Rape Case in India: Why I Care

It has been on my mind for days now. The details that I can obtain from the story are sketchy at best,  a 23 year old woman in New Delhi India was raped by six men on a bus and died later in hospital.  Why did we in Canada hear about it? Women and men are raped every day. Possibly because of the brutality of the rape; it might speak to a systemic problem in the protection and safety of women; how the law treats the attackers of this young woman and her companion is certainly an issue.

Looking today for more information about the case, I came across a comment (CBC News) that addressed the very core of the matter: why are we still hearing about this?  Women are raped every day.  Why do we still care?

I know we should, but before writing this I couldn’t clearly identify why this case resonated with me. The attack has been in the paper less than a month, and already people want to forget.  Even talking with friends, there is the sense that it is a horrific topic and best left to fade away (6 men, a rod, organ damage, half of her intestines needed to be taken out- are almost too taboo to talk about). Such is the leisure of living in a relatively safe country.

I am reminded of Martin Niemoller’s famous poem:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

By doing nothing, saying nothing we consent to brutality. We shouldn’t forget and we need to act. To stand with our brothers and sisters in India to say something must be done.  Already the protests and vigils are having some effect.  I read on One Website (ABC News), that lawyers have refused to represent the 6 men (correction: five men and one 17 year old boy).  I would argue the men deserve legal counsel- the verdict of the case is the most important part of the conclusion to this tragedy. Aljazeera claims that the men will be executed if they are found guilty.  Legal change and stronger protection for all Indian citizens would be the best way to honour the victims.

I am a mother.  Being a parent connects you more strongly with humanity.  When a child is lost in the mall- it is your child; a child giggles or smiles one is flooded with fond memories of their own child at that age. When my little girl was three I decided to become a foster parent to a little girl in India of the same age.  It was a small act, but I wanted to share the opportunity my little girl would have with a little girl that I believed could benefit from our help. She is family- extended and global. She lives in India, and she too will grow up into a beautiful young woman, and I care about the quality of her life.

Rape is a crime of control.  It is a weapon in war: to control, to terrorise to humiliate. From my understanding it is one reason that the United States won’t allow their female soldiers to fight in ground combat. When a country is not in war, the intent is still the same; it is a form of control.  If people are afraid of being attacked, they are less likely to leave the safety of their own environment. If women are afraid of being attacked and raped, they will stay at home. Choice and freedom are taken away. In Canada we have marches that are called ‘Take Back the Night,’ in which people hold vigil and march to fight this form of control. To talk about it, does keep it relevant and part of the discussion.

My heart goes out to the family, the young man that tried to defend her and all the other men and women that have suffered the same violence.  Thank you to the media and the men and women of India that are standing up against this crime of control and saying- enough.

In a country where the main architectural symbol, the Taj Mahal, is a tribute to beloved spouse, it is important for the government and the courts to communicate that a woman’s life has as much worth living as dead.


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