The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
By , Opinions Editor
Published: January 23 2013
The violent rape and eventual death of an anonymous 23-year-old female physiotherapy student from New Delhi, India last month let loose a deluge of protests and a micro revolution in India. Thousands rallied in Jantar Mantar, a popular protest site in the center of New Delhi. Initially, the protestors were mainly female college students, but as soon as the men began to protest, things got violent. According to the New York Times, “The outpouring of anger at the crime caught the government by surprise … ” As a result, the government retaliated with “tear gas, water cannons and beatings by truncheon-wielding riot police officers.”
Something like this could spark a legislative change in Indian society, and over several years, could create a change in the rest of the world, too. According to the New York Times, “Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined.” This is perhaps the most disturbing fact I have read. It makes our species seem, still, so barbaric and primitive.
Such sexual assaults, however, are not unique to India. There is a fundamental problem with rape in our trusty United States, too. As it is with war, America’s interests are the interests of the rest of the world also.
According to a column in the New York Times, a Nepalese border patrol, among others, on the Nepali border“ignored the steady flow of teenage Nepali girls crossing in front of him on their way to Indian brothels, because modern slavery was not perceived as an American priority.” If the United States voices more concern over international rape, perhaps a change might actually come.
According to Hillary Clinton, “The dehumanizing nature of sexual violence doesn’t just harm a single individual … or even a single village … it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings.” Although the State Department has put forth efforts to end sexual assault violence that spans all countries, Congress has been particularly lazy. It has been of some big debate as of late because Congress has yet to renew the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, for reasons unknown.
There are thousands of rape-related crimes in India annually. In fact, there were 24,000 reported cases just this last year. The reason why the anonymous female student’s story caused such an uproar is mainly due to the fact that she was an educated woman, not a poor one from the villages. By this fact, many are finally beginning to realize that India is due for a significant social change. According to Urvashi Butalia of The Hindu, “Protest is important, it shakes the conscience of society.”
The United States is not to be ignored in this discussion either. In fact, last year in Steubenville, Ohio, teenagers from a high school football team sexually assaulted a girl and humiliatingly posted their exploits on the Internet. With reports from Steubenville’s newspaper, the Harold Star, some residents of the Ohio town said that the girl intentionally got herself assaulted by the team.
Such nonsensical claims as this are no different than the ones made in India where communities shame victims of rape by claiming the women “asked for it.” According to Butalia, “roughly 90 per cent of [Indian police officers] felt the woman deserved it, that she asked for it ...”
What prompts some men to see a woman and immediately think to themselves that she needs to be attacked is perplexing. Or perhaps they’re not thinking at all. But what is as equally troubling are the communities that put the blame on the women. Perhaps they are not thinking at all either.
According to Butalia, “Sometimes, tragically, it takes a case like this to awaken public consciousness, to make people realize that rape and sexual assault are not merely “women’s issues,” they’re a symbol of the deep-seated violence …” It is true that governments, too, are to blame, but they will not change unless the people command them to.
There is usually a public outcry whenever a woman is sexually assaulted in the United States. But when Congress fails to renew legislation for whatever lazy excuse they can conjure up, or when our foreign policy fails to place a focus on the horrors of gender abuse across the globe, we are at fault for contributing to the perpetuity of our species’s barbarism. If by merely showing the world that U.S. policy is adamant about combating sexual abuse within our own country and abroad, then other countries might follow suit.
Opinion editor, Alley Jordan is a senior political science and classics major.
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