Why is it always rape? This is the question that rolls through my mind when I read about the Delhi gang rape tragedy and the ensuing debate on women's rights. The UN finally declared rape to be a war crime but what about women - medical students - riding the bus with their boyfriend in a major city?
A study across several cities in India found that a staggering 82 percent of Indian women say that they are reducing their working hours, leaving the office early because they don’t want to be traveling after dark, when the risk of assault could be higher. Some quit outright, afraid that commuting has become too dangerous.
It reminded me of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts of the 1960s that launched the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks did more than just refuse to sit in the back of the bus. Women were being raped on their way home from work - on the buses - but the police did nothing. So Rosa and several other women organized the bus boycott. They sought the support of black ministers but they declined. The boycotts were a success, the ministers joined in, and the rest is history.
For me, rape is used to keep women in their place. It lets us know that our bodies are not our own...that they exist for the pleasure of others...that they'll be taken with or without our consent. Rape is the ultimate dehumanizing experience.
I came across a quote that I think sums up this entire global rape issue: "if you want to control a culture you control it's women". I would argue that rape is more than a war crime - rape is a form of slavery. Whether we're talking about men gang raping a woman on a public bus or teen boys raping an unconscious girl at a party the end result is the same: subjugation.
Hopefully, we're seeing the beginning of a feminist movement in India *fingerscrossed* I would like to see this debate spill over to the rest of the global community, reignite feminism, and usher in a new era of equality.
In the end, the countries that refuse to recognize the full rights of women will be left behind economically. Today, India ranks 123rd in the world by women’s economic participation and 121st by educational attainment. Misogyny fucks your bottom line.
If we can't appeal to their sense of morality or justice, maybe we can appeal to their wallets.