What Ram Singh’s Life—and Death—Says About Violence and Inequity in India

  • Share
  • Read Later

A green tongue of water winds through Kalla Dhey, a patchwork of mud-walled houses and small fields in Karauli district in India’s northern Rajasthan state. The water, covered with algae, separates a few unlucky households from the rest of Karauli. During the monsoon, the green water rises, and the inhabitants are marooned on their temporary island, cut off for weeks at a time. Not long ago, residents say, a woman in labor had to be ferried in an inner tube to the other shore to get to a road that leads to the hospital.

During the dry season, a flimsy bridge of matted grass over the low river links Kalla Dhey to the rest of Karauli. In recent weeks, an unprecedented number of visitors have made their way over that bridge and along the dusty footpaths, past the sunlit fields of yellow mustard flowers and the faraway sound of kids at play. On a dirt outcropping stands a mud-walled shack with a sagging roof, windows covered in tarp when nobody’s home. It’s not much different than any other house around it, except for the strangers who keep knocking at its door, and the fact that two of the men who grew up here—brothers—have been accused of perpetrating one of the most heinous crimes in the history of modern India.

(MORE: Another Outrage: Delhi Bus Rape Suspect Found Dead)

One of the brothers was Ram Singh, a bus driver who was found hanged in his cell in New Delhi in the early morning of March 11. Singh, 34, was being held in the capital’s Tihar Jail for his alleged role in the brutal rape that occurred on Dec. 16, when a 23-year-old woman walked out of a mall in the Indian capital with her friend, a 28-year-old man, after watching Life of Pi. Five of the six men charged with the rape and the murder that followed—the young woman died less than two weeks later—have been on trial since January. The sixth suspect is being charged and tried separately as a juvenile; all had pleaded not guilty. With Singh’s death, part of that case is closed, and, if he were guilty, he can no longer be brought to justice. But his story remains a parable about how violence, sexism, inequity and a lack of law and order intersected in India that Dec. 16 night—and a harbinger of what could yet happen again.

THE RAPE
Once the couple left the mall, they ended up at a bus stop, where a white bus with yellow curtains pulled up and a young man inside called out that the bus was going their way. They climbed aboard, and at 9.24 p.m., according to police documents, the bus started moving. Over the next half hour, the woman and man were robbed, stripped and assaulted by the six males on board as the bus meandered through streets of an affluent area of India’s capital, passing cars, homes and pedestrians. The man was beaten, and the woman, a student, was raped multiple times, including with two metal rods that ripped apart her intestines. Both victims were thrown out, naked and bleeding, of the moving bus on an empty overpass. At 10:21 p.m., the New Delhi police received a call about two people bleeding on the street.

The crime sparked massive, nationwide protests for weeks, with men and women flooding India’s streets to demand swift justice for the young woman who fought her attackers fiercely, and for an overhaul to a legal system that has allowed violence against women all too often to go unpunished. A special fast-track court was set up for the case. In keeping with Indian law regarding rape cases, the trial has been closed to the media, and the two victims have not been identified by name by most Indian media outlets.

That six individuals allegedly conspired in this brutal crime, and that these extremely violent sexual assaults happen with alarming regularity across India, have raised unsettling questions about the underlying attitudes in India of men toward women. In 2011 more than 24,000 rapes were documented—one every 20 minutes. In New Delhi alone, of more than 600 cases filed last year, just one resulted in a conviction. But the Dec. 16 atrocity is more than another depressing statistic. It has spotlighted how weak law enforcement and a creaky legal system have create space for a sense of impunity to fester, and it indirectly exposes the plight of legions of people in urban India who don’t have access to the same opportunities or protection as the elite. The sustained outrage over Dec. 16 has many Indians holding out hope – however fragile – there is no going back. “We can’t be more desensitized than we have been over the years,” says Ranjana Kumari, director of the Center for Social Research, a think tank in New Delhi. “Things have to improve. This is the beginning of a change.”

MORE: Should the Indian Gang-Rape Victim Remain Anonymous?

  1. Previous
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
37 comments
AaronC
AaronC

From An Indian man who has lived in India


I think a lot of Indians need to bear some sort of responsibility for the atrocious act. Many parents in India (especially the north half where it is worse than the south) raise boys differently compared to girls. There are given extra attention, extra love, even extra food at times, all at the expense of the young girl. They grow up feeling entitled, that they are better than women and women are just mere objects. Even when the parents die they give their land and possessions all to the son, while the girls are married off and in the "possesion" of their new husband's. So this comes to me as no surprise. This upbringing has led to many men in india being chauvinistic and misogynisitic. (Now I know I shouldn't generalize all Indian men are bad and that we have hugely diverse country with 32 official languages and whatever 56 religions and all the jazz) but this patriarchy exists in many parts of India. I find it hard to defend India anymore and even harder to call this an isolated incident even though there are hundreds of millions of good men in India. 

Another thing is that laws don't do anything in India. So that really would not cause a shift. The implementation of laws of any kind by police officers or authority in India is poor. A bribe and you are free. Also, many ten of thousands of cases are not reported because it would take decades to go through the courts. 

PS to all the radical ultra Indian nationalists on this thread, I know rape exists in all parts of the world (ie. the ohio case in america and the britisher raped in Spain). The difference is a significant amount of men in India actually do it because they inherently feel they are superior to women and it is ingrained in their mind that women are pieces of meat. Women are not treated equally as men in many parts of India. How can we change for the better, if you people don't recognize it exists?  


jagmehta
jagmehta

Futile talk regarding System improvement While RAPES ARE HAPPENING AS WE SPEAK.

Now TOURISTS are being raped.

NO JURY SHOULD BE REQUIRED  IF A RAPE HAS TAKEN PLACE & THERE IS EVIDENCE as in the case of DELHI rape. 

 A SUMMARY CONVICTION AND PUNISHMENT MUST FOLLOW POST HASTE WITHOUT ANY  JUDICIAL RECOURSE.

THE ONLY WAY TO KILL A SERPENT IS TO CRUSH IT'S HEAD

MANY A MEMBER of the The GOVERNMENT AT VARYING LEVELS are facing RAPE CHARGES which in indicative  why the Goverment is  UNWILLING / UNABLE to follow through

, IMPOSING AND CARRYING OUT  DEATH PENALITY OR MANDATORY CASTRATION. BOTH PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL will put the Fear of GOD......

.REFORMS WILL AUTOMATICALLY FOLLOW

yy
yy

"The Lowest Animal" --

"Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. It is a trait that is not known to the higher animals." 

21stcentury
21stcentury

Those 2 metal rods indicate the lowest level of barbaric viciousness. The punishment of these men should be severe enough to deter similar treatment of women. The perpetrators should be put to death and their families give monetary restitution to the victims' families. Long ago man parts were cut off and fed to the dogs as a deterrent to crime. Perhaps Indian men only understand this kind of punishment.



thewholetruth
thewholetruth

Any country in the world that has a weak Justice system will have these problems, India has a very weak Justice system when it comes to women. In many countries in the world women are not respected by the Law. The sin of man is the same since man was created. These Judges are not Judges at all...Man's Justice is not God's Justice.  It is all in the Word of God. 

Proverbs 17:23 Corrupt judges accept secret bribes, and then justice is not done



AsadAijaz
AsadAijaz

They should be stoned to death. 

SuZieCoyote
SuZieCoyote

.” Madhu Purnima Kishwar, an academic and writer based in New Delhi, says places like Ravidas forge “rudderless” and “brutalized” young men who are products of a weak education system and a failure to lift up rural livelihoods. “It’s not just a case of the law failing; it’s the policies,” says Kishwar. “You have to look at the inner health of your society. They are also victims.”

BS.  They had a choice and they chose to rape and beat other human beings.  They are not "also victims."  They didn't get what they thought they were owed in life and so brutally ended the life of a "lesser" other - a woman. 

cmas1998
cmas1998

You cannot change overnight which is genetically engrained into Indian Mens heads that if you want sex take it by force if necessary. Normal behaviour in India condoned by the police and high officials. They are""all"" involved!

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

India is consumed with worshipping false Idols, which encourages demonic activity. The results in their society are self-evident............

...........1 Corinthians 10:20...........

Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.

j45ashton
j45ashton

I've made several business trips to India, all over.  For most westerners I think conditions are eye opening...the wide spread poverty & public health issues juxtaposed with enclaves of great wealth are both astonishing & unsettling. Despite so many problems I always found the people friendly and greatly poised.  Although I worked closely with folks, still I was an outsider.  So there is much I don't know.  Because of all this, I find the recent reports of atrocity related to rape much more than shocking.  In the past there have been outbreaks of violence associated with with religious-cultural differences, and I have seen labor and political unrest firsthand.  I can understand all of this in a general way, but not the atrocities related to rape.  I'm hoping that some folks on this site can perhaps offer some insight about why all this is happening or coming to light.

JitooParekh
JitooParekh

Her Uterus was yanked off and thrown out of the Running Bus.

SuhailShafi
SuhailShafi

The government of India and all the law enforcement agencies of India should take a tough line against sexual violence and try to give the victims all the necessary support they need. The time to stamp out such behaviour is NOW !

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

That guy was under trial for one of the most heinous crimes.  He knew his end is going to be worst and killed himself.  Please, for heaven sake stop mourning the death of that person.  Stop using it to spill Ur Venom against India.  God know what's it that's sooo bothering U guys about India.

JamesPuaKeaweehu
JamesPuaKeaweehu

I will never ever visit India - they can that piece of hell hole in Asia. 

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@21stcentury The problem is not talking about the crime.  But the problem with people like U is bringing in the phrase "Indian Men".  As if the whole country and the entire male population is made of monsters and U guys are saints sitting in other countries.

In India if one person is a criminal then perhaps 1000s of men worship women, respect women.  Y can't U guys at the least have the brains to understand that simple point that everybody in the society is not a criminal.

seth.v
seth.v

@SuZieCoyote

Madhu Kishwar's observation is seemingly lost on you. She makes her remark from a social engineering point of view that takes poverty, education, and general hopelessness into account while you're seeing everything from either black or white perspective  Yes, they chose to do what they did and they would get punished for that. In future, more would commit such crimes and those would be punished as well. 

What this law and punishment process does not and cannot fix is the conditions that give rise to such monstrosity in down-trodden people. In that sense they are also a victim of a progressive society that completely neglects to take any responsibility towards the downtrodden even when it shares the same space with them. 

The gist here is that stringent laws alone cannot act as a barrier to prevent crimes. That is even more true in country full of 1.21 billion+ people.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@Crossroads U know the problem with U is that U don't want to understand the philosophy of other religions.  U just want to criticize it. 

Let me ask U one thing, Y is that there are Idols of Mother Mary and Cross in a Church?  How do U explain them?  Do U call them false Idols?  So, on what basis do U want to name Hindu Gods as false Idols?

People and civilizations who boast on democracy should first learn Tolerance of believes and faith.

U can straight away be deported to Hell for eternity for calling GODs, (be it of any religion) as demons.

U believe in Christianity evident from Ur profile picture.  That's fine and that's what a person should do, believe in the faith which suits them and follow that faith.  But it's completely undemocratic and barbaric to condemn the faith of others.

Hinduism clearly states in Vedas that GOD is ONE.  But it gives U a choice of worship, in the form U like and in the way U like.  In fact in Bhagawad Geeta LORD Krishna clearly states that a person shouldn't worship GOD in the way which doesn't suit him.

I don't understand Ur problem with Hinduism because Hinduism doesn't condemn any faith or religion at all.  That's why U find many Hindus visiting Church as tourists, or guests for Christian Weddings.  We appreciate Ur worship, in fact enjoy it and come back undeterred.

Back HOME we worship GOD in the way we like.  That's called Democracy, Tolerance, Civilized thought.  These things come to U if they are imbibed in the very core of Ur culture like Indian Culture, from time immemorial.  It doesn't come to U simply by calling Urself Democratic and Civilized, for namesake.

ajay0919
ajay0919

@Crossroads .....and you dont worship any idols in your religion.   Pamela Anderson???..........


perdiff
perdiff

@Crossroads So which bible passages do you Christians use to rape kids in Churches?

sumitron_2k@hotmail.com
sumitron_2k@hotmail.com

@j45ashton Helloo ashton. Rapes occur in every society and areas of the world but the primary thing which prevents such things happenings in the developed world is law which not only identifies and catches such people but is able to swiftly punish them. In places like India people more often commit such crimes as they are sure they wont get caught..and if they do get caught they might be able to use the loopholes in the law to escape this. Say for this instance the group of villagers might have thought its easy to commit this heinous crime as they wont get caught as it was a jungle and this might go as an unreported crime. Similarly in Delhi rape case the accused were sure that cops wont be able to catch hold of them,

There might be people who might say its about Indian society etc..and yes there is an element of that where India is at a cross roads where the society is opening up to western thoughts..but not everyone is developing at the same pace.

CLPathak
CLPathak

@NandaKishoreN If it makes you feel better, when I lived in India I found the vast majority of people to be very kind and I married a saint.

santoshjohnsamuel
santoshjohnsamuel

Spot on Ajay. And these religious fundamentalists are the greatest threat to people being put off by religion per se, and that's a tragedy.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@sumitron_2k@hotmail.com @j45ashton I strongly object Ur last line, which reads ...

"where the society is opening up to western thoughts..but not everyone is developing at the same pace."

Please NOTE that India is developing Economically.  But Indian culture is going to remain the same.  Opening up to Western Thoughts might imply that understanding the Western Thought.  But the core values of culture are not something which need to drastically change into the western thought.  We just need to get rid of some of the practices to make the society better.

And if U r suggesting that developing implies adopting the Western Thought.  Then that's I'm afraid I don't agree to it.  Any society must adapt in the modern world while maintaining it's culture.

soulwarrior92
soulwarrior92

He's an idiot, than what do you think people should do, praise India? It is obvious incidents like this will make people in other countries afraid of visiting, and if you feel differently, then do something and change your country, ya?

JasonShal
JasonShal

@NandaKishoreN @JamesPuaKeaweehu  

 That's right.  The illiterate nature of JamesPuaKeaweehu's comment passed right by your oh so insightful self  ... and straight to racism you go!

After the abhorrent behaviour making the front pages recently, I too have no desire to visit India.  Imagine my surprise to learn that my grad degree in stigma was all a front for an obvious racist.  Given Jame's ethnic name, your outrage has its own stink of racism ... just sayin ..

sumitron_2k@hotmail.com
sumitron_2k@hotmail.com

@NandaKishoreN @sumitron_2k@hotmail.com @j45ashton Mr Nanda Kishore you can happily object to my thoughts and thats why its a free world where everyone is free to his opinion. I too object to your statement where you say Indian culture is going to remain the same. Only thing constant is change. The current Indian culture is a culmination of Ancient Indian culture , Mughal culture british culture and now newer influences are getting introduced each day. Eg. Parda & ghungat was brought on by Mughals and now deeply ingrained in India.there are countless other stuff

I do agree that core values need not be changed but they do change in real life. There are good & bad things in western thoughts and its upto the people what they consume and replicate. Developing doesnt mean adapting to western world..developing means adopting a way of living where everyone has equal rights , freedom to speech expression etc and are capable of ensuring they complete their responsibilities.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@soulwarrior92 I'll tell U what to do.  Blame the entire country of 1.5 billion population.  Crime numbers in India might seem high but that's because of the Over population.

About doing something to change our country, that's what we are trying to do.  But people keep spreading hatred towards us might make us respond.  That's the least we can do.

Talking of crimes and being afraid?  Why don't U talk about Indians being killed rampantly in Western Countries?

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@JasonShal So Mr.Jason, what U r saying is Calling Asia as a Hell-Hole  is fine?  

And where did I mention anything about any race?  

And when some crime happened in some part of the world and somebody like @JamesPuaKeaweehu altogether makes a comment about not visiting that country, what wud U like to call that attitude?

And U find that stink of racism in my comment.  Well, wonder where did the seeds of hatred start?  It's towards India started in the Western Countries.

@NandaKishoreN