India Journal: What You Can Do to Make Women Safer
By Tripti Lahiri, India Real Time, December 31, 2012

Let’s face it: There isn’t a solution. Or, at any rate, there isn’t any one solution. Certainly not one that can make a difference to how women in India live within the next week, month or year.

That is what many women I’ve spoken with have said. One friend said she was glad that finally, in the wake of a brutal gang rape and beating that cost a young woman her life, the media is connecting the multiple acts of violence women face from before birth (feticide) and after (rape), and seeing it as part of a larger culture of misogyny. But as to how to change that culture, she couldn’t say.

Another friend said that many of the “solutions” regarding policing and speeding up the judicial process have been recommended for years. And women on panel discussions this week have noted that reports on such reforms are gathering dust in government offices. Once the outrage over the Dec. 16 attack dies down, it’s likely nothing will happen because politicians believe people don’t vote on these “soft” issues.

My mother, upset about a piece she had read in the papers blaming how mothers raise sons, asked, “What about the role of fathers?” When a husband beats up or otherwise demeans his wife, and nothing happens other than she gets up earlier the next day to make him a packed lunch, what lesson does that teach young people?

When this young woman’s story fades from the papers, as the anti-corruption struggle did before it; when India Gate is open to the public, but no one goes there to light a candle for this young woman; when it seems like her brutal end is forgotten, it is going to make many people feel helpless and frustrated. It will be hard not to dwell on the fact that this is a country where the punishment for a man who rapes a woman is seven years, but the punishment for a woman who boards a bus at the wrong time is death.

But change is a marathon, not a sprint, a jigsaw puzzle composed of hundreds and thousands of tiny little pieces that seem insignificant individually but over years and decades, hopefully, add up to something.

Here are some things that people can do in their roles as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, working men and women, and educators, culled from conversations over the years, and in recent days.

1. Stop raising little kings: Sometimes, when taking a train journey or skulking on the edges of a large get-together, my attention will be caught by a child. Sometimes the child is insisting, without so much as a “please” or a “thank you”, that an older family member – usually a mother or a grandmother – acquiesce to one demand after another. Sometimes the child adds a push or a tug to the demand, which seems to be regarded as endearing, since the child is so little. Or perhaps the kid is yelling and shouting to the distress of fellow train passengers but the blithe unconcern of his parents.

All children behave less than ideally sometimes. But why is it that almost invariably, in India, the child that is behaving this way in public is a boy?

Boys in India tend to learn early that they matter and that girls, on the whole, don’t.

And what do little Indian girls learn? There’s a whole host of “affectionate” admonitions for little girls who are too outspoken. In West Bengal, for example, too-talkative little girls are dubbed “pakka buris” or literally “overripe old ladies.”

So, for the most part, little girls learn to be quiet and to be oh-so-careful; to try not to be alone in a room with that certain uncle; to walk on the streets curving their bodies away from this or that person who seems intent on a collision even though there’s plenty of space to pass each other; to figure out the best place to wedge herself into on a crammed bus to reduce the chances of a furtive hand – or several — snaking along her breasts or her behind; to text message friends about her whereabouts after dark.

The parents who send boys into the world with an inflated sense of their importance and entitlements – which can easily turn to anger and resentment in a world that doesn’t always offer the adulation promised by that upbringing — make India that much more unsafe for all of us.

2. Don’t let your daughters down. A close friend of mine was molested in her own home by a family friend when she was eight or nine. The next day, when her father was giving her a bath, she burbled innocently about what “uncle” did.

Her aghast father went to the man, confronted him about his act and told him never to set foot in his house again. He confronted the man’s wife too about what her husband had done. And he told his daughter she would never have to see that man again.

Maybe he should have gone to the police. But my friend said what he did was enough. It made her feel safe and protected and that there was someone in the world she could count on to stand with her against the bad things that might happen. Most of all, he made it clear that the shame belonged to that man, not her.

3. Make a fuss as often as you can. For women to feel safe, it has to become harder for men to commit these crimes. Part of that involves, as has been said many times, more effective policing, including quicker registering and prosecuting of rape. But according to the “broken windows” theory, people need to raise more of a fuss about the small daily acts of violation in order to reduce more brutal crimes.

I think of the many times that I have let things go when I should have grabbed someone by their collar and yelled at them. There’s the man in the sari shop (more than one sari shop, actually) who, on the pretext of helping me drape the sari, felt me up. That boy on the metro, who grabbed me while exiting the train, even though, astonishingly, he was accompanied by his father.

I could have bolted after them and called for the police, but didn’t. Part of it is that letting things go, ignoring them, is the default coping mechanism of many women living in India. How many fights will you pick, after all? Another factor is that my initial reaction is always paralyzed disbelief: Did he really do that? Maybe I imagined it? Maybe it was an accident?

By the time my brain forms the thought ‘do something’ the perpetrator is out of reach, the train has moved on. We could all try to do a better job of frightening what sometimes feels like an army of gropers. It may not be possible every time, but at least some of the time?

4. Of plastic bags and gender relations.  I often hear parents of young children recount how effectively the school they send their kids to is brainwashing their young charges. After Earth Day, for instance, children might admonish their parents from littering or using plastic bags or beg them to plant trees and so on.

It’s probably too much, at this stage, to ask schools to incorporate fully-fledged sex education and conversations about rape. It wouldn’t be appropriate for all ages, in any case.

But surely school is a place where, starting quite young, some conversations on appropriate and inappropriate gender relations could take place, particularly to counteract what children may be witnessing at home. They needn’t focus on sex crimes but could talk about cultural norms, how gender relations are manifested in everyday life, and perhaps where to turn to for help when it’s needed.

Ideally, these conversations should take place between boys and girls, with the help of teachers. It’s not a good message to have these kinds of efforts and lessons directed mainly at girls, as in the well-intentioned anti-date-rape program at my Chicago public school, when all the girls were shown a movie about how to protect themselves from their date/potential rapist, while the boys were sent to play basketball.

5. Look within: Dear Indian men, it’s odd how you hold everything under the sun responsible for crimes against women, except the men who commit them. So let me be very clear.

It’s not cable TV: Many friends and family members have recounted stories of being molested by family friends in the days when the state-run broadcaster was the only choice around, offering mainly advice on which pesticides and fertilizers farmers should use.

It’s not drinking: If that was a viable excuse, drunk drivers who kill people should be let off rather than prosecuted.  And there are many men in this world who don’t beat their wives or commit brutal assaults no matter how much they’ve been drinking.

It’s your attitude.

When you were a teenager and your friends made derogatory remarks about girls based on how they were dressed, did you ever say anything? Or did you just snigger? Have you ever spoken explicitly with your adolescent son about appropriate ways of treating women? Or do you just think to yourself, boys will be boys?

The attitudes that led to this crime are not class-specific. I am frequently amazed at the casual sexism and disrespect towards women shown by men who have been to “good” schools and probably consider themselves progressive.

Even though you express sorrow at crimes like this, the remarks you regularly make show that you think only certain kinds of women deserve protecting. You don’t often seem sympathetic to women who cross all sorts of invisible but well-understood lines – being out at the wrong time or having too many friends of the opposite sex.

I still remember a cousin’s friend who took it upon himself to point out that a friend of mine was “oversexed.” (The dictionary definition of that is “exhibiting an excessive sexual interest.”)

Why? Because as a high school senior she happened to have a boyfriend.

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December 31, 2012, The New York Times
Mourning for Rape Victim Recasts New Year’s Eve in India


As my colleague Sruthi Gottipati reports, thousands of protesters marched on Monday in New Delhi, pledging to “take back the night,” as India remained in mourning for the 23-year-old victim of a gang rape who died on Saturday.

Monday night’s march in the capital was the latest in a series of protests across India in recent days.

A video report from Britain’s Channel 4 News on anti-rape protests in India.


The Indian news channel IBN Live reported that New Year’s Eve celebrations were scaled back or canceled in many parts of the country, replaced with protests, candlelight vigils and marches expressing widespread outrage at the failure to hold rapists accountable.

A video report from IBN Live, an Indian affiliate of CNN, on mourning for a rape victim who died on Saturday.

The death of the gang-rape victim came just days after an 18-year-old woman in Punjab State committed suicide by drinking poison after being raped by two men and then humiliated by male police officers. In the wake of the deaths, Indian women, who are long accustomed to “regular harassment and assault during the day and are fearful of leaving their homes alone after dark,” poured into the streets to demand protection from the mainly male police force.

Another Indian broadcaster, NDTV, also focused its coverage on the debate over sexual violence in the country on Monday, with a panel discussion of possible actions the government could take to address the crisis and an overview of the protests in recent days.

A video report from India’s NDTV on anti-rape protests in recent days.

India Ready to Charge Men Accused of Gang Rape

(NEW DELHI) — Indian police say they are ready to file murder, rape and kidnapping charges against six people accused in the gang-rape and killing of a 23-year-old university student.

New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat says the charges against the suspects were expected to be presented to a court in south Delhi on Thursday.

The Dec. 16 rape triggered outrage across India and sparked demands for stronger laws, tougher police action against sexual assault suspects and a sustained campaign to change society’s views on women.

Media reports say 30 witnesses have been gathered, and the charges have been detailed in a document running more than 1,000 pages.

Read more:

India Demands Change as It Mourns Gang-Rape Victim
By Nilanjana Bhowmick / New Delhi, TIME



Indian protesters hold candles and placards during a rally in New Delhi on December 30, 2012, following the cremation of a gangrape victim in the Indian capital.

Indian police charged six men with murder Saturday, hours after a N...Singapore. The hospital’s chief executive, Dr. Kelvin Loh, said that the girl was “courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds, but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome.”

The brutal rape had flamed violent protests across New Delhi, where people — especially youths — turned out in droves to demand justice for the girl, whose identity is being kept under wraps by authorities. The news of her death on Saturday lurched an already exasperated country into angry but peaceful mourning. The government shut down central New Delhi, closing down major subway stations and banning gatherings of more than five people in the city center. However, that did not deter protesters from gathering at the central area of Jantar Mantar to mourn the girl’s death. Some shouted antirape slogans, while others favored a silent protest with black bands over their mouths. What united the protesters was the palpable antigovernment sentiment.

(PHOTOS: In India, a Rape Sparks Violent Protests and Demands for Justice)

After news of her death spread, the government, which had clamped down on protests last week and is often accused of being tin-eared, rushed to calm frayed nerves. “We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a statement. “These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change. It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action.”

The rape has also sparked a national debate in India on violence against women. Before her condition worsened in a New Delhi hospital last week, the girl told her mother that she didn’t want to die. But martyrdom, thrust upon her, has made her an unwitting symbol of India’s fight against sexual violence. Her death is a stark reminder of the hundreds of women who are awaiting justice in India, where one rape is reported every 20 minutes.

Sonia Gandhi, the head of the ruling Congress Party and India’s most powerful politician, also addressed the nation in a rare television appearance: “I appeal you to remain calm and help strengthen our collective resolve to fight the menace of violence against women,” she said. “Today all Indians feel as they have lost their own beloved daughter, their cherished sister, a young woman of 23 whose life full of hope, dream and promise was ahead of her.” The tragedy, Gandhi added, deepened the government’s “determination to battle the pervasive shameful social attitudes and mind-sets that allow men to rape and molest women and girls with such impunity.” Meanwhile, Delhi’s Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who called the incident shameful for her as an administrator and a common citizen, had joined around 500 protesters at Jantar Mantar. However, she was forced to leave as angry protesters swirled around her. “Our hearts are burdened with grief and shame,” Dikshit had said earlier. “Not the moment for words or speeches but for deep reflection.”

(MORE: Brutal New Delhi Gang Rape Outrages Indians, Spurs Calls for Action)

Arun Jaitley, of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said it was time to introspect on how to improve existing laws and judicial processes and, most importantly, the “consciousness of the citizenry which creates a better environment where women can live with dignity.” Indian President Pranab Mukherjee called the victim a “true hero” and a “brave daughter of India” and urged everyone to resolve “this death will not be in vain.” Human-rights defenders too reacted to the Delhi tragedy. Human Rights Watch said the death of the victim was a “sobering reminder of the vast tragedy of sexual violence in India.”

On Saturday, a few hundred students from Jawaharlal Nehru University marched silently to the bus stop where the rape victim and her friend had boarded the bus on Dec. 16. They carried placards reading: “She Is Not With Us but Her Story Must Awaken Us.” The New Delhi tragedy certainly united Indians in their pursuit of justice for the victim. While murder charges and subsequent convictions would no doubt appease popular sentiment in the short run, the girl’s death seems likely to haunt India’s policymakers for years to come. That may be the only takeaway in the tragic death of an unknown girl in the world’s largest democracy. “Her greatest betrayal,” filmmaker Shekhar Kapur wrote on Twitter, “is that we will forget. Political system’s greatest hope is we will forget. Our only redemption is if we do not forget.”


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India rape victim's friend recounts attack in TV interview; recalls apathy of police, public
by Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press, January 5, 2013

NEW DELHI - Passers-by refused to stop to help a naked, bleeding gang-rape victim after she was dumped from a bus onto a New Delhi street, and police delayed taking her to a hospital for 30 minutes, the woman's male companion said in an interview. It was his first public account of the gruesome attack that killed the 23-year-old student and prompted demands for reform of a law enforcement culture seen as lax in crimes against women.

The gang-rape victim's brother blamed a delay in medical treatment of nearly two hours for her death last week in a Singapore hospital.

The woman's male companion, who has not been named, sat in a wheelchair with a broken leg in his interview aired Friday on Indian TV station Zee News. He recounted the 2 1/2 hour rape and beating by a group of men on a bus, which the pair had boarded as they were returning from seeing a movie together.

"I gave a tough fight to three of them. I punched them hard. But then two others hit me with an iron rod," he said. The woman tried to call the police using her mobile phone, but the men took it away from her, he said. They then took her to the rear seats of the bus and one-by-one began raping her, beating and violating her with an iron rod.

Afterward, he overheard some of the attackers saying the woman was dead before dumping both onto the street, he said.

On Saturday, police officer Vivek Gogia denied the companion's assertion that police officers debated jurisdiction for 30 minutes before taking the rape victim and her friend to a hospital.

In a statement, Gogia said police vans reached the spot where the rape victim and her friend were dumped within three minutes of receiving the alert. "Police vans left the spot for hospital with the victims within 12 minutes," he said.

That time was spent in borrowing bed sheets from a neighbouring hotel to cover the naked rape victim and her friend, he said.

Also Saturday, a court asked police to produce five men accused of raping the student for pre-trial proceedings on Monday. Police have charged them with murder, rape and other crimes that could bring them the death penalty.

A sixth suspect, listed as a 17-year-old, was expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.

Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said the summary received from Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore said the rape victim's death was caused by septicemia and multiple-organ failure, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

He also told Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal that the DNA test confirmed that the blood of the victim tallied with the blood stains found on the clothes of all the accused.

Meanwhile, the rape victim's brother said the delay in providing medical treatment led to complications which perhaps caused her death.

"She told me that after the incident she had asked passers-by for help but to no avail, and it was only after the highway patrol alerted the police that she was rushed to hospital, but it had taken almost two hours," the Press Trust of India quoted the brother as saying in his ancestral village, Medawara Kala, in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

"By then a lot of blood was lost," he said.

The 23-year-old woman died last weekend from massive internal injuries suffered during the attack.

On the night of the attack, the woman and her companion had just finished watching the movie "Life of Pi" at an upscale mall and were looking for a ride home. An autorickshaw driver declined to take them, so they boarded the private bus with the six assailants inside, the companion told Zee News.

After the pair were on the bus for a while, the men started harassing and attacking them.

"The attack was so brutal I can't even tell you ... even animals don't behave like that," the man said.

The men dumped their bleeding and naked bodies under an overpass. The woman's companion waved to passersby on bikes, in autorickshaws and in cars for help, but no one stopped. "They slowed down, looked at our naked bodies and left," he said.

"My friend was grievously injured and bleeding profusely," he said. "Cars, autos and bikes slowed down and sped away. I kept waving for help. The ones who stopped stared at us, discussing what could have happened. Nobody did anything."

After about 20 minutes, three police vans arrived, but the officers argued over who had jurisdiction over the crime as the man pleaded for clothes and an ambulance, he said.

Finally, he said, they were taken to a hospital.

The man said he was given no medical care. He then spent four days at the police station helping police investigate the crime. He said he visited his friend in the hospital, told her the attackers were arrested and promised to fight for her.

Authorities have not named the man because of the sensitivity of the case. Zee News also declined to give his name, although it did show his face during the interview.

Indian law prohibits the disclosure of the identity of victims in rape cases, and police have opened an investigation into the TV station for broadcasting the interview, New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said Saturday. Violators of the law can face up to two years in prison and a fine.

The woman's companion said he gave the TV interview because he hopes it will encourage rape victims to come forward and speak about their ordeals without shame.

He said his friend was determined to see that the attackers were punished. "She gave all details of the crime to the magistrate — things we can't even talk about," he said. "She told me that the culprits should be burnt alive."

He added, "People should move ahead in the struggle to prevent a similar crime happening again as a tribute to her."

Most people in India are reluctant to get involved in police business because once they become witnesses, they can be dragged into legal cases that can go on for years. Also, Indian police are often seen less as protectors and more as harassers.

On Friday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde called for changes in the law and the way police investigate cases so justice can be swiftly delivered. Many rape cases are bogged down in India's overburdened and sluggish court system for years.

In the wake of the rape, several petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court to take an active role in the issue of women's safety.

On Friday, the court dismissed a petition asking it to suspend Indian lawmakers accused of crimes against women, saying it doesn't have jurisdiction, according to the Press Trust of India. The Association for Democratic Reforms, an organization that tracks officials' criminal records, said six state lawmakers are facing rape prosecutions and two national parliamentarians are facing charges of crimes against women that fall short of rape.

However, the court did agree to look into the widespread creation of more fast-track courts for accused rapists across the country.



Read more:

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Nepal too protests against sexual violence
Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times
Kathmandu, December 30, 2012

Like India where death of a young girl after brutal assault has sparked widespread protests, neighbouring Nepal too is witnessing demonstrations against sexual violence.

Since Friday, dozens of demonstrators carrying placards and banners are shouting slogans and staging sit-in-protests outside the residence of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in Kathmandu.

The protesters who include activists, lawyers, journalists, sportspersons, students, businessmen and social workers have also held demonstrations outside Singha Darbar, the official seat of government.

On Saturday evening they organised a candlelight vigil in memory of the Delhi girl who succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital earlier in the day.

The protests have forced Bhattarai, who is busy trying to save his chair, promise swift action against perpetrators of violence against women during a meeting with activists at his residence.

"As violence against women continues one after another, time has come to say enough is enough. State has continuously failed to protect victims and assure that they get justice," said Dewan Rai, a protester.

The immediate trigger for the protests was the way in which a Nepali migrant worker was robbed of her hard-earned money by officials at the Tribhuwan International Airport and later raped by a policeman.

On Thursday, the government decided to compensate the victim with an amount of NRs 1,50, 000 ( Rs. 93,750). This infuriated activists who blamed the government of equating sexual violence with money.

The protests have since snowballed to include all types of gender-based violence against women including a recent death of a domestic worker and disappearance of a housewife some months back.

In a list of demands submitted to the Prime Minister, the protesters have sought amendment of laws dealing with rapes, police reforms and implementation of court verdicts against offenders.  

"We will continue our protests and keep pressurising the government till it delivers on its promises of curbing violence against women," said lawyer Mandira Sharma.

Violence against women is very prevalent in Nepal and a report released by the government in November based on survey of 900 women in six districts showed that nearly half of them have experienced violence.

For Somali Women, Pain of Being a Spoil of War
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, December 27, 2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The girl’s voice dropped to a hush as she remembered the bright, sunny afternoon when she stepped out of her hut and saw her best friend buried in the sand, up to her neck.

Her friend had made the mistake of refusing to marry a Shabab commander. Now she was about to get her head bashed in, rock by rock.

“You’re next,” the Shabab warned the girl, a frail 17-year-old who was living with her brother in a squalid refugee camp.

Several months later, the men came back. Five militants burst into her hut, pinned her down and gang-raped her, she said. They claimed to be on a jihad, or holy war, and any resistance was considered a crime against Islam, punishable by death.

“I’ve had some very bad dreams about these men,” she said, having recently escaped the area they control. “I don’t know what religion they are.”

Somalia has been steadily worn down by decades of conflict and chaos, its cities in ruins and its people starving. Just this year, tens of thousands have died from famine, with countless others cut down in relentless combat. Now Somalis face yet another widespread terror: an alarming increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls.

The Shabab militant group, which presents itself as a morally righteous rebel force and the defender of pure Islam, is seizing women and girls as spoils of war, gang-raping and abusing them as part of its reign of terror in southern Somalia, according to victims, aid workers and United Nations officials. Short of cash and losing ground, the militants are also forcing families to hand over girls for arranged marriages that often last no more than a few weeks and are essentially sexual slavery, a cheap way to bolster their ranks’ flagging morale.

But it is not just the Shabab. In the past few months, aid workers and victims say, there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying upon women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine, who often trek hundreds of miles searching for food and end up in crowded, lawless refugee camps where Islamist militants, rogue militiamen and even government soldiers rape, rob and kill with impunity.

With the famine putting hundreds of thousands of women on the move — severing them from their traditional protection mechanism, the clan — aid workers say more Somali women are being raped right now than at any time in recent memory. In some areas, they say, women are being used as chits at roadblocks, surrendered to the gunmen staffing the barrier in the road so that a group of desperate refugees can pass.

“The situation is intensifying,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the United Nations’ special representative for children and armed conflict. All the recent flight has created a surge in opportunistic rapes, she said, and “for the Shabab, forced marriage is another aspect they are using to control the population.”

In the past two months, from Mogadishu alone, the United Nations says it has received more than 2,500 reports of gender-based violence, an unusually large number here. But because Somalia is a no-go zone for most operations, United Nations officials say they are unable to confirm the reports, leaving the work to fledgling Somali aid organizations under constant threat.

Somalia is a deeply traditional place, where 98 percent of girls are subject to genital cutting, according to United Nations figures. Most girls are illiterate and relegated to their homes. When they venture out, it is usually to work, trudging through the rubble-strewn alleyways wrapped head to toe in thick black cloth, often lugging something on their back, the equatorial sun burning down on them.

The famine and mass displacement, which began over the summer, have made women and girls more vulnerable. Many Somali communities have been disbanded, and with armed groups forcing men and boys into their militias, it is often single women, with children in tow, who set off on the dangerous odyssey to refugee camps.

At the same time, aid workers and United Nations officials say the Shabab, who are fighting Somalia’s transitional government and imposing a harsh version of Islam in the areas they control, can no longer pay their several thousand fighters the way they used to. Much as they seize crops and livestock, giving their militants what they call “temporary wives” is how the Shabab keep many young men fighting for them.

But these are hardly marriages, said Sheik Mohamed Farah Ali, a former Shabab commander who defected to the government army.

“There’s no cleric, no ceremony, nothing,” he said, adding that Shabab fighters had even paired up with thin little girls as young as 12, who are left torn and incontinent afterward. If a girl refuses, he said, “she’s killed by stones or bullets.”

One young woman just delivered a baby, half Somali, half Arab. She said she was selected by a Somali Shabab fighter she knew, brought to a house full of guns and handed off to a portly Arab commander, one of the many foreigners fighting for the Shabab.

“He did whatever he wanted with me,” she said. “Night and day.”

She said she escaped when he was sleeping.

The Elman Peace and Human Rights Center is one of the few Somali organizations helping rape victims, run by Fartuun Adan, a tall, outspoken woman whose husband, Elman, was gunned down by warlords years ago. Ms. Adan says that since the famine began, she has met hundreds of women who have been raped and hundreds more who have escaped forced marriages.

“You have no idea how difficult it is for them to come forward,” she said. “There’s no justice here, no protection. People say, ‘You’re junk’ if you’ve been raped.”

Often, the women are left wounded or pregnant, forced to seek help. Ms. Adan wants to expand her medical services and counseling for rape victims and possibly open a safe house, but it is hard to do on a budget of $5,000 a month, provided by a small aid organization called Sister Somalia. Ms. Adan wept on a recent day as she listened to the 17-year-old girl recount the story of seeing her friend stoned to death and then being gang-raped herself.

“These girls ask me, ‘How am I going to get married, what’s going to be my future, what’s going to happen to me?’ ” she said. “We can’t answer that.”

Some of the women in Ms. Adan’s office seem to have come from another time. They have made it here, with help from Elman’s network, from the deepest recesses of rural Somalia, where women are still treated like chattel.

One 18-year-old who asked to go by Ms. Nur, her common last name, was married off at 10. She was a nomad and says that to this day she has never used a phone or seen a television.

She spoke of being raped by two Shabab fighters at a displaced-persons camp in October. She said the men did not bother saying much when they entered her hut. They just pointed their guns at her chest and uttered two words: stay silent.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 28, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: For Somali Women, Pain of Being a Spoil of War.;

End culture of rape in 2013
by Lauren Wolfe, Special to CNN
January 3, 2013

(An Indian activist gets his head shaven in protest against the Dehli gang-rape in New Delhi on Friday, January 4. A gang of men accused of repeatedly raping a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi are to appear in court for the first time. Police formally charged five suspects with rape, kidnapping and murder after the woman died. An Indian activist gets his head shaven in protest against the Dehli gang-rape in New Delhi on Friday, January 4. A gang of men accused of repeatedly raping a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi are to appear in court for the first time. Police formally charged five suspects with rape, kidnapping and murder after the woman died.)

India rape protests

Editor's note: Lauren Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and the director of Women Under Siege, a Women's Media Center initiative on sexualized violence in conflict. She is the former senior editor of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and blogs at Follow her on Twitter, @Wolfe321.

(CNN) -- On December 16, a young medical student in one of India's major cities was gang-raped, her body destroyed by the bodies of the men who allegedly assaulted her and also by the rusting metal bar doctors say they used to penetrate her. The bar removed part of her intestines. The rest were removed in a hospital far from home where she struggled for her life for just a few days.

It has taken an attack that lies nearly outside of comprehension to prompt demonstrations, but the outcry has begun.

Over the weekend, women rose up in Nepal, protesting outside the prime minister's house against gender-based violence.

Egyptian women have faced ceaseless sexualized violence since the start of that country's revolution, but are now protesting to stop the ever-present sexual harassment and assault.

According to Eve Ensler, the head of V-Day and One Billion Rising, a movement calling for women to rise up on February 14, 2013, and demand an end to violence, women in Somalia are planning what may be their first-ever major demonstrations against rape and violence. Ensler will be in Mumbai Jan. 4 and Delhi Jan. 7 and will meet with activists and leaders for events aimed at raising awareness of the movement.

This groundswell -- what Ensler calls "a catalytic moment" -- is the perfect chance for us to consider how we think about subjugation, rape, and degradation of women globally.

Gloria Steinem and I have written about how a cult of masculinity is behind the constant violation of women around the world -- that some men brutalize women against their own self-interest because of an addiction to control or domination. To put it plainly: Rape is not about sex.

"Rape is about violence," Steinem says, "proving 'masculine' superiority; often inserting guns and other objects into women's bodies; playing out hostility to other men by invading the bodies of 'their' females, including old women and babies; occupying wombs with sperm of a conquering group; owning female bodies as the means of reproduction; and raping men and boys to make them as inferior as females."

This is born out everywhere that rape occurs but especially in war zones like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Dr. Denis Mukwege, the medical director of Panzi Hospital, told me men use objects as a means to mark a woman -- to indicate that she now carries the message of violence impressed on her body. She becomes an emblem of terror meant to warn the world that nobody is safe. And while rape in war zones carries its own particular kind of horror, there is no escaping the cult of masculinity geographically. The culture of rape imbues whatever space we inhabit.

For women, "peacetime" does not exist.

Nearly 1 in 5 women in this country surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

That women are expected to put up and shut up is universally understood: A 2012 UNICEF report found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified. A recent study by two nonprofits found that 65 percent of men surveyed in the Democratic Republic of Congo believe "women should accept partner violence to keep the family together."

And, as in India, where the appalling remarks of Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana appeared to place blame on the Delhi gang-rape victim -- she chose a strange private bus, she shouldn't have been out after dark -- politicians, clergymen, husbands, and others around the world perpetually blame rape survivors. (See this beauty from an Italian priest. Or reacquaint yourself with the stunners from Rep. Todd Akin or Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.)

These are more than just manipulative words; victim-blaming has consequences. Women are literally dying from fault-finding from Syria to Sudan in honor killings, suicides, and murders because they are blamed for their sexual assaults.

We have to move the focus off the victim. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the "safety and security of women is of the highest concern to our government."

OK. That's one part of the equation. But what about the larger part -- what about prosecuting men who are committing these crimes? Yes, women often do not report sexualized violence. But they do not report because they know that, at least in this country, only three of every 100 men accused of rape will ever spend a day in jail.

It's time to focus on the perpetrators. And it's also time for men and women to engage in a consistent dialogue on stopping rape.

Let's publicly and privately declare all sexualized violence unacceptable.

Let's hold perpetrators legally accountable and once and for all change laws and justice systems that continue to fail women.

Let's understand that rape is not a problem that affects only women: It affects families, communities, entire cultures. It is not an inevitability, but the outcome of a system based in discrimination, just as slavery was.

Let's declare 2013 The Year to End Rape. If this is a problem that men have created, this is a problem that men can help solve.

The time is now.

India rape: Name my daughter, says victim's father

6 January 2013 BBC News India

Children paint messages of support for the victim in Delhi, 5 JanuaryChildren paint messages of support for the victim in Delhi

The father of an Indian woman who was gang-raped in Delhi and later died says her name should be made public so she can serve as an inspiration to other victims of sexual crimes.

The father told Britain's Sunday People newspaper: "We want the world to know her real name."

Indian law protects sex crime victims by prohibiting identification.

One minister, Shashi Tharoor, has urged authorities to reveal the name so it can be used for a new anti-rape law.

The woman, 23, died last weekend in a hospital in Singapore from injuries suffered during last month's attack.

'Find strength'

The father told the Sunday People: "My daughter didn't do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself.

"I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter."

The laws on identification were introduced to protect victims from the social stigma associated with rape.

Although the system has not always been watertight, the high-profile case has brought a tough stance from the authorities.

Protesters at a court in Saket, Delhi, 5 JanuaryProtesters gathered at a court on Saturday where a hearing for five of the accused was held

Police filed a case against broadcaster Zee News after it carried an interview with the friend who was with the victim during the attack.

The victim's friend was not named but his face was shown and police are investigating whether Zee News broke broadcasting laws relating to disclosure of the victim's identity.

However, it remains unclear what could be done if the father chose to publicly name his daughter.

Last week, Mr Tharoor, the junior education minister, called on the authorities to reveal the name of the gang-rape victim so that the new anti-rape law could be named after her.

He wrote: "Unless her parents object, she should be honoured and the revised anti-rape law named after her. She was a human being with a name, not just a symbol."

The Sunday People said the father had given it permission to name him and his daughter.

It carried a photograph of the father but said the family had requested no photograph of the victim be used.

In the interview, the father also renewed his calls for the men who carried out the attack to be hanged.

"Death for all six of them. These men are beasts. They should be made an example of and that society will not allow such things to happen," he said.

Five men have been charged with abduction, rape and murder. A sixth suspect is expected to be tried as a juvenile.

A pre-court hearing for the five was held in the Saket area of the Indian capital on Saturday and the men have been summoned to appear in court on Monday.

Frequent protests

In his interview with Zee News, the friend said he and the rape victim had boarded a bus after a trip to the cinema and after failing to flag down an auto-rickshaw.

The victim's friend, who witnessed the attack, speaks to Zee News

He said the bus had tinted windows, and that he believed the group of men had laid a trap for them.

He confirmed that the assailants had later thrown them off the bus and tried to run them over.

The case has caused a national outcry, and there have been frequent protests calling for greater protection for women.

The BBC's Andrew North, in Delhi, says it continues to put Indian life under a sharp magnifying glass and for many people it is uncomfortable viewing.

Rape is a crime everywhere, but India's crisis is unique

Indians have begun to recognize this epidemic of sexual hatred in their midst. Far from just a matter of rape, it’s an environment where, in some regions, there are 800 girls alive for every 1,000 boys, because sex-selective abortion and female infanticide are so widespread; where the physical abuse of women is seen as mundane; where even major sex crimes are usually described in major newspapers as “Eve-teasing.” India finally awoke this week to its national shame.

But then an odd thing happened in Canada and other Western countries: A number of prominent people, notably anti-rape activists and feminists, rushed to declare that India’s crisis wasn’t notably severe.

“Rape and sexual violence against women are endemic everywhere,” arguedwriter Owen Jones, denouncing those who describe India’s situation as a national crisis, since it’s just part of a global “pandemic of violence against women.” Discussions of India, Irish feminist Emer O’Toole wrote, are misplaced as they only serve to “minimize the enormity of Western rape culture.”

One Canadian activist told me, via Twitter, that Indians were wrong to describe their situation as an epidemic. “Labelling rape culture uniquely ‘Indian,’ when it is ubiquitous, is unfair and ignores the real problem,” she said, arguing that Indians were overdoing it. “Does India need to navel-gaze about how its culture treats women? Yes, but so do all countries, really.”

Yet, it’s not all the same. Not even close. To use the situation in New Delhi as a way to draw attention to sex crimes in Canada is akin to using the Rwandan genocide to make points about gang crime in Scarborough. Rape is a terrible crime everywhere, and it probably remains underprosecuted and all too commonplace and hidden in many places in the West, so there’s plenty of room for activism. But, in part because that activism has succeeded, rape is a grotesque anomaly, universally recognized as a serious crime. That’s not true at all in many parts of India.

In New Delhi last year, there were 635 rape cases brought to court, and only one resulted in a conviction. That’s a conviction rate of 0.16 per cent; in comparison, English-speaking countries typically have rape conviction rates of between 40 and 70 per cent. Of course, the situation is actually far worse than that, because very few rapes in India are ever reported.

new report by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada suggests that India’s reported rapes are “the tip of the iceberg,” that the real numbers are extremely high and that they’ve likely been sharply on the rise for the past decade. We shouldn’t pretend that this is an effect of poverty or a specific religion. In many poorer countries, rape is rare and taboo. In India, it’s both Hindus and Muslims, the middle class and the poor, who participate; in fact, it’s the less poor regions of India, in the north, where the murder of girls and the rape of women are most frequent. This hatred of women is a specific cultural development.

By contrast, rape has become dramatically less commonplace in the West. In one of the most comprehensive long-term studies of rape, the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey (conducted for the Department of Justice) shows that the number of women who say they’ve experienced rape today is one-fifth the level of 1973.

What that also shows is that change is possible, that India’s epidemic isn’t inevitable or natural. Activism can work – but talk of a “universal rape culture” only helps perpetuate the problem.

Why journalists are covering rapes differently in New Delhi & Steubenville
by Mallary Jean Tenore, Jan. 14, 2013

It’s not often that two stories about rape — one in India and one here in the U.S. — get so much attention at the same time. What’s striking about the simultaneous stories is how differently journalists are covering them.

The case in New Delhi involves a young woman who was raped so brutally that she died. The five men suspected of the rape now face charges of kidnapping, rape and murder. Just over the weekend, six men were arrested in India for another rape.

The rape in Steubenville, Ohio, involves two high school football players who allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl for several hours. There are reports that she was raped anally and urinated on as other young men watched.

Differences in the coverage seem to revolve around journalists’ handling of three main topics — the victims, the suspects and the larger cultural and societal aspects of rape.

Portrayal of the victims

The media have given the young woman in the New Delhi case widespread attention. Her father has said his daughter, whose name he wants the world to know, “didn’t do anything wrong.” One of The Wall Street Journal’s most shared stories last week was titled: “New Delhi Attack: The Victim’s Story.” It details what her hopes and aspirations were, what she had accomplished at a young age, and how hard she worked to pay for her education.

By contrast, the coverage of the Steubenville woman has focused more on what happened to her as a victim and less on who she is as a person. This is somewhat understandable, given that her identity is being protected. But it’s nonetheless striking how little we know about her. We know, as The New York Times reported, that “she attended a smaller, religion-based school, where she was an honor student and an athlete.” And we know that she was allegedly drunk the night she was raped, though it’s unclear whether that information is relevant or an unintended way to blame the victim.

This confusion has been an ongoing problem in rape coverage. The language we use can assign blame, and so can our descriptions of victim’s appearances. For instance, reporting that a rape victim was known to “dress provocatively” or “inappropriately for her age” could imply to some that she was culpable.

Part of the reason U.S. coverage may be more sympathetic toward the New Delhi girl is because of the distance, says The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger.

“The closer to home a sex crime occurred, especially when the accused is someone well-known, or is literally cheered on in the case of local athletes, then the harder it is for a news outlet to cover it in a way that’s not reflexively protective of the accused,” she said via email. “For that reason, a woman brutally attacked in New Delhi is far easier to write about sympathetically than a woman in our community because there’s no defensiveness; that’s someone else’s terrible problem.”

Portrayal of the suspects

The coverage I’ve seen of the men allegedly involved in the New Delhi rape has been largely critical. This Wall Street Journal story, for instance, says two of the suspects have been described as “rowdy, heavy drinkers” who “used to drink while driving, before driving, and on the way home — everywhere.”

Coverage of the suspects in the Steubenville case has been different. Last week, the “Today Show” interviewed the ex-guardians and the attorney of suspect Ma’lik Richmond. In the interview with Matt Lauer, Richmond’s ex-guardians said they’re supportive of him and portrayed him in a positive light. As they talked, childhood photos of Richmond flashed across the screen.

I watched the coverage and wondered: Who’s there to advocate for, and support, the young woman? Who’s there to give her a voice? Google searches have turned up one interview with the victim’s mother, who told The New York Times: “It’s unreal, almost like we’re part of a TV show. It’s like a bad ‘CSI’ episode. What those boys did was disgusting, disgusting…”

It doesn’t help that the suspects are on Steubenville’s local high school team, which has been heralded as “a bright spot” for the town’s residents. BuzzFeed’s Katie Heaney wrote last week about what she calls “the glorified athlete suspect.” An accuser’s athletic achievements can serve as “a legitimate alibi absolving them of wrongdoing,” Heaney writes.

Whether or not suspected athletes have committed the crimes of which they are accused, the things they’ve accomplished in sports have nothing to do with it. If athletes suspected of rape are eventually found innocent, it won’t (or, at least, shouldn’t) be because they’ve done such a good job for their teams. Can a young man not be an excellent quarterback and a rapist all at once? Unless we believe that athletic prowess in and of itself contributes to goodness of character, unless we believe that our heroes can do no wrong simply because they are our heroes, these records and these achievements have no place in media coverage of violent crime.

We saw this glorification of athletes in the coverage of Notre Dame student Lizzy Seeberg, who committed suicide after accusing a football player of sexual assault in 2010. Henneberger wrote an extensive story about the incident, and recently wrote about her own experience with rape.

“It’s no accident that … when the Chicago Tribune broke that story, the reaction of the Notre Dame community was (and is) to ’shoot the messenger’ by claiming that oh, those haters in Chicago have always been out to get us,” Henneberger said.

Lauren Wolfe, director of the Women’s Media Center’s Women Under Siege project, said  journalists covering the Steubenville case need to do deeper reporting.

“Our mainstream media is ignoring the bigger picture — we’ve got talk show hosts sitting down with football parents and talking about the ‘boys’ and ‘football culture’ not daring to delve into what is behind this horrible, all-too-common crime.”

Portrayal of the cultural & social aspects of the rapes

Coverage of the public’s reaction to both rapes has also been noticeably different. The coverage of the New Delhi rape has raised important questions about gender inequality in India, where “25,000 to 100,000 women a year are killed over dowry disputes.”

The New York Times reported on the country’s antiquated definition of rape: “Compared to the much of the rest of the world, sections of India’s laws covering rape are inadequate and narrowly defined, critics say. And India’s way of delivering justice to rape victims is replete with loopholes, they say.”

Indian women participate in a march to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. (Mahesh Kumar A./AP)

Sameera Khan, journalist and co-author of “Why Loiter? Women & Risk on Mumbai Street,” said rape coverage in India has increased in recent years. But until the New Delhi rape, she viewed the coverage as uneven.

It is “often class-biased (that is if the rape survivor is middle-class it gets more media play than if she is working class or tribal, rural, etc.); intrusive and violative of the privacy of the survivor (sometimes even disclosing identifying details of the survivor which is banned by Indian law); and often takes on a moral stance (‘what was she doing there so late?’ or ‘what was she wearing?’),” Khan said by email. “Sometimes this is done more subtly and sometimes quite crudely.” Usually, she said, police make moral judgements and the media simply echo what they say without questioning them.

Khan described the coverage of the Delhi gang rape, however, as being “unusually decent.”

“I think this has been a result of the overwhelming sad, upset, angry response of ordinary people who came onto the streets in many parts of India and especially Delhi, where for days people literally occupied public space and said ‘enough is enough, we want justice for her and all rape victims’ … the media caught on to the people’s sentiment very fast and echoed it and have been fairly sensitive to the survivor,” Khan said.

“This is the first time we have seen such a sustained campaign both by ordinary people and the media against rape and for safety of women in public space.”

Wolfe, of the Women’s Media Center, said she’s been struck by how “remarkable” the Indian media’s coverage of the rape has been.

“It reports every pinky finger lifted on this case and gives a lot of space to what needs to be done to move the country’s terrible record of violence against women forward,” Wolfe said via email. “From what I can tell, this is unprecedented, as are the mass protests against violence against women.”

She thinks the U.S. media’s coverage of the Steubenville rape, meanwhile, is too focused on the town being “divided.”

“Why are we again seeing such heinous acts defended or dismissed, as we saw with Penn State? On one hand, I’m not faulting the media for giving that airtime because it actually does the service of revealing the terrible reality in this country that we don’t take the violation of women seriously,” Wolfe said.

“But on the other, it’s also true that there is such an entrenched culture of rape in the world — including in the U.S. — that the media has on blinders on how to discuss sexualized violence. How many more times can they refer to rape as ‘sex’? They need to treat rape like they would any other crime, yet they don’t.”

Part of the problem: rape is often an invisible crime, says Nick Kristof in a recent New York Times column.

Americans watched the events after the Delhi gang rape with a whiff of condescension at the barbarity there, but domestic violence and sex trafficking remain a vast problem across the United States.

One obstacle is that violence against women tends to be invisible and thus not a priority.

Rape isn’t as black and white as some other crimes, so it’s harder to cover. There are a lot of unresolved questions that journalists can’t always answer, such as: What effect is rape having on the victim and what effect will it have on her life? How will it affect her future relationships? How will it affect her view of herself?

Journalists often focus on the accused. Will they be charged for the crime? If so, what will the charges be? Will they be found guilty or not guilty? Will they go to jail?

Wolfe said that “unlike in India, [U.S.] media is not talking about the ‘why.’ Why are there systems in place that allow rape to be committed over and over again in this country? Why are boys raised to think that rape with an unconscious woman can possibly be considered sex?”

Journalists covering the Steubenville and New Delhi rapes have an opportunity to raise these questions and seek answers. By doing so, they can help shed light on the seriousness of rape — and ultimately tell more complete stories about it.

Delhi Gang Rape Uprising

The #DelhiGangRape Uprising: #PhotoShow: NEVER FORGET!

Was the mass uprising we saw in Delhi in response to the brutal rape and murder of a young student a one time event, that will not lead to anything? This is what skeptics have been saying! The 50 Million Missing Campaign, say this with confidence: NO, THIS IS NOT THE END.  THIS IS THE START! IT IS THE START OF A REVOLUTION!  [This uprising was not about this one case. Click here to see the campaign newspaper log on the kind of violence there is on women and girls in India]

Why are we so confident? It is because we've been lobbying for and monitoring the public awareness of and responses to violence on women in India for 6 years.  In 2012 when we surveyed the public, and compared it to our earlier survey, we found almost 50% of people are saying they are ANGRY! This is vastly different from our earlier survey in 2008-9, when many were not aware of the scale of violence, and many people did not even think this was a human rights issue! 

The 50 Million Missing Campaign proudly presents to you a series of photographs from the Delhi gang rape protests that our supporting member photographers on flickr have contributed.  It is
accompanied by the poem "Where the Mind is Without Fear,"  a poem by one of India's greatest poets, Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote it more than a 100 years ago. Please see these photos: and never forget!! TO SEE THE PHOTO-SHOW AND POEM CLICK HERE.

Do also join The 50 Million Missing Campaign's fight to end systemic violence against women in India on our other sites where we provide continuous information on ongoing news and events.  It is from the sites below that the campaign drives the public and media attention towards specific cases by making them trend on social networking sites.  So please join and help the campaign in its goals. Thank you all for your continued support! Together, we are the change that we desire to see!






Act for women's safety - Delhi

THE 50 MILLION MISSING: A Campaign Against India's Female Genocide

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THE 50 MILLION MISSING: A Campaign Against India's Female Genocide

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A 5 year old is gang raped in Delhi and the police refuses to act on the case. Then they try to squash the rape report and beat up women protestors. The police chief, Neeraj Kumar, says he's satisfied with the way his force is and that he takes no "moral responsibility" and will not give up his seat of power!!  Can the police force ever reform with a chief like this? Will the women of India ever feel safe knowing this is the man heading the police force? Please join us in our demand the Prime Minister must fire the Delhi Police Chief immediately!

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