I happen to come across a viral video that has Barkha Dutt (NDTV reporter), Leslee Udwin (filmmaker, India’s Daughter) and Norah O Connell (CBS) discussing the 2012 gangrape.
Norah O Connell talked about the tragic circumstances of Jyoti and her family as well as women’s safety in India. She said “India is so unsafe for women“. At that moment Ms Dutt jumped up in defense and said, “India had a female leader four decades ago” and “US and UK have more sexual assault cases compared to India” to applause from the audience. While doing it she also proclaimed that she’s not trying to be patriotic.
It is indeed disturbing to know that India is generalised as a rape nation since a case as brutal as December 16th happened. Not to mention that an Indian male student was denied internship in Germany because of the “rape problem” in India. She is right when it comes to the generalisation of India as a rape nation. People and media should stop doing that. However, what she said also made me cringe.
Sexual assault in India is hardly reported
Ms Dutt claimed that UK and US have more sexual assault cases. The way sexual assault cases are handled in India is just barbarous starting from the police station till the court. A woman’s freedom is limited to the four walls in her home, her sindoor and the number of male bodyguards around her. If she chooses not to follow any of that and if it leads to rape then she is blamed for it.
The fact is that in India, very few cases on sexual assault are reported. In the US, 70 out of every 100 sexual assault cases are reported. Whereas in India the statistics didn’t increase from 13% until after the 2012 Delhi gangrape case.
We have a variety of misogyny that the West does not face
In India, there are various other forms of violence which Ms Dutt conveniently ignored. We still practice several traditions of misogyny including dowry, female foeticide, infanticide, honour killing and child marriages. “Bringing a daughter up is like watering your neighbour’s plant” is the general idea that sums up the way our culture looks at a girl child.
Our sex ratio is unbalanced, and the fundamental everyday freedoms of women are severely restricted. However, these problems do not exist at such high alert levels in the US and UK.
Having a woman prime minister did not help the cause of millions of regular women
Even though India had a female prime minister, it did not help the nation improve on the status of all its women. Even now, the number of women representatives in the parliament is less than 11%.
Apart from this, girls have to fight for their very basic rights including education. The school dropout rates of girls is higher than that of boys especially at high school levels. However, these problems, are far less defined in the western world.
Also, we face the added burden of caste and religion which further sets its own restrictions on women, preventing their participation in politics or any other media. This is not the case in the West where the opportunities are much higher.
Having said that, it is extremely important to end rape culture. The rape culture can only end if everyone works together against it. That platform was apt for the raising the issues that’s still undermining gender equality India.
Featured Image Credit: Barkha Dutt, Leslee Udwin, the director of banned documentary “India’s Daughter” and Norah O’Donnell of CBS (Source: Women In The World /YouTube)