Violence against women and collective guilt in India.


On November 27, a 27-year-old veterinary doctor was raped, murdered and dumped by the side of a highway in the Indian state of Hyderabad. A week later I woke to the news that police had shot and killed the four men wanted for her rape and murder. Phones across India lit up with hashtags like #JusticeDelivered. Politicians and celebrities lauded the police for taking justice into their own hands and mainstream media channels ran reels of victory celebrations and hero-worshipping. I was forwarded a Whatsapp message that read: "Simply shooting them is not justice.

They should have been made first impotent then blind, tongue-less and so on". This after a week of members of the upper house of Parliament openly discussing castration, lynching and the death penalty as somehow reasonable, valid ways to address rape in India. Meanwhile, feminist activists tirelessly kept sharing statements and organising protests for the right to a life free of violence for all women in this country and for due process in dealing with perpetrators. I can not help but reflect on how the voices of those of us who work to end violence against women never get forwarded around in the family Whatsapp groups of our fellow citizens. We are inconvenient voices because we talk about our collective culpability in creating an enabling environment for sexual violence - a rape culture that goes as deep within India as our culture for selective outrage. To watch this unfold as a woman in India today is as familiar as it is exhausting. Despite the supposed progressive changes in legislation in 2013,

which criminalised stalking and acid attacks, and expanded the definition of rape, justice and accountability for survivors have not been delivered, especially for the most marginalised. The new law has not led to faster or better justice. If anything, it has only helped to increase the backlash against women who do report. Just a few days ago, a survivor was set on fire by a group of men including one accused of gang-raping her. She died the next day. Due process has failed, and will continue to fail, countless women in India. Beyond the justice system, bizarre "solutions" to violence against women drive a male-dominated industry of uninformed do-gooders. Inventions of everything from safety apps to rape whistles all put the onus on women to "avoid" violence and take the focus from the perpetrators themselves. The problem is in the simplistic understanding of what causes sexual...

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