Not Again: A Gang Rape in Mumbai Leaves India Reeling

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Inside a leafy Mumbai square normally accustomed to shrill sloganeering, a crowd protested on Friday with unsettling silence. As cameramen crawled along the fringes and policemen muttered into their walkie-talkies, protestors sat still, holding signs that declared Mumbai — widely believed to be one of India’s safest cities — the country’s new rape capital.

They had gathered to demand justice for a young photojournalist who was reportedly gang-raped while her male colleague was tied and beaten in an abandoned textile mill compound in Mumbai. The woman, a 23-year-old intern with a Mumbai-based English-language magazine, was attacked around 7PM on Thursday evening when she was taking photographs for an assignment about housing for textile mill workers in the city’s Lower Parel neighborhood, an area known for its offices, malls and restaurants. Satyapal Singh, Mumbai’s police commissioner, said on Friday afternoon that one of the accused had been arrested and four others had been identified. The woman, who suffered multiple injuries, he said, was recovering.

The incident occurred less than a year after widespread protests followed the horrifying case of a 23-year-old student who was fatally gang raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, and only a few months after a new sexual offence law was passed to impose heavier punishments for violence against women.

Despite new laws and public outrage, the constant presence of crimes against women is indicative of a culture rooted in patriarchy and impunity, says journalist Kalpana Sharma. “It has become clear that regardless of laws, a combination of political patronage, wealth and power means you can get away with anything,” says Sharma, who writes about developmental issues for the Hindu and has co-edited a book about women in Indian journalism. “When you combine a culture of patriarchy and impunity, we are left in this situation where every woman is in danger.”

Some in India worried today that brutal gang rapes are becoming a norm. “This is something that was seen during communal [religious] violence,” says Albeena Shakil, a women’s rights activist who has researched the low conviction rate of crime against women. “Now it has acquired a sense of a male collective which is taking the form of a backlash against the changing status of women in this country.”

Others say the efforts to spark lasting change for the safety of women in India are constantly up against a deep-seated gender bias.  “You see this in a lot of school textbooks, the way women are portrayed — the woman is always the homemaker and the man is always the earner and this sort of gender-bias seeps in from a very young age,” says Pronoti Datta, a journalist who worked in the same magazine as the rape survivor and who was at Friday’s protest in Mumbai.  “Policing is important. We need a better conviction rate and better evidence gathering. But the reasons underlying rape go far deeper.”

223 comments
AdvaitaShetty
AdvaitaShetty

I have lived in India, middle t and pacific and no doubt i wont be comfortable going out late in India. There is always a sense of insecurity. I feel most of these criminals come from a poor background with lack of knowledge about laws, no moral upbringings and lack of exposure to sex education as well. Moreover, when the government bodies itself can escape after killing innocent men and women in the name of justice , what are people to learn from them? It is also a historic problem of patriarchy and impunity where males have always had dominance in India. I think a punishment should change an individual for the better not worst. The 17 year old involved in the Delhi gang rape will come out after 3 years as a better person? Is that what the law expects after he is exposed to other criminals while at jail? The roots need to be fixed if you want a healthy plant.

RaRaRia
RaRaRia

Low conviction rates and these horrendous acts are in danger of becoming the norm in what was supposed to be the safest city in India---imagine how it is in the other cities, towns, villages. This disgusting belief of women being less than is kept alive by continuing to feed the ego of men in every aspect, from education to laws. In a country where women are trying to even the playing field, if these deeply embedded cultural notions are not squashed violence against women, especially those who are educated and successful, will only continue and escalate. What a sad state of affairs when a country refuses to move forward. Prayers to a country of women who STILL battle to be seen as HUMAN and not an object.

PrabuddhaGhosh
PrabuddhaGhosh

In a society where the poor cannot afford to get married and casual sex is frowned about these roblems will arise. Many of our problems are arising because India is changing fast and in an ununiform manner. While in other countries you might have had paternalism or feminism at some part of their history as the dominant social norm in India both are in existence cheek by jowl. Many sections of urban Indian society are totally westernized where a women wearing hotpants would be considerd weather appropriate clothing while in other sections even Hindus wear the Burkha (its called Purdah). Problem is with rapid urbanization both these societies are living next to each other. This is especially true of Mumbai which has Apartments costing more than Manhattan and Asia's largest slums right next to each other. If the modern Indian society wants to feel safe they cannot keep ignoring the sea of poverty around them. They need to give up some of their luxuries (basically stop cheating on taxes to buy BMWs) so that money can be spent on education of the poor people as well as creating affordable housing so that people dont have to live like animals. Otherwise all their BMWs and AC apartments and gated compounds will not save their daughters for if you force men to live like animals they behave worse than animals for being men they know they are being forced to live as animals (people living in a slum with no sanitation cant be said to be living as animals). While stronger law enforcement is needed, enforcement alone never solves these issues, education and societal change alone can do so but for that the Indian elite have to learn to share.

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

Self reflection needed Ahmed re your own words: " you cant change someone else opinion unless he (emphasis on gender) changes it himself" Rape however remains rape, and until you realize what it does to the victim, you might then be able to get passed the idea that clothing - as per your original statement- does not stop anyone from raping. Its a heinous crime about power over someone else. End of story! A very wise person once told me you cant argue with a drunk as it will get you nowhere... I feel this is the same case here... So this will be my last post .

Ahmed Ashref
Ahmed Ashref

-You can't say:" I'm not understanding " you can say " I don't understand " -Never mind ! it just seems that you can't change someone else opinion unless he changes it himself.

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

I am not understanding whAt the issue is here. It starts with the rapist... If there is self control on his/her part, respect for others, and taking responsibility there would be less rapes. Yes authorities have to step in to support victims, but it has nothing to do with hijabs, burqas etc. ... Please see latest posting re victim recovering. Clothes do not stop rapists from doing what they do.

Ahmed Ashref
Ahmed Ashref

"govts need to help eradicate such behaviour , at the same time protecting women." If you don't behave yourself , no one will behave you.They must be cracked down,and protecting women is what i am saying not what the goverments do .

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

Its not the solution AA.... its a rapists mind and body that needs to be controlled... Its called Self control! And respect for others.

RanjitNair
RanjitNair

There are many factors that abet rape in India like societal attitude towards women, poor enforcement of laws, and sexual repression, but the question we should be asking is why is there an increase in incidence of gang rape? 


What causes a group of men, sometimes strangers to each other, act in consort in such a brutal and sometimes unplanned way? And why are we seeing an increase in these numbers of late? 


Is it better media coverage, more reporting of the crime by victims, frustration at the increasing role of women in society? Or is it a group lashing out at a soft target, in frustration with their own unemployment and economic situation?

shyamchabra
shyamchabra

Time to examine the culture and some of those ridiculous films where women are treated as a form of plaything.India is still too primitive and dominated by a paternalistic attitude that wants above all else to obscure what is really wrong in the country.

Ahmed Ashref
Ahmed Ashref

I said they should cover their faces until they find a solution,and if you ask me.I think the solution would be in lethal force used by govt. to crack down the rapists. I gladly want to make some points about the hijab clear. Women do actually wear veils since the dawn of history,yes.It's not something special in religion.After the revolution against the corruption of the church in Europe,everything that seemed to have any link with religion have been fought since then,just like if you hurt yourself with a knife then you start cursing the knife and who made it,but it was all your fault. Wearing hijab or covering yourself from up to bottom has nothing to do with sex,it's just about slender sense.female's body is so much weaker than male's one.Female's hair by nature is also so long and it really looks creepy.If you try and pump some iron and cut your hair too short like a male,it would even make the female more creepier,so your only solution is to wear hijab.It's made to cover,cover what you don't want others to see.

silverose
silverose

Some Indian men just can't keep it in their pants long enough, can they? This is repelling. Why don't we have them suffer the same things that they made that poor girl suffer?

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

IT doesn't matter about the words... burqa or veil/shayla... I live in the UAE. There are a number of local women who don't wear the face covering here, and don't suffer. Why? It's called, for example, respect. The point here is that rapists are at fault, regardless that they watch porn etc. It's their choice to watch the porn and therefore their responsibility to control themselves. End of story. U might not do such a thing as rape, but sadly there are some sick minds/people out there that do.

Sudipto Paul
Sudipto Paul

clearly u hav nvr been to India........!!!!!!!!!! :|

LoriPetryshen
LoriPetryshen

An Indian friend of mine once told me, "Every Indian man is rapist, or a potential rapist." I ignored the comment as over the top but a recent report from Government of India concludes that 55% of children and women in India will face sexual abuse. The perpetrator will often be a family member or a close relative and the crime will never be reported. (Source: "Study on Child Abuse: India 2007". Published by the Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development)

2112kris
2112kris

Some posts have cited statistics as proof that India has a very low rate of rape, but that is not true. The higher the rate can mean the victims can report it because the government will protect them. Sweden has a higher percentage than the U.S. I felt so safe in Sweden. I visited Mumbai and didn't want to leave my hotel room after day two. I did not have catcalls and comments in Sweden but I was harassed in Mumbai.

Ahmed Ashref
Ahmed Ashref

I myself would never touch a woman even if she's totally naked as a female is just a human being just like me,but what are you just going to do with those who were raised on hollywood's porn movies ?! women in their eyes are just servants and sexual tools.And by the way,I didn't say veil,I meant the burqa which covers face.

Somebody_U_Don't_Know
Somebody_U_Don't_Know

Whatever and where ever this rape cases is going on.. its still horrible!! it's like making the country ur borned in and making ur own relatives be shamed of who ever is doing it. it's totally DISGUSTING! rapists must be HANG TO DEATH!.. i don't get 1 thing.. what rapists get after raping girl?.. its really stupid!! 

Wilfredo Garrido
Wilfredo Garrido

Now, we can generalize. Indians are maniacs. No, that is not politically correct. India is full of maniacs. There.

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

A very enlightened attitude Nageetah. Thumbs up!

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

Nageetah Israel above makes a very good point!

Tanya Gupta
Tanya Gupta

who watches porn! does it go to people or people watch it with intent! there is a lot of good things about western countries that gives them status of first world, indians don't copy that. they pick and choose what they want to and guess what they choose...dirt! why can't they copy western ethics, attitude and wisdom if they are so obsessed with west!

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar

I wonder if there is a correlation between free access to internet porn in a country and sexual crimes

daena.vassar
daena.vassar

This is nothing more than a bunch of horny criminals, symptomatic of a society that doesn't yet have consistent stringent rape crime laws and a culture that does not empower women to defend themselves.

Nayeer Rafa
Nayeer Rafa

I hope the protest will actually do the good it needs to do :/

BansalMishra
BansalMishra

Jharkhand policewoman gangraped

A tribal policewoman in her 20s was gangraped National Highway-75 on the outskirts of Latehar, 180 km from Ranchi, when she was accompanying her family members carry her younger sister’s body from Ranchi to Garhwa for burial on Thursday night.

Em Dodds
Em Dodds

Sadly, Ahmed, even women wearing the veil does not prevent such a heinous act. Why put this on the women, anyway? Its the rapists themselves that require the focus and are at fault, plus govts need to help eradicate such behaviour, at the same time protecting women.

Debarshi Chakrabarti
Debarshi Chakrabarti

Let the law take its own course...and demand better facilities to law enforcement agencies....

Bob Millar
Bob Millar

USA is #3 in rapes - in the entire world. :(

Jeanette Krige
Jeanette Krige

Because problems have existed for a long time does not mean we should not make a point of seeking to eradicate them. Your posts seem to portray an insensitivity to the magnitude of this problem at this time in history.

Jeanette Krige
Jeanette Krige

Thank you for this focus. We need to eradicate rape worldwide!

Ben Saini
Ben Saini

Mumbai one big vile self proclaimed lawless invasive indiscriminate casting couch!

Ahmed Ashref
Ahmed Ashref

You can just do nothing but that.it's the only way to prevent rape,I think.

JordanDrexler
JordanDrexler

@PrabuddhaGhosh  @PrabuddhaGhosh poverty is not what makes a man a rapist.  rape is about power, NOT sex.  so how does getting married have ANYTHING to do with rape?  most rapists in america are actually married and have means to sex with their married partner.  BUT, this is not satisfying to a RAPIST because he needs to feel a sense of power over a victim...which he cant feel if the sex is consensual.  The problem with India is 1) apparently their current notions on rape, and 2) EXACTLY what the author quoted a woman saying: "Now it has acquired a sense of a male collective which is taking the form of a backlash against the changing status of women in this country."  Because men feel a loss of power, some CREEPS are violent towards women because they want to feel some sick sense of power again.

Fed_Up1
Fed_Up1

@Ahmed Ashref Men are raping like animals, & your immediate solution is for WOMEN to COVER UP? Clothes are already more modest in India than elsewhere. The only people who think that clothes have anything to do with it, or that women can fix things all by themselves, are the people who are the problem.

JordanDrexler
JordanDrexler

@LoriPetryshen unfortunately, the statistics are very high as well where i live: america.  1 in 4 women will fall victim to sexual assault in her lifetime.  1 in every ten rapes is a man, so you do the math as to how many more women are raped than men.  99.9% of rapists are men.  sometimes, thinking about this makes me so sad that i cant bear to live on the same planet as these sickos

RaRaRia
RaRaRia

@LoriPetryshen that is so mindblowing in its stark reality. i'm so deeply saddened that in India men are revered as Gods in their home but 1/2 men behave like a demon.  Absolutely revolting.

Fed_Up1
Fed_Up1

@Ahmed Ashref None of the men I know from America are rapists - & we're from where the Hollywood movies come from! Our rape problem isn't NEARLY as bad as yours - & that's saying something!

silverose
silverose

@Somebody_U_Don't_Know They get the momentary feeling of the most heavenly bliss, while the victim gets the lifetime trauma of the minutes of sheer nightmare.

najav12
najav12

@AhsanKhan IT's your people that were the rapists in Mumbai. You people also dominte that underworld. And all the terrorists in India are also dominated by your people. Maybe partition would have been complete

LoriPetryshen
LoriPetryshen

@Sanju John Vargeese It's not a competition.