I’m sitting here, in Southern India, trying to catch up on all the news I’ve missed (living in the rural areas seems to have its downsides). It looks like I’ve missed a lot. Most of Delhi is protesting against something big and for once it’s not about the power cuts.
A girl died on Saturday of organ failure, two weeks after she was horrendously assaulted and gang-raped on a bus on her way home. It isn’t just Delhi that is united, but India as a nation has awoken to the injustice and is marching on its streets for better security and better policing. It’s not just this woman’s plight, it’s come to embody wider issues of security, tolerance and gender equality.
It is awful that it has taken this long and for this girl to die to shake the system. I know that the political parties here will undoubtedly use her death in some way to further their own policies and somehow lose the reality of her suffering within all the dialogue. They need to re-address security policies, mourn her death and stay the hell away from politicising her abuse.
Rape is not an acknowledged subject here. It isn’t something that is talked about in India, hell it’s not even talked about in the UK very much. People try and avoid the topic as much as they can, leaving the abused alone and without support. The number of reported cases of rape is slowly rising, but we have to remember that reported cases rarely lead to conviction. The social stigma attached to rape still exists to the point that in some rural parts of the world, it is more acceptable to stay quiet than to come out and bear the shame that seems to come with admitting that you have been violated. To declare to the world that someone has taken a piece of you away is harder than it seems, especially in a community where virginity is preserved and valued. The system is rotten.
There is something wrong with a world and a national culture, where a girl would rather hang herself from the shame and trauma experienced through rape than pursue justice by reporting the crime. Perhaps what needs to be changed are not the policies and security issues, but the overall mind-set of the country. This national psychosis, so uneasily brought up through this attack, must be tackled and the underlying gender hierarchy debunked. As crowds march on Delhi, the previously avoided conversations of equality and personal security have been finally brought to the fore.
I hope that the new year helps to bring forward a new, revised mind-set and a fresh India.
Girl with no name, rest in peace.