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A woman who was raped by her friend in India, and who is now dealing with a case in the High Court, is telling her story to the Women in the World audience. The lights are out. Her back is to the audience. And we don’t know her name. This is what the livestream looks like at the moment. She is doing this as a precautionary measure fearing backlash from her own people. Such a brave woman.
Anuradha Roy writes about the tragic fatal rape in India, where crimes against women are routinely ignored (if not encouraged) by the ruling class:
Is it any surprise that the men brutalizing a woman with a rusted rod thought they could get away with it? They may not have known there were 300 potential or actual rapists making the laws, nor the precise numbers that show the conviction rate for rape dropping from 46 percent to 26 percent over the last 40 years. But they would have known that it’s a pretty safe bet to rape a woman, scoot, and start the cycle afresh. Fifty percent of India’s population lives with this knowledge: its women.
In such a world, what woman can survive harm? There is not a single female friend of mine who hasn’t been molested. It’s called “eve-teasing” here, conjuring up images of dalliance under apple trees. Even 20 years ago, our journeys to and from college were daily nausea. We were used to having men brush against our breasts, grope, catcall, leer, and press their erections against us when there was no escape in the crush of a crowded bus. Sharp hairpins and elbows came in handy, but otherwise there wasn’t much help. We couldn’t have gone to the police, we’d have been laughed right out of the station. Yet we considered ourselves lucky. There were other women, those that were allowed to be born at all—India comes out tops in the female foeticide ratings—who were being beaten or burned or sold or raped.
India’s Pink Gang, the largest women’s vigilante group in the world, shames abusive husbands and corrupt politicians by going door-to-door clad in electric pink saris and wielding sticks called laathis—the same sticks used by local cops when patrolling their beat. Recently, they’ve gained political clout by winning seats in the panchayat elections—the equivalent of American municipality elections.
Great piece from Amana Fontanella-Khan on India’s pink gang—which happens to be the largest vigilante group in the world. (Photo by Fontanella-Khan)
Indian officials worry that the Obama team does not have the same fundamental orientation as the Bush administration regarding India’s role in the 21st century. Some Obama officials publicly criticized the nuclear deal championed by George W. Bush, a deal that the Indians regard as basic recognition of their status as a major power. They worry that a Democratic administration could succumb to protectionism. They worry that it is too cozy with China.
These concerns will pass as the two sides get to know each other better. The more lasting danger is that the Obama administration, now intensely focused on the war in Afghanistan, will look at South Asia largely through that prism. Since Washington desperately needs Pakistan’s cooperation in that conflict, it is tending to adopt Pakistan’s concerns as its own, which is producing a perverse view of the region.
In his leaked report, Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that “increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures.” This is a bizarre criticism. India is the hegemon of South Asia, with enormous influence throughout the subcontinent. Its GDP is 100 times that of Afghanistan (that is not a typo). As Afghanistan opened itself up after the fall of the Taliban, the cuisine, movies, and money that flowed into the country were, naturally, Indian. This is like noting that the United States has had growing influence in Mexico over the last few decades.
Fareed, on Obama’s approach to India