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Location: New Delhi, Delhi, India

It is too bad to be too good

Saturday, 9 November 2013

violence against women

The question of why violence against women is so prolific in India is a matter of considerable debate, as is the question of what to do about it.

On September 13, 2013, a Delhi court sentenced to death four of the six men accused of the gang-rape and murder of Pandey. While this verdict was greeted with joy by her family and many sympathizers around the country, Dr. Aisha Gill, writing on the feminist website thefword.org.uk, describes it as a short-cut way to quiet public anger that does not deal with the complex socio-political factors driving violence against women.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, registered rape cases in India have increased by almost 900 percent over the past 40 years. Numbers of trafficked women are also high, and a 2010 report published by the Asia Foundation states that, unusually, 90 percent of India’s trafficking in persons occurs within national borders. Violence against women is perpetrated not only, or even mostly, by strangers but also from agents of the state, spouses and family members.

social revolution’ for empowering women which must seek to reform “the mind-set and old thoughts of our society.” Such change cannot be achieved in a courtroom or through mass protest. It requires instilling particular values to boys and girls, at home, at school and in the public sphere. Conceptions of masculinity and femininity must be readjusted to place emphasis upon respect for the self and for others.

Most victims of violent crimes are brutalized not just by their attacker but thereafter by the system they appeal to or live with. Women in India tend not to appeal to the legal and criminal system because, far from being a source of protection and empowerment, they find that this system makes them even more vulnerable to abuse.

Despite these deep-rooted structures of patriarchy , there is plenty within the rich and historical culture of India that not only affirms the value and dignity of women but portrays them as leaders and warriors. Women can be found at the highest levels of almost every area of public life in India, from politics to academia to cinema. India has a long and vibrant history of women’s movements, and contemporary women’s rights advocates—whilst fighting many long-standing issues—are adeptly using new strategies to go about their work. Now that those accused of the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey have been tried, and the protestors and their placards have left the streets, the difficult journey towards identifying and changing the inherited prejudices of a collective conscience must continue.


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