Monday, April 8, 2013

Women hit back at India's rape culture

Being in India in that crucial period while the 23-year-old medical student was gang raped and struggling for her life in hospital was an experience that will stay with me forever. The general righteousness and fairness that i expect to meet in life is a prerogative. My sense of security in life stems from the fact that I was born and have grown up in a Western society where the law is reality. So many women live in a society where even if they do have the right of sexual consent or reproductive rights, the society or police will not act upon allegations with due respect to the woman.

This is the story as I've gathered it from BBC and general articles around: The case of the student in the Delhi-rape was that she and her friend were walking around looking for an auto (tuk-tuk) outside the biggest mall Select City-Walk. Seeing as they were going far none of the drivers were willing to take them. This type of night time haggling is a pastime that you will end up spending a lot of time on if you decide to live in Delhi. Then they jump onto a bus - the decision that turned out to be the worst thing they could do. The driver had simply invited his friends for a ride after hours. It was a mistake of the couple to jump on that bus, and it was awful what those psychos did to her. But the awful thing doesn't end when they are kicked out of the bus. The scary part was for me to realise that naked, beaten up and blood streaming down their bodies they were running around the streets looking for help and not finding any. Auto's, taxis, trucks, people in their shiny white cars all refused to help them get to a hospital.

Getting involved in a case like this would take up your time and money - you could end up being suspect if you don't pay enough bribes with the way the Indian justice system malfunctions. When finally they manage to get hold of the police, the poor incompetent officers had to decide which hospital to bring the couple to. Because of the bureaucracy involved they couldn't bring her to the nearest (private) hospital, but had to take them to a propped government hospital with a queue that didn't exactly help getting her to a doctor any faster. The story shows that not only are there too many rapes happening in Delhi, but there is a profound fault with the justice system and bureaucracy involved even in emergencies.

The amazing thing that happened after the sad death of the victim December 29th was that women of all backgrounds started caring. They joined forces and told the men that they would no longer accept the treatment as sex objects any longer. I experienced how men would stare, lick their lips in lust and grope my privates as I passed by. I learned to lower my eyes and by New Years Eve I was prepared for the party scene in Goa where we accidentally ended up in a not-so-touristy club with way too many men. Twice in the first 15 minutes on the dancefloor i managed to grab the arm touching my ass and hit the guys. I seemingly got respect from that and as far as I remember the strangers left me to dance the night away with my friends.

The Red Brigade is a group of women in Lucknow who has gathered to end sexual harassment and abuse by learning self-defence and exercise punishment of the local men. Now, I'm not in favour of taking the law into your own hands as the Red Brigade do when they beat up men. But upon the realisation that the police really is corrupt, that the legal system does not function and this is the only realistic option for these women I have come to the conclusion that it has to be the way of India's women. Women in India need to prove their strength and unison. Until the legal and bureaucratic system gets fixed, physical come-backs and threats will have to educate the men of India on women's worth.

Speaking of rights and in the terms of third wave feminism will not help in India. India will go through their own waves of feminism, and all feminists in the west can do is to look at this in awe and write long blogs about it. We can show our support and facilitate learning, but it's their own fight with a part of their own culture that we can only try to understand. The women need to learn their rights and the men who don't get it need to be retaliated upon. It's a fantastic new era for these women and their daughters.

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