lately, headlines in and out of india have been reading:
“Photojournalist gang-raped: Shock and rage in Mumbai”
“Promiscuous culture or safe city? Pick one: Mumbai top cop’s faux pas”
“Mob attacked me, nobody helped: a Mumbai photo-journalist recalls”
“Novelist Chetan Bhagat attacked for tweet on rape and rupee”
“Mumbai gang-rape suspects may have raped others, say cops”
“Mumbai gang-rape: Rape not the end of life; want to work again, says survivor”
“As Mumbai gang-rape shocks the nation, justice still awaited in Delhi rape case.”
they are terming the mumbai rape “parallels” [to the delhi rape last december 2012 where the girl was gang raped then died]. they’re calling it worrying parallels: the photojournalist is 22 years old and was attacked while she was with a male colleague on a shoot in the heart of Mumbai at 6 pm; he was tied up with a belt while five men took turns raping her, the police said.
satyapal singh, the police commissioner of India’s most cosmopolitan city, mumbai, was caught on air saying that dancing in pubs and dance bars or a mere kiss in public is promoting a “promiscuous culture.”
but what he is calling ‘promiscuous’ is freedom or rights for women in other societies where, if this happens, it can be reported right away without fear [not necessarily stigma] and where it is punishable by effective laws.
[see the jodie foster starred film of 1988 accused for more].
recently, while in paris, headlines of the economist jumped at me:
How India got its funk.
the cover caught my eye over and over, kiosk after kiosk, arrondissement after arrondisesment, perhaps because i’m indophile. or perhaps because religion trapped me into thinking my place was set by the sacred books and pundits as female. or perhaps because i grew up gendered differenty. or perhaps simply because anyhting ‘india’ gets my eyes every time, because i hope it will give me some new news on change for women.
but i sighed and moved on when i discovered it was about finance again [and obviously! it’s a magazine on economy! but economy of women is equally important and i’ve seen some non cultural magazines feature women!]
one paragraph of the online version of the ecomomist i googled “how to lose friends and alienate people” states that india’s troubles are caused partly by global forces beyond its control. but they are also the consequence of a deadly complacency that has led the country to miss a great opportunity.”
it is this same ‘complacency’ that has caused women to remain retrograde, while the country tries to reform its stagnation of kinds [read financial] other than for women.
google searches offered panels on the subject of rape and this exposure is good. but generic discussions only on parallels and on the history of india means zip if all systems remain so damned impotent. talk is cheap! this complacency originating from manipulating religion to make and keep women subservient and unequal to men, or male entitlement or greed or ignorance or fear of change on both women and men’s part is THE cause celebre for this platitude.
i tweeted a while ago, after seeing an MLK article on upworthy “what if france had an MLK?’ vis-a-vis their near invisible arab population, but now i wish to position that question for india. what if india had even a dead female MLK who made affirmative action affirmative for society and women”? or what if it had an alive MLK who fought for women’s right to walk the streets male or female? let’s face it! male would be better since it’s a male dominated society!
and while it is a given that the judicial system is important as well as the political system in any country, the institutional and social system have got to matter urgently- india has to raise girls to be equal and think equal to boys. the gender equality has become such a given in some places. we’re not even asking india to accept same sex marriage that the other worlds have just done [minus russia], but we’re simply asking them to recognize that violence against women is unacceptable! then perhaps the question of women’s rights can begin to take shape.
the complacency and medieval attitude in a changing global world are keeping back india from being stuck in the ‘developing world’ category. until they don’t develop some system to empower women, they’ll stay stuck in their BRICheadedness! and what a shame that will be with its wealth of so much culture, philosophy and history that it imports to western worlds or that the western worlds wisely take from to infuse and evolve their own cultures!