India may be the world's biggest democracy, yet there is no specific law against sexual assault and harassment and the only type of rape that is recognized is vaginal penetration by a penis. So when a young student in Guwahati left a bar two weeks ago and was attacked by a gang of 18 or more men, no one called the police for at least 20 minutes.
According to the Guardian, she was dragged into the road by her hair, her clothes were torn, and her breasts were groped while her perpetrators smiled at the cameras that captured her assault -- including one from a local TV station that later broadcast the footage on Assam's NewsLive channel. The attack happened on a busy three-lane street and the victim cried out for help from passing motorists who did nothing. It took 45 minutes for the police to show up.
When the police eventually turned up, they took away the woman, who is†20 or 21....While NewsLive re-played pixellated footage of her attack throughout the night, she was questioned and†given a medical examination. No attempt was made to arrest the men whose faces could clearly be seen laughing and jeering on camera. Soon afterwards, the editor-in-chief of NewsLive (who has since resigned)†remarked on Twitter that "prostitutes form a major chunk of girls who visit bars and night clubs".
It was only a few days later, when the clip had gone viral and had been picked up by the national channels in Delhi, that the police were shamed into action....Six days after the attack, the chief minister of Assam, the state where Guwahati is located, ordered the police to arrest a dozen key suspects. He met the victim and promised her 50,000 rupees (£580)†compensation.
This is just the tip of the iceberg exposed by the Guardian article "Why is India so bad for women?" Commenting on the attack, a columnist in the Hindustan Times wrote, "Men abuse women in every society, but few males do it with as much impunity, violence and regularity as the Indian male." He backed up his statement with a disturbing statistic: out of all the G20 countries, †a poll of 370 gender specialists worldwide identified India as the worst place to be a woman.
Helen Pidd, the Guardian reporter who covered the story, goes into extensive detail on the brutal treatment of women in India. For another perspective on why Indian society fails to protect women from crimes and then blames them for it, Indian feminist and writer Sarojini Sahoo shares her perspective among the articles linked below.
More on the treatment of women in India:
- Feminism in India - A Conversation with Sarojini Sahoo
- India's Lowest Women Forced Into Inhuman Work
- The Sisterhood of the Rebellious Pink Panties