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Where's our tipping point?

James Robins | View Archive January 10, 2013, 11:59 am
A protester in India.

AP Images © Enlarge photo

Her name was Jyoti Singh Pandey, if you wanted to know.

Now, I’m not going to pretend to speak for the Indian people, or act as though I know all that much about the place.

My knowledge doesn’t extend far past what the common white man might know about the nation, but it sure doesn’t take a doctored anthropologist to understand some horrific attitudes emerging after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student.

In a stunning echo of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments, Asharam – an Indian “self-styled godman” – said the woman now tragically the fixation of the world’s media ought to have “taken God's name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said, 'I consider you my brother'… then the misconduct wouldn't have happened."

He later reneged on this particular comment, saying "I only meant that had even one of the six accused taken 'diksha' [initiation into his religious teachings], the crime would not have occurred."

I struggle to understand the rationale behind this – probably because none exists.

It’s this kind of obscene irresponsibility that creates a culture of misogyny in the first instance; hatred always begets hatred.

Just yesterday a lawyer for one of the accused rapists – who faces death if found guilty in a fast-track trial – said Pandey and her male friend were “wholly responsible” for the attack.

In a quaint display of elitism he added, "Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady.”

Many honourable Indians took to the streets in horror, only to be met by riot police, and the Western media presented the ongoing saga as a foreign issue – someone else’s problem.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth, and I would like to ask this question as a result:

What would it take to have the Western world out in the streets in the same way?

(I’ve picked the United States as an example as they a largely considered the benchmark and guideline for ‘Western’ ideals.)

The US has a far larger proportion of non-believers than India (20% and 6% respectively), and yet no country has yet matched India’s guttural roar and rail against what seems to be a fear of women driven by religion.

So why, when a special education student in Missouri was repeatedly raped at school and later ignored by education bosses, were there no angry mobs in the street? Why no placards and bullhorns?

In comparison, barely a handful showed up to protest the acquittal of two New York cops who repeatedly raped a 27-year-old woman in the face of overwhelming evidence. Why only a handful?

It even took an entire documentary film – The Invisible War – before US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta decided that perhaps having rape victims in the military report to their superior officer (often responsible for the rape) was not the most sensible way to handle things. But why did Panetta not take further steps?

Proving to be a foul blend of macho sporting culture and internet abuse, the Steubenville Case of a 16-year-old repeatedly raped by star footballers provoked larger protests and an intervention by perennial vigilantes Anonymous. In-depth reports from the NY Times and Time magazine prompted mass attention, but very little else. Why is this?

I’m fearful of the answers to these questions, but these things need to be addressed however tough the truth might be.

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40 Comments

  1. Ninus-711:50am Wednesday 16th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    So... from this we can deduce that India is the next 'Emmanuel Goldstein' on the hit list & we're being primed to 'hate' in readiness for the next war...

    Reply
  2. Nidhi11:36pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    in india u always travel in pairs. i use to go to school with my friends and we always made sure we were together at all times. the streets weren't safe because anything could happen. but when i came to christchurch to study, i was surprised how safe and well treated women were over here. i learnt about different things and after reading the bible, i accepted Jesus into my life. According to the Hindu law books, women were born to serve. her father and brother before marriage, and husband and in-laws later. Women were born to be kept under control. in fact the Hindu woman was the most suppressed creature in india. so how can anything change when people are in bedded with such mindset? proper education and perspective is needed in india.

    Reply
  3. Joe11:22pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Just place the term, women are treated in Hinduism on Google and you will clearly see how poorly the religion and it's followers treats their women in India and elsewhere. Bride burning, female infanticide, dowry abuse, caste killing, rape of lower caste hindu women and many more continues to go unchecked and unheard. It has reached such an epidemic that Hindu women are converting to Buddhism and Christianity to seek a better life. Hindu religion teaches that the whole purpose of women is to serve their men. Like Kiwi women, they don't have the same rights or freedom. I have meet many Indian women over here, who felt glad to be living in a civilized country like New Zealand. Where a women can do what they want without worrying about following weird Hindu practices.

    Reply
  4. Joe11:08pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    @Bob. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, it's called free speech. If you don't like it, than buzz off. Does it hurt when someone points out truth in your Indian community? India is a hellhole, where women are treated like animals. So you can pretend all you want but you can't change how sick your community is. This is what happens when you practices a weird religion like Hinduism, where gods are all cartoon like. Inbred hindus.

    Reply
  5. Bob08:48pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I beg you to remove this post - the prejudice and ignorance and insensitivity of your respondents pains me immensely = for Gods sake change the subject

    Reply
  6. 07:15pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Stephen asks what has happened to compassion and forgiveness--I wonder if he would be so forgiving if he was the subject of a prolonged gang rape--I think not.

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  7. Bob01:47pm Tuesday 15th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Please hurry and change the topic - this is just letting in the usual xenophobic comments - India is a complex and multicultural with many traditions and philosophies that are difficult to conceptualize for some - but nowhere is it acceptable for rape of any sort and nearly all Indians will agree ....

    Reply
  8. Adeline11:15pm Monday 14th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    the problem is everyone is so careful and so PC today, that no one is allowed to to be honest. how can things change in india and treatment of women improve, when the actual hindu faith has women being burnt alive (sati), simply because her husband died. there are many weird practices like this.

    Reply
  9. Sonya11:06pm Monday 14th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    It's not racism, it's actual facts. UN and other organisations reports how poorly Hindu women are treated and looked down upon in India. Million of young girls gets murdered through fetocides each year in the country. Dowry, honor killing, caste abuses are the norm in most of the country. The statistics and reports all over the net, clearly shows how brutal and uncivilized Indians really are. In NZ, we have worked hard to ensure equal rights and reduce gender discrimination. But in countries like india, things are still the same because Hindu faith describes women as lowly. So, don't complain about racism to make excuses. If you come here to live than you have to change your attitude. Otherwise leave.

    Reply
  10. Bob09:17pm Monday 14th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Population of India is 1.2 Billion people, most are decent useful contributors to society and justifiable proud of their heritish .. a few bad apples like in every society .. The perpetrators need to be severely punished - but don't judge the whole nation on a few

    Reply

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