Delhi rape case: What’s the future for women in India?

February 18, 2013 7:18 pm
delhi rape case

Why is such an issue looked at so passively?

The Delhi Rape Case:

Throughout the month of January viewers around the world watched as the details of a horrifying and bone chilling rape case unfolded. One in which an innocent medical student with a promising future ahead of her was sexually assaulted on a bus in India’s capital Delhi.  It’s strange to think that in a nation in which female  Hindu deities are venerated so highly by devotees, that the issue of women’s rights would cause such a huge problem and that in many respects the issues surrounding women’s welfare is so passively observed.

Being in the country at the time, I watched as countless interviews and discussion panels took place live on Indian television,  foreigners and Indians alike gave their two cents or two rupees rather, on what they thought of the disturbing events. Whilst watching BBC’s HARDtalk I witnessed the powerful and hypnotic words of the ex-director general of the Indian police service and outspoken political activist;  Kiran Bedi. Bedi a greying, spectacled, scholarly looking women was the first woman in India to climb the ranks of the police force, a pioneer for women in the country I’m sure.  As she sat in a black chair not unlike the one on mastermind, her face projected into the studio on a large plasma screen, she spoke articulately and intelligently on the issue which sparked such controversy in a nation of nearly 1.21 billion people.  These words conveyed the idea of hope and change, a strong notion that India wanted to change. That it was time for this nation to move forward out of old habits and perhaps adopt a new way of thinking,  the concept that women now needed to take a front seat in society if they were to be protected from such evil acts in the future. I sat captivated by this fiery, steely eyed and fierce figure, never backing down and never shying away from the barrage of questions launched at her.  If women’s welfare was not a top priority, then India could not advance any further. I remember seeing the colourful, captivating images of peaceful protests in which women from all  Indian backgrounds walked, candles and placards in hand in an attempt to make their voices not only heard but understood.

Such voices  many argue are being  dampened by a male driven and male centered society. The BBC’s  presenter brought out his arsenal of statistics challenging the idea that perhaps India will not change. In response to Bedi’s determination and strong defence the following was loaded into the metaphorical gun and fired.

“You aren’t really able to change the system are you? Nearly 90% of senior judges are men, most of India’s politicians are men. You look at what they have been saying  since December 16th and some of the most senior judges and senior politicians don’t seem to get it.”

As with all news stories this one has left the limelight and is now in the back of most peoples minds, the court case continues but the terrible act itself and the raging fire of outrage it caused that burned so intensely on the streets of India has died down. Much like the news stories which captured the hearts and minds of so many people, the idea of women’s welfare may just move to the back of people’s minds as India gradually returns to normal working life, the daily routine coming back to the forefront and taking precedence over issues such as the Delhi rape case. Maybe with good time high ranking officials will wake up to such problems, but like many controversial issues, it may take time. Women such as Kiran Bedi will no doubt continue to fight and speak out, but perhaps  her voice, no matter how high ranking she is, will continue to fall on deaf ears.

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  • Sunil

    A really nice article. However the story now being in the back of people’s minds does not mean there will be no positive change after whats happened. Remember this is not just about rape, this is about the general attitude towards women from a misogynistic and patriarchic society. The idea that the women’s place in the world is secondary to a man’s, starts from the day they are born. Hence why we see dowry,infanticide, Honour killings, sex-selective feticide, sex trafficking, bride trafficking, domestic violence. If we start dealing with issues such as dowry then we may see a domino effect, where the death of dowry will lead to other practices becoming obsolete, thereby changing the attitudes towards women. Recently there have been ground breaking Indian TV shows such as Satyamev Jayate – which talks about the nation’s social evils – which has glued the nation to its TV screens. And we are seeing more dramas that depict real life and deal with issues such as infanticide and Rape. India is showing signs that it is capable of dealing with its ugly truths by using the power of Media for the purpose of good. However you mentioned that you hope that higher ranking officials will wake up to such problems. Higher ranking officials are generally part of the problem. Almost half of the parliament is filled with politicians who have a CV of abuse against women as well as other crimes. Our police officers get away with rape everyday and the Military has the worst Human Rights Record, especially when it comes to rape. Take kashmir and the incident in Poshpora in 91. In fact it is still happening. We cant expect change from officials, its gotta come from the proleteriat. The momentum created after the Delhi Incident needs to be kept going. It is….for now anyway

    • goodbar1

      Thanks for your incredibly detailed and interesting perspective on my article and on this issue!

  • ChrisRobinson

    Excellent article. Hopefully, people will not forget. But how to move forward. I agree with Sunil’s point I think he was alluding to when he mentioned the ‘prletariat’. Indian society is ripe for change, especially as modernisation exists alongside the near mediaevalism in some areas of life, geographically AND politically. In this sense, India resembles Russia in the 1880s-1900s as industry grew, more people moved from the country to the urban areas and working cnditions meant they had to organise more to fight for change. Nothing short of a revolution is needed (not only in INdia!) to topple the ruling class that relies on divide and rule tactics using religion, gender politics, in order to maintain their (mis) rule. Men and women workers should learn that – together – in solidarity, they can change the world where ALL people live with equality, genuine democracy and justice.

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