India - Latest Shame: STEPHANIE NOLEN
Gang-rape Victim Succumbs To Injuries
In a country inured, often indifferent, to sexualized violence against women, her story pierced the callous skin: Indians have followed it obsessively since the night two weeks ago when a young woman was found tossed on a roadside after being brutally raped by six men on the bus she tried to take home after catching a movie with a friend.
She died in the early hours of Saturday morning (December 29, 2012), unable to recover from the injuries they inflicted on her body – including rape with metal rods kept on the bus for mechanical repairs.
The question now becomes what India will do with her death, whether the anger will fade with the news stories or if this is the moment of confrontation for the pervasive and casual misogyny India glosses over.
As morning broke foggy and cold over New Delhi on Saturday, riot police were reported by local television to be deploying throughout the centre of the capital, determined to shut down any further protests in a case that has brought thousands to the streets in the past two weeks.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who has not been identified, died with her family at her bedside at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, hospital staff said. She was airlifted there on Wednesday night after receiving treatment for her injuries in New Delhi since the attack on December 16, 2012.
“Despite all efforts by a team of eight specialists in Mount Elizabeth Hospital to keep her stable, her condition continued to deteriorate over these two days,” Kevin Loh, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said in statement reported by the Associated Press. “She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome.”
Six men are in custody for their role in the attack.
They face charges including rape and kidnapping; a murder charge will likely now be added. The government has promised to fast-track their trial, which could begin as early as next week. Rape cases routinely take as long as a decade to be heard in the Indian court system; rape-support organizations say that only one in 10 cases in the capital are ever reported to police to begin with, and as few as one in 100 in rural areas in the surrounding states in north India.
The young woman was attacked after she and a male friend, a 28-year-old software engineer, caught what they thought was a city bus to take them home from the mall in a well-travelled area in the south of the Indian capital, just after 9 p.m. on a Sunday. The bus was actually a private charter taken on a joyride by its driver and a group of friends who told police they were “looking for fun” when they duped the young woman and her friend into paying the equivalent of 20 cents to board.
When news of the attack broke, women across India’s socio-economic spectrum seemed to see themselves in its victim: both wealthier women, who could imagine themselves out on a Sunday night to see Life of Pi with a friend, and also those still seeking a way into India’s middle class. The rape victim came from a village in the north and her family had sold their small plot of land to send her to physiotherapy school in Delhi.
The young woman gave a detailed statement about the attack to police while she was fighting for her life in a Delhi hospital (she did this twice, in fact, after police bungled the first one). The details brought thousands of people out into the streets – many young women, and their mothers. The protests were inchoate in their demands: better policing, tougher assault laws, faster courts, safer streets, a change in attitude.
But a tone-deaf Indian government did not respond for days and instead unleashed police in riot gear, tear gas and water cannons against the protesters.
Only in the past few days did government make any official comment. On Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, identifying himself as a father of three daughters, said in a speech to political leaders that, “The emergence of women in public spaces, which is an absolutely essential part of social emancipation, is accompanied by growing threats to their safety and security. We must reflect on this problem, which occurs in all states and regions of our country, and which requires greater attention.”
As news of the young victim’s death raced across social media and dominated news outlets on Saturday morning, it did not seem the rage this case has inspired could be easily contained.
“In your heart, you already know who should shoulder the blame. We failed her, collectively as a civilized society, didn’t we? Our police couldn't protect her while she was being tortured. The men whom we elected did not handle the aftermath well. Our protests were subdued with force,” writer Rituparna Chatterjee said in a blog post for the news channel IBN Live posted before dawn in Delhi.
“We should have taught our men better.”
[Courtesy: The Globe and Mail]
December 29, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Kanwarjeet Singh (USA), December 29, 2012, 8:02 AM.
Where are all these hypocrites (journalists and protestors) in November every year? 3000 Sikh women raped, thousands of Sikh men and children burnt alive had no rights? The fact is these protesters (read Hindus) protected the culprits of 1984 Sikh genocide for 28 years. Now the same protected have turned on their protectors. Welcome to the party, Indians - this is going to keep getting worse from now on.
2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), December 29, 2012, 9:11 AM.
It was Harneet Kaur, ironically from Delhi, who posted a comment on sikhchic.com last year: "Here in India, torture, murder, rape and pillage are spectator sports. Anyone who thinks this is a civilized society doesn't know the meaning of the term." Well?
3: Kamal (India), December 29, 2012, 9:18 AM.
I came across a comment on one of the news sites that sums up the ruling class' outlook on women in India: "In a society like ours, where mythical women and goddesses are worshiped and glorified, real living women are beaten, tortured and humiliated everyday, not just in streets by the sadist gangs, but also by 'empowered' women."
4: Harinder (Uttar Pradesh, India), December 29, 2012, 9:45 AM.
If you don't punish crime, then it shall visit your home sooner than you think.
5: Ari Singh (Sofia, Bulgaria), December 29, 2012, 11:39 AM.
In the land of Guru Nanak ... and of Hindu goddesses too! ... that this can happen, incredible!
6: Raj (Canada), December 29, 2012, 12:49 PM.
Look at Indian society from any angle ... political, religious or social ... it is criminal, bereft of any morality and decadent to the highest degree. It showed its true colours in 1947, in 1984, and the list goes on and on. The comments from Kanwaljeet Singh are right on.
7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), December 29, 2012, 1:56 PM.
India is NOT the land of Guru Nanak! The whole world is the Land of Guru Nanak!
8: N Singh (Canada), December 29, 2012, 3:09 PM.
I have been following this story closely and throughout my emotions have fluctuated from shock, sadness to anger. Firstly, because what these men did was beyond rape, it was sexual execution. I cannot understand how any man can hate women so much that he would inflict this much violence on her sexually. Had she lived, this woman would never have been able to have a normal relationship with a man or have children. Secondly and more so, because I know that this sort of violence (rape and use of metal rods) was used on Sikh women during Punjab's dark days, on the wives and sisters of resistance fighters and innocent youth across Punjab. I am angry because no one spoke up against this and now all this drama. I am angry because these women feeling ashamed and responsible for what had happened kept silent and we as a community not only allowed and expected this but also kept silent. Thirdly, I know that if this woman had not been 'middle-class' and Hindu but a Dalit, a minority or otherwise different, I doubt whether we would have seen the level of public outrage that we are seeing today. Fourthly, I am sick and tired of deluded Indian men (mostly Hindu) telling me and the rest of the world that things have changed; or that India has moved on. This country is still living in the dark ages despite its 6% growth rate. Quite frankly I don't give a damn about this country or whether things change for Indian women or not but I give a whole much for the daughters of Guru Gobind Singh who deserve more from their community. SIKH MEN, and I emphasize Sikh men, need to wake up and empower the women in their lives to be strong and to be vocal. Enough is enough ... we are not like them and we need to prove this to ourselves as well as the rest of the world.
9: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), December 29, 2012, 3:53 PM.
Spiritually speaking, when we talk about a wild elephant, its three main aspects come to light: (1) elephant's lustful urges, (2) its conduct, which is like being intoxicated, and (3) its enormously fat size. Gurbani compares all these aspects of an elephant with the human ego-mind. On account of this cracked or modified state, such humans are described as having a fat ego-mind or an elephant mind. (GGS:221 & 415).
10: D J Singh (USA), December 29, 2012, 11:12 PM.
Is there a future for India without violence? Stop female foeticide, dowry, assault against women and child abuse!
11: H. Kaur (Canada), December 30, 2012, 2:47 AM.
A recent survey (2012) by the United Nations revealed that 57% of Indian male teenagers believe wife beating is okay and 53% of Indian female teenagers do as well. India is the 4th most dangerous place in the world for a woman to live, according to an international survey, due to female infanticide, child weddings, and sex slavery which involves hundreds of thousands of women getting abducted and being forced to work as sex workers in India, many being underage girls. I don't think these protests will change much, not in a place where it probable that many of the cops are rapists themselves. In 1984 and the decade that followed, rapes by police and military was the norm in Punjab, directed against Sikhs specifically. The worst of them all were promoted and awarded! At least 27 politicians currently have charges of rape against them. There are probably other politicians who just don't have the charges but have raped. I mean, we are, after all, talking of a country where murderers sit in parliament. It is hypocritical of course that it takes a Hindu woman who is not a Dalit to touch the hearts of the masses in India. Every day Dalit women get raped and nobody cares. Christian women are raped and paraded naked and nothing happens to those who do it. Kashmiri women are still raped. Apparently a hundred thousand Sikh women have been raped at the behest of the Indian government and it is denied by the masses if anyone dares to say it. What happened to the poor lady in this case is terrible and may she rest in peace, but it is a shame that Indians do not care about crimes committed against communities other than their own. They are now reaping the harvest.
12: H. Kaur (Canada), December 30, 2012, 2:56 AM.
India is not the land of Guru Nanak, dear brother Ari Singh ji. If it were so, these things wouldn't go on. India is the land of Manu. Even Indian papers have started to blame him for the culture against women in India. Let me share a few laws for women that this guy put into place and tell me if it seems like Indian society follows them (even after they move to just lands like Canada and the U.S.): A man can leave a barren woman after eight years and one who only gives birth to daughters. A husband should be worshiped as a god. Even in the home nothing should be done by a child, or by a young or even an old wife (woman) independently.
13: C.M. (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 01, 2013, 9:48 AM.
Gosh, Indians! Change your primitive way of life.
14: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 01, 2013, 3:54 PM.
NEW DELHI: Just hours before Nirbhaya's ashes were immersed in the Ganga, a 17-year-old girl studying in class XI of a prominent South Delhi school was allegedly sedated and raped by two men at a New Year's party in the upscale Safdarjung Enclave area of South Delhi, police sources said on Tuesday.
15: N Singh (Canada), January 02, 2013, 10:46 AM.
Mohan Singh ji, if that upsets you, then read this. An 80 year old woman was raped and assaulted with a stick in Delhi by a 19 year old boy in January last year. That is the life of women in India. Even the elderly are not spared by these animals! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2094583/Delhi-court-wants-changes-states-definition-rape-Tri-Nagarresident-Pahlad-sent-prison.html
16: N Singh (Canada), January 02, 2013, 10:49 AM.
Adding insult to injury, here are India's medieval practices for testing for rape. The two finger rape test which tries to ascertain whether a woman was a virgin before the rape or is crying wolf. I suppose this means that married women cannot be raped. This country is beyond primitive, it is incivilized. How can we ever hope for justice? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255299/Two-finger-rape-test-India-causes-victims-suffering-end-experts-say.html
17: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 03, 2013, 8:11 AM.
N. Singh ji, I am aware of all this! Sharm aati hai is mulk ko vatan kehtey huyye! Ranga and Billa had raped and killed the Chopra brother and sister in Delhi. They were caught and hanged in 1982, to set example for all rapists world wide. In spite of that, the goons have repeated the crime thousands of times.