Global fund for Women joins millions of people in India and the world in the outcry against the gang rape and consequent death of the college student in Delhi, India.
Unfortunately, this incident is but the end of a spectrum of violence that Indian women face every day. On Wednesday a teenage gang rape victim from Punjab committed suicide after police there refused to even file a complaint. Adding further insult, police in the latter case suggested the young woman either marry one of her rapists or accept a financial settlement.
Each and every day, Global Fund grantees in India, like Bangalore based Vimochana are battling the rising tide of crimes committed against women – from “accidental deaths” of young women killed for more dowry, to women who venture out of the home to sexual harassment and rape. In Bangalore city, touted as India’s Silicon Valley, Vimochana notes “there were 97 registered rape cases in 2011 in Bangalore city which means 7 women victims each month.”
Despite ostensible gains for women’s rights in India, more women in positions of leadership in government, more women business leaders and more women than ever going out to work in India’s booming tech and call center industries, violence against women is increasing.
The issue at hand is not one of just ensuring the safety of women on India’s streets. There is blatant disregard for women’s rights at the very highest levels of governance in the country. All major political parties have fielded candidates for state elections that have included candidates who have declared on disclosure forms that they have been charged with rape. Six elected state legislators have charges of rape against them. Reports of rape by the police of women and girls in their custody across the country and by armed forces in regions of India like the northeast and Kashmir are commonplace. In 2011, rape rose nearly 10% over the previous year, with more than 24,000 reported cases, and with more than half of the victims aged between 18 and 30. Even its most benign form, the social attitudes that prevail have families insisting daughters go back to violent situations in their in-laws’ homes, and police and judges urging women reporting rape to “settle out of court” or marry the perpetrators.
Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, strongly called on world leaders to act and stop this senseless violence on women, “The rape of women is trivialized all over the world. Can this death and the uncountable daily deaths and suffering continue to count for nothing?” We say no.