The outrage culture about rape masks a landscape of pervasive child abuse

Protest in Karachi over the ‘motorway gang rape’ incident. 12 September 2020. Reuters photo.

I haven’t updated this site for a while, caught up with teaching two journalism courses at Emerson College this semester – prepping for the courses, training for the unprecedented online situation, then assignment-setting, student feedback, grading – it’s been hard to do much else. But when Mehr Mustafa at The News on Sunday asked me to contribute to their special report on rape culture, I couldn’t refuse. Was up till 3 am to meet the deadline for the piece – The outrage culture masks a landscape of pervasive abuse (TNS Special Report, 27 September 2020).

They asked me to define ‘rape culture’ as a lens to view the issue as a social/political construct rather than individual/isolated events, and to address the systematic nature of sexual violence. That rang some bells. Among the things it got me thinking about was systemic oppression – visible in the racial injustice in the USA highlighted over recent months. I revisited the piece I did last year, Moving towards a cycle of healing, focusing on the need for preventive rather than reactive measures and the concept of restorative rather than retributive justice (thanks Anita Wadhwa and Dina Kraft for expanding on my understanding of this). And just found my 2012 post: We must move beyond outrage against selected rape cases.

As I was working on the piece, the rape of a Dalit teenager in India (#Hathras) and then another, began making headlines. Here’s the powerful piece Dr Syeda Hameed wrote about that: ‘She Was A Dalit Child from Boolgarhi Village, She Was Mine and Yours’. Yes, India seems particularly horrific right now but it’s a regional issue: Pakistan/India: There is no honour in killing… End the culture of impunity.

My article for the TNS special report on rape culture below.

Continue reading

‘Not just India’s daughter’ – article for TNS Special Report

Jyoti Singh’s death has become a global symbol and the beginning of change. Here’s hoping she did not die in vain… ‘Not just India’s daughter‘: My article for The News on Sunday Special Report on the issue

Delhi gang rape protest

Protest at India Gate against gang rape in Delhi. TOI photo

India has been under the spotlight for the rape and gender violence since the horrific gang rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012. That night, a 23-year-old physiotherapist on her way home from the movies with a male friend was brutally gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in the national capital. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012. Her friend who tried to save her was also brutally beaten but survived.

The BBC documentary, ‘India’s Daughter’ following up on a rape that shook not just India but the world, and the Indian government’s subsequent ban on the film has re-ignited hot debate on an issue that is relevant to far more than just India or India’s daughters. Continue reading

We must move beyond outrage against selected rape cases

Protest at India Gate against gang rape in Delhi. TOI photo

Protest at India Gate against gang rape in Delhi. TOI photo

Grieved to hear that the student who was gangraped in a Delhi bus has passed away in the Singapore hospital where she was flown for treatment. And about the teenage gangrape victim in Patiala who committed suicide – one of countless, not just in India but elsewhere in Southasia. And the 42 year old woman. And the two girls – minors – in Umerkot, Sindh who were raped. And that a woman is raped every 22 minutes in India – I don’t know what the rate is in other South Asian countries, but doubt it’s much better elsewhere. But will the outrage at the “Delhi Gang Rape case” and the victim’s death change things for women in our part of the world – not just in urban but in rural areas, not just for women? And for those, including minor girls and boys, who are routinely subjected to sexual abuse, not only by strangers and security forces, but most often by family friends and relatives? And for the countless who are subjected to ‘revenge rapes’ or forced to marry their rapists or exchange girls and women for peace? We need to move beyond outrage at selected cases and work towards changing attitudes, not just of of society but of law enforcing agencies and courts that shame victims more than perpetrators.

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