By Louisa Ackermann and Juliette Cule
A 23 year old Indian woman has died as a result of internal organ failure, following a brutal gang rape, before being thrown off a moving bus by her six attackers. The death of this unnamed woman, who protesters are calling Damini, has inspired mass protests across Delhi, raising questions about the judicial system and attitudes towards women throughout India. Sexual assault and rape is a hugely prevalent problem, and the weight of it remains understated, often jovially referred to as ‘eve-teasing.’ While these attitudes are in no way exclusive to India, it is clear that the oppression women face there is something engrained and the support systems in response to these crimes are near invisible. This is a country in which twenty seven political candidates running in state elections in the past five years have declared they have been charged with rape, and has been ranked the worst country in which to be a woman by TrustLaw.
This wholly stems from an engrained sense of misogyny within Indian society – Soutik Biswas writes that “Female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an appalling skewed sex ratio.” If males are raised in an environment where women’s lives are worth less than theirs and they are taught they are superior to females, you can surely not expect to create any condition other than the widespread regard of women as a commodity. And a worthless one at that.
The saddest part is that while the incident of Damini has captured global attention, it is in not at all isolated. Raped women forced to marry their attackers, child brides and domestic violence are rife. This article outlines the day to day effects of India’s ‘stiflingly patriarchal mindset’, with women facing harassment, abuse and assault in a city that seems to have a ‘silent conspiracy to keep women scared’. Until this mind set has been confronted, this conspiracy will continue. Women are being called on by President Pranab Mukherjee to maintain peace, but until the women of India can live in peace in a country that does not threaten and condemn them, it is imperative that they have global support in their campaign.