India needs more than empty gestures
On 16 December 2012 six men abused and raped a female student in New Delhi. Their victim is now dead. The unbelievable brutality of the attack has unleashed a nation-wide debate. But that’s not enough. Now, after the death of the 23-year-old student, the young, urban middle class in particular is out on the streets. Many are demanding the death penalty for the six imprisoned rapists, one of whom is a minor. And many are also urging the state to finally do something to better protect women. India’s urban middle class views the state as void of ideas, deeply corrupt and unable to act – as a way for those in power to enrich themselves.
And the government? Again and again, there are promises of quick action, like setting up a public database of sexual offenders. Commissions are established, and officials step in front of the TV cameras to tell demonstrators that their demands are being heard. The government appeals to people to protest peacefully while blocking off government districts. Much operates on separate levels when it comes to the governed and the governing, and little is shared. But collective action is desperately needed because violence against women in India is a daily social phenomenon. In the megalopolis and capital city New Delhi, a rape is reported every 18 hours. And even then, very few victims dare to seek out the police – due to fear, shame or a lack of trust. Three-quarters of sexual predators go unpunished.
Editor: Grahame Lucas
Date04.01.2013 | 10:02