Torofy Blog

Depression and Heart Disease

The Sickness Plaguing India — Sexual Violence

A sickness is plaguing India. Not a physical disease. Not the plague. But a spate of sexual violence against women
and young girls. A couple of days ago, it was reported that
a four-year-old girl was gang-raped in an Indian hospital located 250km south-west of
the northern city of Lucknow. The girl was apparently in intensive care
being treated for a snake bite when she was raped by a hospital attendant and four other
men. Earlier this year in July, a hostel owner
and a tour guide were among six men arrested over the rape of a 21-year-old Russian tourist
in a small town not too far from the southern city of Chennai. The woman was apparently drugged before she
was raped. She was found naked and unconscious on the
floor of the hostel with bite marks on her face and arms. Also in July, 18 men were charged with the
continual rape of a 12-year-old girl over a period of seven months in Chennai. The men all worked for the apartment complex
where the girl lived. Some of them were security guards, plumbers,
and lift operators. They would wait until the girl came home from
school and then take her to secluded parts of the complex, including the gym and the
basement, and then rape her. She was threatened at knife-point and told
that if she spoke to anybody about the rape, they would share videos of her being raped
online. They drugged her. They blindfolded her. They even used a belt around her neck to subdue
her. Again in July, an MP from the current ruling
party of India was charged with the rape of a teenage girl in the northern city of Unnao. He was arrested a year after the attack took
place. Of course, he pleads his innocence and states
that his political rivals are trying to frame him. In May this year, a 16-year-old girl was raped
and burned alive because she threatened the attacker that she would tell her family about
the assault. In the same week, two other teenage girls
suffered the same fate in separate incidents. In January, eight Hindu men kidnapped an eight-year-old
Muslim girl in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir and gang-raped her. Her battered body was found in a nearby forest
after she had gone missing while grazing her family’s ponies. Apparently she was drugged and held captive
at a Hindu temple for a number of days, before being strangled and beaten to death. In June 2014, a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old
girl were found dead, hanging from a tree. They had both been gang-raped. They had gone out together at night to relieve
themselves as their homes did not contain toilets. Police apparently did not intervene, or did
not look into it, as the girls were considered to be from a lower caste. Their state of Uttar Pradesh is deeply divided
along caste lines. In 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was
gang-raped and killed in a private bus in New Delhi. Her male companion tried to intervene but
was beaten within an inch of his life. The bus had tinted windows and curtains, so
passersby couldn’t see in. Her lifeless body was dumped on the side of
the road as the bus was still moving. There are many more documented cases of gang-rape
and torture to young women and girls in India, but I think you get the picture. There is something broken in India and it
needs to be fixed. Australia’s current travel advice to India
states that “Women in India can be subjected to unwanted attention and more serious harassment
and assault, including sexual assault. Successful prosecutions are rare. If you’re female, avoid travelling alone. Be cautious even if you are travelling with
others”. In 2016, India’s culture minister, Mahesh
Sharma, stated that foreign women should not wear skirts or short dresses when visiting
India “for their own safety”. After being heavily criticised for the comment,
he later went on to clarify that he meant only in religious locations and that his words
were out of “concern” for foreign women. However, there is a stigma in India associated
with reporting a sexual assault. Even so, over 100 cases of rape are reported
every day. Some commentators have labelled New Delhi
as the “rape capital of the world”. The Thomson Reuters Foundation has found that
India is the least safe country in the world to be a woman, followed by Afghanistan and
Syria. In April 2018, India’s cabinet approved
the death penalty for all rapists of girls below the age of 12. For the rape of girls below the age of 16,
the punishment was increased from 10 years imprisonment to 20. The penalty for the rape of older females
was increased from seven years to 10 years. However, there was no mention of the rape
of boys or men, so apparently, that’s not such a big issue. I understand that the Indian government wants
to show that they are coming down hard on the perpetrators. The men have done something so grievous that
they don’t deserve to live in society anymore. However, from the realist point of view, will
capital punishment fix the issue? Sure, if my daughter was victim to such an
atrocity, I would think that death would be the only viable punishment. But I also know that it won’t solve anything. The problem isn’t with lack of deterrents
in India. Clearly a man who is willing to participate
in the gang-rape of a child has no intentions of being caught. If the authorities don’t kill him, then
surely the victim’s family or the townsfolk will. The problem in India isn’t with lack of
laws. The problem in India isn’t with lack of
punishment. The problem is with deeply ingrained cultural
practices and beliefs that have allowed these crimes to continue. These result from a toxic mix of three things:
The Caste System; Religion; and an Imbalanced sex-ratio. The caste system divides every Hindu into
classes, from the Brahmin at the top (the priests and teachers), to the Dalits at the
bottom (the outcasts — latrine cleaners and the like). Many of these recent rapes occurred between
men of a higher caste than their victim. These men often see low-caste women as an
object to be dominated. They don’t see them worthy of any respect. It’s the classic dehumanisation of one’s
victim — the psychological prerequisite for violence of this kind. The second reason is religion. Some commentators actively praised the rape
and murder of the eight-year-old Muslim girl because she was seen as a future terrorist
due to her being a Muslim. It’s disgusting that people would still
think that way, but it happens — especially in modern-day India. The final issue is the imbalanced ratio of
men to women. Boys are seen as superior to girls in many
traditional families, so gender-based abortions are not uncommon. This results in villages full of men with
not enough women to go around. The Indian states with the highest number
of gang-rapes, such as Haryana in the north, also have the worst sex ratios in the country. There is clearly a correlation between an
imbalanced sex-ratio, and the prevalence of sexual crime. Something has to be done in India. Today I’ve only mentioned a small number
of the reported cases that made international news. There must be thousands of more cases than
go unreported and potentially, unpunished. The only country that can fix this problem
is India. The continual rape of young children should
be seen as a national disgrace. How it continues to happen in 2018 is beyond
me. Hanging the perpetrators isn’t working. Locking them up isn’t working. These are only temporary solutions. The underlying problems still exist. Obviously, I’m not saying that punishment
shouldn’t exist — of course it should — but punishment will not fix the underlying
cultural practices and beliefs. I’m not sure what can be done, but it requires
a massive educational campaign to encourage people to prevent such acts of violence. Every individual should be given the sworn
duty of protecting woman and children of all castes and religions from the hands of these
monsters. Safe-havens need to be created where girls
can report these terrible crimes without fear of retribution. The average man needs to be encouraged to
speak up when they see a woman or girl being harassed or threatened by their colleagues
or peers. If enough people intervene, eventually there
will be a cultural shift away from this violence and predation, and maybe, just maybe, this
sickness that is plaguing India will be stomped out once and for all.

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