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Indian Army, Rape Us

The rape in Delhi has shocked India. Has it really? Or was it the sight of thousands of young students, male and female, demonstrating on the streets and being assaulted by the police for daring to demonstrate that made some Indian citizens think seriously about the problem? As for the Congress government that has, like most of the opposition parties, tolerated this for decades, it was the bad publicity abroad that finally did the trick, but only as far as this case is concerned. 

Rape takes place in police stations, in military barracks, in the streets and occasionally in some provincial parliaments. The feminist Communist parliamentarian Brinda Karat, who has long campaigned on the issue, pointed to the assault of a member of the Trinamool assembly by a male oppositionist on 11 December last year. ‘Women were not safe even inside the assembly,’ she said.

Legal activists in Kashmir and Manipur, occupied by the Indian Army, have produced report  after report highlighting cases of women raped by soldiers. Response from the top brass: nil. In a country where the culture of rape is so embedded, only a determined effort on every level can change things. This will not happen if this case and others are forgotten.

In 2004, a group of middle-aged mothers were so enraged by the military raping their daughters and sisters that they organised a  protest unique in the annals of  the women’s movement. They gathered outside the Indian Army barracks, stripped, and held up a banner that read ‘Indian Army Rape Us.’  That image, too, shocked India, but nothing changed. Only a few weeks later another rape scandal erupted in Manipur. If the Indian state is incapable of defending its women, perhaps the world’s largest democracy should seriously consider a change of name. Rapeistan comes to mind.

Comments on “Indian Army, Rape Us”

  1. altmann says:

    Combining -stan with some Hindi word for rape might be better, but Hindi does not seem to have direct words for rape. It looks like polite people don’t talk about it too directly, and the kind of people who do it also take a low macho pride in it. So, perhaps Berberistan would be better. Rape is one of the things that clearly separates barbarians (in the way that word is normally understood) from civilised people. Tolerating rape greatly reduces a people’s claim to be civilised. Gundaastan is another possibility. Crooks and thugs are commonly referred to as gundaa lawg.

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