31 December 2012

Indian Tragedy Causes Mass Demonstrations Against Gender Violence

The last days of 2012 were days of sorrow for many Indians, after a young girl was cruelly raped and beaten  to death. This tragic crime has affected people over the whole country, and many have taken to the streets to show their grief and rage.
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Barbaric gang-rape
On December 16 a female paramedic student was raped and brutally assaulted by six men in New Dehli. She was severely hurt, and a wave of anger and shock at the men's cruelty spread over India. People of all ages and classes gathered in mass demonstrations  in New Dehli and many other places to demand forceful actions from police and authorities.

The rapists are now under arrest, but the protests continue and are not only directed against the criminals. The demonstrants also blame the mentality prevailing in parts of the Indian society for not only this crime but  many others involving violence against women.
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International interest
News media all over the world covered the manifestations following the rape. The Swedish news-program "Rapport" reported directly from New Dehli, and the images in this article come from their videos.

We learned that many women in India have to struggle against society for independence and security and that a lot of Indians, both men and women, want to change this situation. These words from Office Manager Vipul Dindulkar illustrate the frustration that many Indians feel:

"What happened to that girl was highlighted just because it happened in the capital. Every day more than 400 females are reported being raped in India, and I am sure there are more cases that are not reported. The government has no political will to stop it. Right now the government has to make some tough decisions due to the mass protests, but in a democracy people should not have to go out on the streets to force   amendments in the constitutions."
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Black Saturday
After having fought for her life for twelve days the raped girl died in a specialist hospital in Singapore this last Saturday. The day is already called "Black Saturday", and in India it was a day of mourning. People once again went out on the streets, but this time the manifestations were quiet and dignified.
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National Day Against Violence
The Asian Centre for Human Rights wants the 29th December to be a "National Day for Protesting Violence Against Women". This day should be a reminder about the need to fight violence against women. "No other incident has either evoked or shocked the conscience of the nation as this particular incident," said  Director Suhas Chakma in a statement, according to several Indian newspapers.

Feeling of solidarity
I communicate with my Indian colleagues on a daily basis, so I followed the events with a special interest. My first reaction was horror and disgust at the men who were able to commit such a terrible crime and an intense compassion for their victim. Today my feelings are mixed, because I also feel proud of all Indians who refuse to accept what has happened. It has been comforting to see so many people united in a feeling of solidarity and fight for a more humane society.
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Action already taken
At the office in Indore men and women work side by side as friends, and that is how we all want it to continue. The young girl who died last Saturday became a martyr. Her sufferings were not unnoticed but instead gave rise to a movement that I hope will bring something good.

Actually, our developer Anshul Takalkar told me today that in some Indian state's the governments have already changed the legislation and appointed new officers (male and female) to help women. "This situation is a tragedy for us, but it has united India and we are all asking for justice. Now I hope our country will be safer for women."

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