Monday 7 January 2013

2012 - another year of violence against women

Taking stock of the year that has just gone, 2012 was not a good year for the people in various parts of the world. One of the things that will remain with me is the savagery that some women across the world have had to suffer with misogyny reaching unprecedented heights.

A known rapist who was released by the Greek justice system because of insufficient evidence, stalked a young woman who was returning home, hit her while she was fitting the key in the lock of her block of flats, dragged her to the back of the garden, raped her viciously, beat her some more, stabbed her and then in an attempt to hide his tracks set fire to her. This is not an unusual occurrence as women suffer from unprovoked attacks every day all over the world, but only a few catch the popular imagination and this was one of them.

Then we have the events in India, namely the case of the 23 year old woman who boarded a bus in Delhi last month. Six men locked the door and savagely raped her for hours, including with a metal rod.  They dumped her naked in the street and after fighting for her life she died last weekend. In India a woman is raped every 22 minutes and few see justice. New Delhi has the highest incidence of sexual crimes against women in the whole of India - an instance of rape is reported every 18 hours and this is in a culture where there is serious discouragement for victims of rape to go to the authorities as women fear reprisals, humiliating treatment by the authorities and reputations indelibly stained.  In a lot of instances the authorities threaten women who disclose sexual abuse as was the case of another young woman who was gang raped, and who in the end committed suicide  after being warned by the police not to prosecute.

Photo: <><>

Protesters have massed in Indian cities on a daily basis since the attack demanding that the government and the police take sex crimes against women more seriously and hopefully this activism will continue so that change can be brought about.

Photo: Via Occupy Rogers Park 

"After last Sunday's brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in a moving bus Delhi, protests demanding safety for women are becoming louder each day. Huge crowds have gathered at India Gate and Raisina Hill in New Delhi this morning demanding tougher punishment for rapists and more attention to women's safety by the government and the police."

Published on Dec 22, 2012
Video coverage:!

India Gate in New Delhi

Photo: "The gang-rape of a young woman in New Delhi has sparked public outrage across India, bringing thousands of people onto city streets in protest against authorities' failure to ensure women's safety.

Sexual violence against women often goes unremarked and unreported in India, but on Friday hundreds of students and activists blockaded roads in New Delhi and marched to the president's palace, breaking through police barricades despite water-canon fire to demand the culprits' execution."

Read more:

Photo:  AP

March to the Presidential Palace in New Delhi

School children have held candle lit vigils

as have women

guitar victim
More than 600 guitarists in Darjeeling performed a singalong of John Lennon's Imagine in tribute to the gang rape victim whose death has stirred India

I think this photograph is extraordinary - for women in a country like India to take their clothes off in public shows incredible courage, determination but also desperation.

We need more of peeps like these: The Gulabi Gang... social justice crusaders from India to counter the violent and deeply entrenched patriarchy in India. Read more about them here -

And what about these modern day amazons?

The Gulabi Gang was formed as a response to domestic and sexual violence and caste-based discrimination. Some of their achievements so far: they've stopped child marriages; they've beaten up men who perpetrate domestic violence;  they forced the police to register crimes against Untouchables; they hijacked trucks full of food that were to be sold by corrupt officials. They are extremely effective and popular partly due to the fact that they openly defy abuses of male power.

'Why do people feel helpless?' wonders Sampat Pal Devi, founder of the group. 'If their rights are denied to them, all they've got to do is raise their voices'.

Congo rape victim shields her face

Meanwhile in the Congo, a study  due to be published in the American Journal of Public Health in June,  has found that 48 women are raped every hour - 1,152 women every day. The study found that sexual abuse was rampant not only in conflict areas where rape is used as a weapon of war, but also in the home with nearly one woman being subjected to some form of abuse every minute of the day. 'There are two surprises in the study', it was reported. 'First the magnitude of the problem - rates of rape are much higher than seen elsewhere. And second, that these alarming, shockingly high rape statistics are found in western Congo as well as well as northern and eastern Congo'.What needs to be noted here however, is that the number of reported violations are just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of women do not want to report being raped - the stigma is so high that many fear abandonment by their husbands and families if they disclose sexual abuse.

Dozens of thousands of protesters gather in Tahrir Square to refuse constitutional declaration issued by President Mohmaed Morsy, Cairo, 23 November 2012. Political forces called for protests to refuse the declaration.

Women have not had it easy in Egypt either. There have been numerous reports of women being sexually assaulted by the crowd while protesting in Tahir Square. A crowd of 200 men assaulted one woman in Tahir Square in June who eventually fainted before others came to her rescue. A crowd of 300 assaulted three women in Tahir Square in November this year.

Rally in Cairo against presidential frontrunner from Mubarak-era

When women took to the streets to protest against such harrassment by their so-called comrades, they were assaulted by a mob of hundreds of men despite the fact that a group of male supporters had formed a ring around the demonstrating women to protect them. The mob broke through and started to grope the women. 'Women activists are at the core of the revolution', said Ahmed Hawary, 'if you break them, you break the spirit of the revolution'.

On 25 December women assembled in Tahir Square and cut their hair in protest against Egypt's new fundamentalist constitution.

The protest was also because fundamentalists stopped some women from going to the polling stations to vote.

Medicins Sans Frontiers have estimated that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa. In an anonymous survey by the Medical Research Council, one in four men admitted to raping a woman nearly half of whom admitted to having raped repeatedly. Another MRC study found that a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six hours.

The case of the underage young woman who was raped in a party in Ohio while on-lookers took photographs, joked about what was being done to her and posted the photographs and comments on social media websites, is the first widely publicised woman-hating incident of 2013 in the West.

The extensive, brutal global war against women must stop. These attacks have nothing to do with lust or sexual arousal - they are instances of hatred and of an attempt to teach women that they need to stay in 'their place'. The majority of cases of sexual assault go unreported because of the deep-seated culture of misogyny across the world that blames the victim and excuses the perpetrator. It's a war against women and we are the only ones who can mobilize to stop it as we owe this to ourselves as well as to other women.

  • 'Forty eight women being raped every hour in the Congo, study finds', Jo Adetunji, The Guardian
  • 'Egyptian Women Sexually Assaulted in Tahir Square, The Guardian, 9 June 2012
  • 'Crowd of 300 Sexually Assaults Women in Tahir Square, Egypt Independent, 25/22/2012
  • 'Egypt: Women Cut their Hair... ', Informed Comment, 26/12/2012
  • 'How Men in South Africa are trying to stop Violence Against Women', Atlantic, Dec. 28, 2012

For further information on current affairs to go:

1 comment:

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    Violence Against Women