Sometimes photographs — even ones that go viral — aren’t worth a thousand words. Here’s what they won’t tell you.
1. The caste system
3. Public spaces
In India, most public spaces are occupied by men. In a patriarchal society, many consider women out in public spaces to be either for male consumption or defiant creatures who need to be taught a lesson through sexual harassment. A 2011 survey conducted by Jagori, an Indian women’s empowerment group, shows that 42 percent of women in Delhi were harassed both physically and verbally while waiting for public transport.
Similarly, 50 percent of women in Delhi found the lack of access to clean and safe toilets a hindrance to their accessing public spaces. Even in big cities like Mumbai, for instance, there are half as many public toilets for women as for men, and most of them close at 9 p.m., unlike the men’s toilets, which are open all night. The two girls in Badaun were raped when they had gone out to the agricultural fields to relieve themselves. The government funds doled out to construct toilets under the sanitation campaign in Badaun were instead used to construct rooms in people’s houses. The villagers said that constructing a rain-proof roof over their heads, which they could not otherwise afford, was a bigger priority than constructing a toilet. According to a 2013 report by Water Aid America, 300 million women and girls all over India defecate in the open. A large majority belong to the poor lower castes in rural areas, who cannot afford a toilet. A recent study, “Danger, Disgust and Indignity,” suggests that in 2013, 400 women and girls in Bihar, another northern state, were raped when they had gone out to defecate.
4. Moral policing
5. Sex education
Sex education is largely seen as a Western-influenced practice that would pervert Indian morality. Yet sex ed is vital for juvenile boys, who may have distorted notions of sex and consent through pornography. In a recent case, a 14-year-old boy sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl in Ghaziabad district, bordering Delhi. The girl sustained several injuries. He was booked for rape and assault.
In India, showing pornography to a child is a criminal offense. Bhuwan Ribhu, the national secretary of the childhood advocacy nonprofit Bachpan Bachao Andolan, who interviewed to the 14-year-old-boy, says that he committed the assault after watching pornography on his mobile phone, and that such incidents have increased in the past five years. “Pornography is readily available over the counters in the form of DVDs and on the cellphones,” he says. Ribhu thinks there is a lack of awareness about sexual crimes among children. “Children are not informed about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’… There needs to be a massive drive at the school level, to educate children.”
6. Property rights
7. Sectarian violence
10. Laws and reforms
Following the December 2012 gang rape and subsequent mass protests, the Justice Verma Committee was formed to review rape laws. Among its recommendations were police reforms and rehabilitative measures for survivors. The committee also insisted on the need for gender sensitization of the police, dominated by male officers and governed by archaic colonial laws, and for the recruiting of more women officers. In September 2012, a low-caste woman from the northern state of Haryana was gang-raped. In April 2013, she was imprisoned for 10 days on charges of perjury. She had withdrawn her statement against the rapists because of an economic boycott by the upper-caste council on her family. Her family members worked as agricultural laborers. With no financial help from the government, she and her family, who were dependent on the upper-caste landowners for their livelihood, had to withdraw the case in exchange of employment. According to the National Commission for Women, a rape survivor receives up to 200,000 rupees (US$3,350) within a period of one year of filing a police report. This amount is too little and comes too late to fight a never-ending legal battle against rapists. The conviction rate in rape cases across India is an abysmal 26 percent.
Published by Al Jazeera America on June 15, 2014
Link to the post: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/6/15/rape-in-india-readingbetweenthelines.html