Wednesday, 8 January 2014

We're definitely not wasting our time with feminism

By Jim Ankan Deka, via Wikimedia Commons
Just a few days ago I was asking 'are we wasting our time with feminism?' On the same day that I wrote that, a 16-year-old girl from Calcutta died, after being gang-raped and set on fire.

She was raped twice. The second time was the day after the first, when she came home from reporting her rapists to the police. That's when they also set her on fire. She died of her injuries two months later, on New Year's Eve.

Changing India for women

Last New Year's Eve I wrote about the rape and death of another young Indian woman on a bus in Delhi: 'Rape - not a serious crime in India'.

The strength of the outcry at the Delhi bus attack was impressive, with men and women protesting, demanding justice and remembering the victim. Here are some pictures of the protests. 

People asked whether this would change India for women. But of course an entire culture isn't going to change over one case, or even one year of protests.

And this new case, one of many in India and elsewhere in the world, shows how little has changed. This 16-year-old girl, instead of being protected after reporting her ordeal, is left to face a further attack, that results in what must have been horrific injuries, and the loss of her life.

It screams that, despite what happened a year ago, and despite the strength of the protests that followed it, rape is still not taken seriously in India. The message to would-be rapists is that gang-raping a 16-year-old is OK. It's only if you do it a second time, set fire to her, she dies and the world starts to take notice that the authorities might start to bother you.

While there are still large parts of the world that have this cavalier attitude to what happens to women's bodies, then feminism still has much work to do.

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