Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated ... Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected - United Nations spokesman Martin Nesirky.
RTE reported today that a 29 year old woman had been gang raped in India by seven men after she had boarded a bus. Six men have been arrested and a seventh is now a fugitive. In a country where on average a rape is reported every twenty minutes this incident is potentially explosive because of the enormous similarity it bears to a previous one last month. A crucial difference is that the raped woman on this occasion escaped with her life.
The December gang rape and murder of a 23 year old medical student hit the world headlines like few other crimes of its nature. There is probably not a day since the start of human time where a woman has not been raped and murdered. And gang rape in India is said to be a frequent occurrence. In spite of this the December attack in Delhi, which left the victim with horrific injuries she could not survive, caught the public imagination in a different way. Raped, violated and battered with iron bars for an hour by a gang of male thugs, she was thrown unconscious off the bus on which she had been a passenger on a journey home from a night out at the cinema. Her boyfriend whom she was due to marry next month was also beaten unconscious.
The outrage left the city of New Delhi something akin to a fortress, with a highly visible police presence as people took to the streets in protest. Many are demanding the death penalty. The New Delhi demonstrations make what has been happening in Belfast over the same time period look petty and petulant. It must seem a luxury to Indian women that fellow women are able to take to the streets over flags and scream 'no surrender.' In New Delhi people are protesting about being lorded over by men; in Belfast they are protesting about a supposed right to lord it over others.
Women face daily harassment across India, ranging from catcalls on the streets, groping and touching in public transport to rape ...Victims often feel forced to keep quiet and discouraged from reporting it to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. Police often refuse to accept complaints from those who are courageous enough to report the rapes, and the rare prosecutions that reach courts drag on for years.
The Indian police seem to revel in their state of indolence, not even bothering to respond to rape incidents reported to them. The city of New Delhi police commissioner ventured that it wasn’t only women who were unsafe on the city’s streets. Men faced danger too as ‘their pockets were picked.’ A form of equivalence that perhaps only a man could conjure up. For a week ‘not a single leader came forward to engage with protesting students demanding safety for women.’ Worse, they sent the police in to beat them off the streets.
It took a week of protests in the country’s streets before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bothered going on TV to address the issue. According to the BBC ‘many thought it was ironical that India's most powerful woman, Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, met a group of outraged students only after massive public demonstrations had been widely televised.' A female cabinet member in the state government of Madhya Pradesh argued in favour of punishing women who crossed "moral limits". The attitude of the political class may well have been distilled down to a reworked phrase from French history: ‘let them eat cock.’ And a bit like British judges and Catholic bishops they fail to grasp the essence of facts on the ground that manifest itself in comments like ‘they are our rulers, not representatives.’
Bad as things were it takes a man of god to add insult to injury. One of the country’s spiritual gurus claimed, 'this tragedy would not have happened if she had chanted God's name and fallen at the feet of the attackers. The error was not committed by just one side'
Of course this religious nutter is not alone in his depraved thinking. The Italian catholic priest Piero Corsi in his most recent Christmas message said of women, 'they provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?'
Like his Indian counterpart, a warped bollix. It is not to hard to know what women hating clerics the rape gangs of India look to for their spiritual guidance.