by Matilda Branson
As I shudder a little on a foolish sojourn to the bathroom scales, shudder at the excesses of Christmas and New Year festivities, then sit down to read the morning paper, I see the recent gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student in India continues to be splattered across the pages of the world media. The woman died of her severe injuries two days later and five men are facing rape and murder charges, with a sixth facing charges in juvenile court.
This case has caused a wave of public protests across India, calling for an end to sexual harassment, assault and other forms of violence against women and the lack of accountability or enforcement of laws by authorities, endemic within patriarchal societies like India. This outcry has spread to neighboring countries like Nepal, where women’s rights groups and activists have submitted a petition to Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and are staging rallies and protests outside his residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, dubbed the #OccupyBaluwatar on Twitter.
These protests, following the outcry of the Delhi gang-rape, centre on the rape case of Sita Rai, a Nepali teenager who last month was robbed of all her savings and raped by security personnel at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, upon returning from working in Saudi Arabia. Rights groups are demanding justice beyond mere compensation from Nepal’s Prime Minister and the government.
As we see protests sweeping across India, Nepal and neighboring countries, I wonder, is this the tide turning against a persisting global complacency on gender-based violence? With the world media for once receptive to reporting on violence against women and on a rape case far from home, with others like Nepal up in arms over similar rape cases, this might be the opportunity to get people to listen, and to take real action on stopping violence against women.
(photo by Jim Ankan Deka via Wikimedia Commons)