The Real Shame: India’s Patriarchy Roars Back After Delhi Gang Rape

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Altaf Qadri / AP

An Indian girl dressed as Lady Justice takes part in a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013

“Let there be no mothers/ Let there be no wives/ Let there be no daughters/ And there will be no crimes,” read Anubha Sharma to a hall packed with students like her, all listening with rapt attention. A student of Indraprastha College, New Delhi’s oldest women’s college, Sharma wrote the poem, later published by Indian daily the Hindu, out of frustration after a long argument with her father on the parameters of safety for women.

On Thursday afternoon, she, along with some of her teachers and many of her fellow students, held an impassioned discussion of the infraction of their personal freedom in the aftermath of the horrific Delhi gang rape. Last month, the crime galvanized an entire nation into a flurry of protests, in which Indraprastha students, who hail from all over India, zealously participated. For weeks, teachers and students camped out at protest venues, marched and submitted memorandums to government authorities to make the city a safer place for its women.

(PHOTOS: In India, a Rape Sparks Violent Protests and Demands for Justice)

But even at this female-centric institution, students’ day-to-day freedoms have shrunk since the Dec. 16 attack. Curfew for students living in campus dormitories has been brought forward an hour to 9:30 p.m., and girls are now required to seek permission from the college administration before going out with friends and provide details of the friends they are going out with. These measures, the girls were unanimous in saying at the meeting on Thursday, pose a serious threat to their personal freedom. “Every time incidents of sexual assault or molestation happen in any part of the country, we girls face more and more restrictions,” one student said during the discussion. “Why should we pay for the crimes men commit? Lock the men up. We are not the culprits!”

They are not, but in the labyrinth of India’s complicated patriarchy, women are not just victims but scapegoats. Every time there is a rape — and there have been at least 10 more gruesome rapes reported in the past month, including that of a 7-year-old girl in Goa — knee-jerk reactions from family members and political leaders alike place the onus on women by imposing restrictions on the way they move and how they dress. Indian media recently reported that the government of the northern state of Uttarakhand passed an order stopping women from working after 6 p.m. in both private and government jobs. The regressive edict, conceived by the state government as a way to curb crimes against women, was widely opposed by women’s-rights activists and the political opposition, leading the state’s chief minister to deny that such an order had ever, in fact, been passed.

(MORE: Sexual Violence in India: How Long Will the Media’s Interest Last?)

It was not an isolated transgression. Earlier, Delhi police had issued a list of dos and don’ts for women in the capital to stay safe, including not boarding empty buses and going straight home after school or college. The government of the union territory of Puducherry came up with the bizarre solution of putting girls in overcoats, a move that was strongly opposed by students all over the country, leading civil society to force the government to backtrack. In Haryana, khap panchayats, the all-powerful and all-male informal village councils, have made suggestions that girls should be married off sooner or not be allowed to use mobile phones. These retro diktats, made both before and after the Dec. 16 crime, have many worried that the hard-earned freedom of Indian women is on the line. “It’s not just fear about safety. It is an excuse to impose lots of patriarchal strictures,” says Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association. “It becomes a mask for anxiety about your daughter’s sexuality or a control of her sexuality. That anxiety has no simple solution.”

Women, too, are imposing stricter limits on themselves after looking over their shoulders a little too often following the Dec. 16 incident. Many women say they have started dressing more conservatively in response to a society that has repeatedly advised them to be invisible in order to be safe from sexual predators. “Whatever 10 steps we had advanced, this incident has put us back by at least 20 more steps,” says Tulip, a 27-year-old publishing professional who lives in New Delhi. Tulip, who has led a blithe life in the capital for the past couple of years, sharing a flat with a few other girlfriends, says she suddenly feels trapped. Her parents, who live in the Himalayan town of Dehradun, get frazzled when she goes out in the evenings. On their advice, Tulip has taken to dressing more plainly so as not to attract undue attention. “One section of society will certainly ask for more restrictions,” says social activist Aruna Roy. “[But] if the country shifts back to any regressive position, it will be fought tooth and nail by many of us.”

(MORE: After New Delhi Gang Rape, Should the Culprits Be Executed?)

Women like Tulip and Anubha Sharma, the student poet, have showed up by the thousands to protest venues in the past month with placards that loudly proclaimed their opposition to these patriarchal decrees. They have walked the roads at night to reclaim the streets for themselves. They have fought with their parents and family members to reclaim their independence. Many activists believe it is this assertion of freedom at home that prompted such a tremendous social reaction in the public sphere. “I don’t think that all the reaction was due to the fear of sexual violence,” Krishnan says. “The reaction is also to the assertion of freedom. When a woman starts demanding freedom and rights, that’s where the discomfort begins.”

This discomfort has led to an increased policing of Indian women in the wake of the Delhi gang rape. But the rape’s fallout has also brought out the steel in Indian women, whose voice of protest this time around has been persistently irrepressible. On Thursday afternoon, as the discussion was winding up at Indraprastha College, a group of young girls in their early 20s debated passionately what they could do to counteract the force of this repression. Long-term change might still be a while away, but the unwavering voice of youth might just hasten it. “You will have to give space to the hundreds and thousands of young voices that is the future of India, who have clearly stated that they want justice and freedom, they do not want the clock set back,” says Roy. “Today the middle classes have broken their silence, and that gives us hope that there will be no going back to repressive times. We women will continue to fight together in solidarity as we always have.”

MORE: Rape in India: A Result of Sex Selection?

75 comments
Kathymiller94
Kathymiller94

Maybe we need to take a lesson from the cattle industry.  They castrate bulls to make them calm.  While, on the 3rd violent offense by a male, cut his balls off and if he is violent to women cut his balls off in public.  Dead males do not abuse women or kids

straydog
straydog

The natures of these crimes are especially appalling. The ages of these girls...the manner in which they were preyed upon...the actual violence they endured...and then the shame (and/or continued violence) they endure when they try to tell others what has happened, and are met with no assistance from their government, is a blatant disregard for human rights in India. How is this STILL happening in a supposed modern society? How can there be such little equality---and WHY are we supporting this nation? Why are we supporting ANY nation with such widespread (and accepted) violations of human rights?

Rather than blame the women for the behavior of these men, such scum (and yes, I've no problem referring to them as such---despite it not being PC) should be eliminated from society. I don't really care about them--I don't care why they did it, their upbringing, what drove them, what led up to them doing it and -certainly- not about their rights. In a modern society, a person who knowingly inflicts violence or harm upon another person for personal gain, fun/sport, or any other reason other than self defense, does not belong. They are a threat to the species (society) and have no place among it. Sadly, India doesn't share this sentiment and instead pushes the blame onto the victims--strong-arming them into keeping secret and allowing the cycle to perpetuate as to continue to secure the male-dominated role in their society. I, despite not being a violent person, would gladly destroy the lives of any men who engage in these sorts of crimes, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or their motives. Crimes against women and children are inexcusable---NOTHING justifies the rape, torture and/or murder of women or children. It's crimes of cowardice.

Not a single dime of my money will go towards supporting this country until its government stands up for the rights of its women and children. Nuclear testing aside, India seems like little more than a military-less North Korea---just as corrupt, starving the majority of their people, controlling the rest, disregarding the rights of women, flippant about child welfare, arrogant about their education system and pretentious about their culture. To a certain degree, each country displays some of the above traits (USA...pretentious much?), however, they are countries taking steps to remedy their problems. India has simply lifted men to a higher status---justified their actions by their inaction, and has punished the victims in such widespread senseless violence.

India... join the modern century and start addressing your grave human rights situation in a way that brings equality and SAFETY to your women and children.

Marisol100
Marisol100

Personally, I think that Madam Gandhi should donate some of her BILLIONS, not only to India's poor, but also to every women, child and baby who has been savagely and barbarically gang-raped, raped, sodomized, mutilated or killed on her watch. It is, after all, the ineptitude and complacency of her government that has allowed these atrocities to continue, unabated, for years.

By failing to deal harshly with the perpetrators of these heinous, violent sexual crimes, including juveniles, Madam Gandhi and her government have perpetuated the infestation of the country with this despicable plague of depraved, savage, vile, barbaric rapists and murderers. She should step down, since she obviously does not have courage to deal with it.

An election is coming up, and Madam Gandhi and her Congress party must be ousted. They have failed miserably to protect the female population (women, children, and babies alike), from the despicable scourge of evil, barbaric, savage rapists and murderers that ravage her country. That is unforgivable, and for that, she must go.

Marisol100
Marisol100

As long as politicians and police authorities continue to minimize and trivialize the nature of these abhorrent, vile crimes, these atrocities will continue unabated and your country will remain a third world country, with half of its population free to continue perpetuating their heinous, depraved, savage sexual crimes against women and children with impunity. SHAME ON YOU, INDIA and shame on all of you who accept and practice this misogynistic, patriarchal attitude towards women!!

Marisol100
Marisol100

This was a vile, despicable, evil crime and must be punished by the harshest of means. These men (animals) had no empathy or compassion towards the young woman they gang raped, barbarically sodomized, mutilated, and killed. Any man or juvenile who brutally rapes a woman, child or baby is an abhorrent, sick poison and scourge of society and should be hanged. Not incarcerated, but hanged. This would serve as a deterrent to the rest of these vile, despicable rapists, including juveniles, for their heinous, barbaric, savage, evil sexual crimes against women, children, and babies.

Your government, with its history of ineptitude and complacency, has allowed these monstrous atrocities to continue for decades. In NOT dealing harshly with these heinous sexual crimes against women and children long before now, you have perpetuated the infestation of your country with a plague of depraved, savage, vile, barbaric rapists who commit violent, atrocious, evil sexual crimes against women and children! INDIA, WHERE IS YOUR SHAME??

SarahConfran
SarahConfran

Men should be horrified by these things too. The laws these governments put out to protect women assume that every man is a rapist that can't control himself. I would personally be offended if my government thought I was automatically a rapist.

WilliamBarnes
WilliamBarnes

IF YOU GO OUT IN THE RAIN WITHOUT AN UMBRELLA, YOU GET WET!  If a cerfew has been enacted to stop "women from working after 6 p.m. in both private and government jobs"., it means that this backward and primitive society and the Indian government recognizes and accepts this male behavior (rape) as an ingrained and immutable part of the male 'persona' and therefore has to be 'accepted' as such and that 'naturally' steps to protect women must be taken (now that everybody is making so much noise and international fuss about it). But how? By constraining the men? Oh No! That would be like beating a DOG (which it is). Rape (taking sexual pleasure from a female regardless of age, etc.) is 'part of their (men's) nature, just as it is for females to be raped in India. The Indian government and culture (except SOME of the victims, afterall, you can still be narried to the rapist) sees this as normal. And now for the interesting part. This important example of Indian culture is from a society which began writing script at around 2.600 B.C. Imagine what we'll be like when (if) we get there.


Colleen
Colleen

Maybe if these leaders decided to make some new laws, like CASTRATING a rapist it would deter them.  Why should the females suffer for being a victim.  These men seem to think it is their right to take what they want.  England should have kept them a territory.  Gandhi would have been horrified at these men.

@Priyanka_Hearts
@Priyanka_Hearts

It's  a shame . India has become a shame . All the great leaders who fought for our country ; all their hard work to free our country proves to make no sense at all right now , for India is not the India it used to be . 

Ashamed to be here . No protection for humanity and we have some worthless wretches who all themselves Politicians .

AnandaRay
AnandaRay

I feel ashamed.

I want to write to all of India, to the world, but instead, I would rather write to you, the girl that I love.

I have let you down, I know, in many ways within the relationship we share. But I want to talk about one other way in which I feel I am letting you down.

I have been reading the thoughts of so many women across the country in relation to the rape. I have watched the protests on television. I have seen men and women stand together, demanding fairness, justice, protection and, finally, respect.

And whether I have stood beside you during these protests or not, whether I have empathised with you and even if I have fought for your rights in closed circles over dinner, I have still let you down.

I can sense the divide. I can see women fight because they are the ones who need to fight. I have seen the men join them, but even they know that they only add to the voices of the women.

I don't mean to bring the men down - I am trying to arrive at something. Just like me, they are heavily invested in this. I am talking about the protection of the person I love the most in this world. Someone I know I am nothing without. Naturally, my involvement in this fight goes beyond solidarity.

And I want the world to know that I go beyond solidarity.

Just like women are objecting to people telling them to dress conservatively, just like they are demanding that they should not be punished for how men behave, and they have an agenda for themselves, we ought to make it our fight as well. And have our own agenda.

I want to step out on the road and make it clear that I will not ask my girlfriend to return early. That I will not have a say on the clothes she chooses to wear. I will not ask her to worry about what kind of public transport to take. I will not ask her to report her every movement to me. If people catcall at her, I will not question her for being somewhere where there is a probability of that happening. I will question the law. If she walks down a deserted street at night, I will not question her wisdom in doing so. I will question the cops. I will not be one of those men that feed into her fear.

And I will, instead, want other men to join me in saying these things. Men who object to how certain other men perceive and treat women. Regardless of what women they know feel about it. I don't want to fight for women's rights because my girlfriend requires it. I will fight because I require it.

I want the world to know that I respect my girlfriend whether she asks me to or not - and why on earth should she have to ask?

I want the world to know that I, along with many other men, will not tolerate men who have been taught that women are the weaker sex. That they are sex objects. That the man of the house is more powerful than the woman of the house. I want men to march the streets and decry loud and clear the treatment meted out to women. And their perceptions of them. Women, of course, will be welcome to join us in solidarity.

I want to look those men in the eye and tell them that I summarily reject them. They are not men, even in the eyes of other men, let alone women.

I want the world to know that this is our fight too.

kcrail
kcrail

Freedom to claim full personhood by half the population.  To be trusted to make their own decisions about living their life, including their bodies.  Sounds perfectly reasonable in India and the US.  Our planet sure could use some Mother Love and I hope that we can join together, women around the world, with our strong men beside us, to reach out to each other with love.  Since love and fear cannot co-exist simultaneously, with this simple act, we can change our world.   

Feminine and Masculine.  Represented as the Yin-Yang, notice they are side by side.  They are in dynamic disequilibrium, spinning the energy endlessly.  Notice that if one is placed atop the other, the energy does not flow.  It is stopped.

JoeMartinez
JoeMartinez

One would not expect this type of action from such peaceful and morally nation like India to result in punishing the victums instead of of the perpetrators. Shame on the authorities an indication they are powerless to control rape in their nation. Another phrase perhaps best describe the authorities(spinless).

faraway67
faraway67

@jalees_rehman Page not found??

rohit57
rohit57

I wonder what the situation is for women in.other cities like Chennai . or Mumbai. I was recently in Chennai and met a young woman from Baroda, Gujarat who said women were safest in Gujarat.

of course it is just one woman' s view.

TizzAlNabi
TizzAlNabi

Let's be honest, this is also a big problem in many Arab countries (especially Egypt). Until the Western press wakes up and gives the problem of violence against women in Arab countries and the developing world, nothing will change. It is much worse than apartheid and a similar campaign must be waged against it.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

Fox News (of all places) published a detailed account of the Delhi rape. This wasn't really a rape, this was the most hate-fuelled sadistic murder imaginable. It's like something straight out of the UN report on the Lord's Resistance Army's attacks in the Congo, or the Japanese atrocities in Nanking during WW2.

ScottWan
ScottWan

Woman raped and burnt to death in Odish

Bhubaneswar, January 20, 2013: A woman died after being raped and burnt by a man in Odisha's Balasore district,The daily wage earner, a resident of Soro, 170 km from Bhubaneswar, said her 20-year-old daughter had gone to the house of a family friend at Teliaganj, A mason, who was in the house, raped her at night when she went to bed. After raping her, the accused allegedly poured kerosene on her and set her on fire.


ScottWan
ScottWan

Rape Continues

Panaji, Goa, January 20, 2013: Headmistress of a school run by the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) in Vasco town of Goa was arrested on Sunday for negligence in connection with the rape of a seven-year-old girl on the school premises, police said. Police have registered two different cases related to the alleged sexual assault of the minor inside the school toilet.

Stootea
Stootea

I am from this college, and you know how I came across this article? Because the girl who wrote those lines in the beginning, shared it on facebook saying "I.P. College portrayed in wrong light" when in fact, the picture painted is pretty accurate the way I see it. That, I feel is the worst thing about patriarchy. None of these girls realise they are being imprisoned and no one wants to fight it. People who actually want freedom are told to shut up and sit down. Perfect example of how women help in perpetrating patriarchy.


EnticingHavoc
EnticingHavoc

Saudi Arabia has already solved that particular problem.

Let's see if (when ...) India will adopt their successful model ...

MegPierce
MegPierce

I think they should put the curfews on the men in the city. Men should not be driving and getting on empty busses at night. Men should go home directly after work or school. Men should not be allowed to roam around the streets raping women at night. Men should keep their penises in their pants in public. Men should be taught that sex should only occur between two consenting adults. Men should be taught that women are not objects or prizes or subjects of their will. You want a safer country and a safer culture, start there.

cykbgor
cykbgor

We are human being.

We all alike.

We should love each other.

No boundaries should be made.

Any races or religion dhould behave that way.

Those who act in different is insane.

solamiga
solamiga

@GeorgieBC "Page not found".....?

tanny
tanny

India is run by none other than bunch of criminals, murderers, rapists, pedophiles anyway so women have no hope in hell there. It might be sad but it is the truth. 

sushilpershad
sushilpershad

We Require A Total Social Attitude Change How We Treat Women In Society Which Can Not Be  Achieved By Curbing Their Freedom.!!

SamuelYap
SamuelYap

I said it before, and I will say it again. The way how a nation, culture and religion looks at and treats women is an indicative measure of the maturity of that nation, culture and religion. Women are treated as sources of temptation and sin, and must be clothed up and locked up to prevent men from committing crimes and sin. Men can do what they want, and it is the women who are restrained and controlled to prevent men from doing this. This duality and hypocrisy must come to an end. Nations, cultures and religions who feel alluded to, must wake up to the fact that although men and women may have different roles, they were created equal.

jensha7
jensha7

As long as their religion continues to privilege men and denigrate women, their culture will tolerate all the many ways in which women are abused on a daily basis throughout the country. 

elcidharth
elcidharth

For some reasons, not related to the Delhi rape issue, I find it very disturbing that discussion becomes a fist-fight.

Women are not treated right in the modern Indian society, must be the issue. 

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,A Search for New Paradigms Usha Kiran Rai, Ph.D.

Abstract 

 Being a person interested in Women Studies, the impact of domestic violence on the total globe is something that always perturbs the author. It has been seen that this is not a national or regional problem, it permeates through the boundaries of countries.This paper is an attempt to analyze the different types of domestic violence with examples taken from what has been reported. The unreported ones may be much more than these. The paper attempts to study the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and analyses it threadbare. Many questions are put forth regarding the Act, its implementation, and the possible strategies of its better implementation. But more important are the questions that are left unanswered regarding the socio-cultural aspects of the society, the hidden implications of the law and polity, the real impacts of this crime on the people the victim means something to. It may be said that this paper is not the result specifically of the concern for women alone, but the society as a whole. And the questions put forth are for the concern of the whole society. 

 ___________________________  

...and I am Sid Harth@elcidharth.com

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Unless one is a novice in international affairs , one must know of India's highly rigid patriarchal system.  Since time immemorial, men have ruled every facet at every level of Indian society.  Generally speaking, much of the Western world now observes how much women can contribute to a myriad of activities at all levels of society.  India, however, is still stuck in the 'Dark Ages' on fair(er) treatment for women.

Given the above, the article essentially reports and re-hashes the same litany of ills affecting Indian women.  Honestly, would anyone have expected a different reaction from India's entrenched patriarchal system?  

Again, only a novice would hold such a perspective.

rohit57
rohit57

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics the reported rate of rape in Sweden is over 63 per 100,000, it is over 27 in the US and 1.8 in India.  Granted that rape is an under reported crime, how do we compare these countries?   Surely it is underreported in India, but, it is claimed, underreported in the US as well.  

I have no problem with executing the men involved in the Delhi rapes.   But laws enacted in the heat of passion may not be the wisest course.

ravenrdr
ravenrdr

We all need to face it:  men are weak.  They admit it; they are subject to their impulses and have little if any control over them.   They brag that they are forever children--and women think that is "cute."    Being unpredictable and  subject to their basest desires, they should, of course, not be allowed in government at all, as children should not be governors of states.

ScottWan
ScottWan

Mumbai, January 19, 2013: A 4-year-old girl was allegedly raped by the conductor of her school bus in Mumbai , a case of rape was registered against him, a senior police officer said on Saturday. Bus conductor Ramesh Rajput (35) allegedly raped the girl in suburban Juhu on Tuesday afternoon when children were being dropped back home, city Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said.

WilliamBarnes
WilliamBarnes

Oh, yeah. There's one more thing. This is also a very good example of how the internet is impacting on people's lives across the globe. Look at the present situation of the rapists in India. "Kill them!"/"Don't Kill Them" etc. fueled by WHAT? The world's indignation (= ? = virtually-imported rage and hate vengeance killers) at such atrocity presented by 'you know who...........google (or similar)! Probably, if the internet hadn't presented all this scrutiny in its gory glory to the public eye, the proceedings wouldn't have gone as far as they have, almost to the tone of an international virtual witch hunt "Kill the Rapists before they Get You (over there)!" Well, it promises to get worse before it gets better.

jalees_rehman
jalees_rehman

@faraway67 Sorry, I just retweeted it with the unshortened URL. Thanks!

neonTiger
neonTiger

Yeah in Gujarat it's probably only Hindu women who are safe. Rape is high among minority and lower caste women. Considering the appalling sex ratio as a result of abortion of female fetuses, I would not call Gujarat a state 'safe for women'. The young girl you met has probably been lucky so far.

rohit57
rohit57

@TizzAlNabi should public policy in Muslim countries be created by the western press? do you wonder why the r e is resentment?

of course women should be protected. but the only country to nuke human beings might consider being bit more modest.

Kathymiller94
Kathymiller94

@ScottWan They need to burn the males that rape these women.  Oh the smell of fresh roasted NUTS on a rapist.

FreeIndia
FreeIndia

@EnticingHavoc  We shouldn't forget the amount of "freedom" that women have in Saudi Arabia if we are comparing it with India at all.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@EnticingHavoc 

In Saudi Arabia, "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" is still literally practiced.

Furthermore, women can still be stoned for disobeying their husbands/other male authority figures/other males in general.

Given that, are you sure that you still believe Saudi Arabia's model is a "success?"

sumitron_2k@hotmail.com
sumitron_2k@hotmail.com

@jensha7 you might not know this but a lot of south india is christian by religion and they are the most conservative bunch I have seen (even more than muslims and hindus.- you can compare them to amish ) ..so religion is bs..its just mis-interpretations of all religions by certain sections in their society

RapeVictim
RapeVictim

@ScottWanThanks you for bringing these incidents to light on a daily basis. Your reporting gives strength to the victims and their families to speak up. And let the victims know that we are with them.

faraway67
faraway67

@jalees_rehman Ah, thanks ;-)

Belisarius86
Belisarius86

@rohit57

The fact that we've nuked human beings means little. Death by nuclear blast is probably more quick and merciful than death by the conventional weapons of the day, or by disease, or by starvation. All of which have been used to kill several orders-of-magnitude more people in the past century.

All that being said, I agree with your first point. 

solamiga
solamiga

@GeorgieBC ...Working now, thanks