Catholic country where 99% of men cheat. And 100% of expat men are only interested in very young women. So, “the real” man takes on a completely different definition. Where common sense ends, DR begins. Yet, I love this country and these people.

  6. Thank you for raising something so emotive in plain language that got us ( or at least, me) to think about the issue of rape as a collective women’s issue and not something that happens in Africa or in Asia as this incident has been portrayed.

  7. It sure is a violation of a woman’s right to dignity and live anywhere in the world. As this incident received global spotlight, my colleagues (from different countries) stopped by to offer condolences and speculate about how unsafe India is and state that this is why they have cancelled their vacation plans… If only they asked Mr.Google to state the facts in their own countries… Sigh!
    We should fight rapists… it is not possible with double standards.

  8. madam..i don’t know who you are..but what you said was what i have been pondering for many hours now..yes..women are treated as a substance or piece of flesh all over the world by men. As you said they they are been considered as a piece of flesh with no brains, a toy with no senses, emotions or personality. they are not considered as a creation created by God himself, to be a companion to men. They are been used to flush out revenge as well as pleasure. A woman is not regarded as a human being, rather they are to live their lives as slaves to men. Slaves who don’t show any emotion. Or slaves just for sexual pleasure. there men who don’t see the face of a woman but only the body. The first step lies in punishing those men cruelly by the government. justice should not be shown. secondly, sons should be raised in a way that they respect women. Schools should emphasize the importance of a woman in one’s life. These idiots are born into this world through a woman and they are blind enough not to realise it. I don’t know what else to say in this matter. anyways good thought! well done!

  9. You are 1000% right. I have present and past friends from all over the globe who were raped as children by men in their families, three American ones who were raped by non family and men at that. I think this is indicative of our grasp and appreciation globally for the lives of women, but as my male friends who were raped prove – it is over the value of other humans period. I just think consequences for those who violate the bodies of others should be extreme (as extreme as possible). This way people will decline to ever entertain it!

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  11. What a beautifully written and well balanced article. I found your views on the International media insightful and I think your criticism was well balanced by your personal connection with India. I am the Mother of two young girls and it devastates me to think that precious daughters out there are being attacked based on their clothes, and their sex. I am so tired of hearing that excuse, even in Australia girls are attacked for these reasons – so by that rationale there are ‘hyena-like’ men everywhere. Obviously there was something wrong with the environment they were raised in, where equality between the sexes was not taught and differences celebrated. I personally know of 3 women in my close circle who have been attacked/raped and violence against women needs to stop. Well done for bringing this problem to the attention to so many readers and for getting ‘freshly pressed’.

  12. What a touching article. I agree with you, rape is a problem everywhere. It’s just something so terrifying and disgusting. In 2013, I can’t believe men are still doing this violence to women.

  13. Very well written! I agree with everything you have said here. But at the same time, I think Indian repressive society makes the women more vulnerable. Also the fact that we Indians have skewed the sex ratio so much, that more and more unemployed men are without partners which makes them more depraved. But rape doesn’t just happen in India, it happens everywhere!

  14. Pingback: Rape is not just India’s problem – Reblogged from British Asian Mum « johndwmacdonald

  15. Very well said.Thanks for writing this post. I think it’s going to become more and more obvious in the coming weeks and months how widespread women and child abuse is in the West with the Jimmy Savile case.

  16. Pingback: Rape is not just India’s problem « carmillaweirdlove

  17. Thank you for finally saying what is on everyone’s mind. Rape is a global problem, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never had connections with a rape issue before, its something we all need to cone together and ensure it never happens again.

  18. Pingback: Rape is not just India’s problem « Journey of Life

  19. Good point. As a resident Indian i have to say that north Indians could be more violent compared to south Indians as most of us down south feel. But its true, in so-called better civilized countries i have come across equally brutal crimes against women. Why should jeans and make-up and hair straightening make women more liberated. Many women with coconut-oiled hair clad in sari in my place are mentally very much liberated and mature that it irks us to be thought of as otherwise. Women being used and cast away like tissue papers in some civilized nations of the world is equally horrifying to us. In India, if you are a resident you can observe that women today far outshine men in many fields which is changing equations in traditional patriarchal family systems. We are going through a transitional phase and may be this is a reason for sudden sport in violent crimes against women. Women are still ‘Lakshmis’ (goddesses of good fortune) in most Indian homes.

  20. Thank you for pointing this out. I think what sets the case in India apart from cases in the West, such as with the woman you described, is the recourse that women have to justice after the fact. I am aware that just as many women in the West find that the system is not always on their side, but compared to women in the Thirld World, they have it slightly better. That’s what has made the spotlight so hot in this case, the fact that the women in India have zero recourse before or after the fact.

  21. Pingback: Rape is not just India’s problem « The Lone Traveller

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  23. Excellent post. If we were to compile statistics on a nation-by-nation basis, we would probably find that a woman is sexually assaulted every ten seconds or so. Most of our societies carry deeply flawed perceptions of the roles men and women are expected to play, which leads to this sort of brutality.

  24. The points stated in your blog are extremely valid, and I’m sorry to hear about the cases mentioned, which involved people you know. As a foreigner of Indian descent and a girl, living in Delhi for my undergrad made me think about the fact that although there is a high incidence in rape all over the world, in no other country apart from India are women looked down upon if injustice has happened to them. Delhi is a place where-if not all, then too many men (and I say this from past experience) visibly believe that they have the right to condemn women and ‘keep them in their place’. Their targets are strangers in crowded, public places. I have had to battle with such aggressive behaviour whilst crossing a one-laned street to my college every morning, and it still sickens me to this day, the way I saw pleasure on the faces of men who tried to instill fear in girls. The way women have been represented in movies, in adverts, in our folklore have further engraved all sorts of sexist mistreatment as acceptable. Sure, rape happens everywhere- but our country shouldn’t be ‘famous’ for it. We should rise above everyone else and be seen as a better place or society, right?

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your experiences in Delhi. It’s like I said in the post, misogyny is rife in our culture and that is clear on the streets of India and other countries in South East Asia- as your day to day experiences clearly demonstrate.

  25. Pingback: Rape is not just India’s problem | Sagar Innovative

  26. I agree. But just to add to that, in India, esp Delhi, it is not just rape. It is the everyday experiences, they way they stare at you, the way they smirk, the way they ‘casually’ brush against you, all of these things contribute to horrifying experiences. I have never ever felt safe, not even at 10 AM on a weekday, going to work in a full sleeved salwar suit. Rape is not just India’s problem, but basic disrespect and the way that a woman is just a piece of flesh everyday, is.

  27. The scene from your first paragraph was enacted almost exactly more than a decade ago in the motion picture “The Accused’ starring Jodie Foster. It’s a riveting movie. Rape is also America’s problem: on college campuses [ where recruiters make sure statistics are under-reported to keep enrollment up ] in families [ where rape by male family members, even male children of their younger girl siblings, is more predominant than anyone would dare admit due to cultural shame and the taboo issue ] and on city streets, where young American women try to always go out in pairs to make themselves less of a target. The decline and deterioration of a society is almost always marked along the way by how they treat their women and girls. As societies climb in spiritual maturity, women and girls are more cherished and protected. As societies degrade and crumble, and evil is allowed to rise unconfronted women and girls are the first targets of impotent male rage against circumstances of stark actuality. We will know our world is finally rising up out of barbarity when women and girls in every culture are cherished as they should be as the fountainheads of all human life on earth. My intuition tells me that such an era is still far away in the future by at least 100 years or more, tragically.

  28. So true! I live in India and dread going to crowded places. In fact, I read somewhere that if getting rapped was not an ordeal enough, the way you get treated post that is worse. Liked your article. Reblogged it as ‘Rape is just the beginning of the ordeal! – Well Written Article’.

  29. Another country that is failure for women is Korea. They are having a spike in minor rapist because they can’t be convicted because they are a “minor”. They claim there isn’t really a solution to the problem. Take a look at America we have no problem convicting our minors with terrible crimes.

  30. There is no easy solution. The act is not something I would wish on anyone. In terms of practical solutions, however, an answer remains to be seen. I am sorry about your friend. You have done a good thing, by speaking up about this. I am listening.

  31. Pingback: Dance, for women everywhere « British Asian Mum

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