“The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, forcing them to keep quiet and discouraging them 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.” – source: Associated Press via NPR.
For the past decade, we have focused on the injustice women are subjected to in the Middle East – in Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq – but how do women fare in the largest democracy in the world? According to a story by the AP via NPR, “Nehra Kaul Mehra, a young Indian studying urban and gender policing at Colombia University in the United States, said “We come from a feudal and patriarchal set-up where we value men more than women. We kill daughters before they are born. Those who live are fed less, educated less and segregated from boys.”
That kind of culture raised six men that on December 16, 2012, gang raped a 23 year-old woman and beat her and her male companion on a bus in New Delhi, India. A metal rod was then inserted into the woman, damaging her internal organs. She and her male companion were stripped naked and thrown off the bus. She died yesterday.
In response, thousands are protesting across the country, demanding the men be put to death and laws be implemented to protect women and girls. Sabitha Indra Reddy, the first woman Home Minister of Andhra Pradesh, India, the fourth largest state (of 28) in the country, announced that the country’s ‘108’ service (similar to the U.S. 911) will be extended to include the protection of women as well. According to the Hindu, a similar proposal for a ‘1091’ call center was proposed in response to acid attacks with the state government proposing “a Bill providing for stern punishment against acid attacks and forwarded it to the Centre.” (in the 21st Century, it takes a bill to insist on “stern punishment” against acid attacks?) The 1091 initiative had “technical snags” (shocking) so it never gained “popularity.”
Today, Dehli Police announced a special prosecutor, Supreme Court lawyer Dayan Krishnan, to fast track the case against the six men who murdered the 23 year-old woman. “We hope to file the charge sheet by January 3, 2013. Section 302 of the IPC, which is the penal section for murder, has been added in the FIR,” Mr. Kumar said, adding, “It will be our endeavour to ensure the harshest punishment in the book for the culprits,” the Hindu reported.
Protests continue, politicians appease, but will justice prevail? Will this case bring about reform or just quick action to quell the outrage long enough to get women to eventually forget?