No silver bullet can end sexual violence in India

There has been a marked increase in European awareness of sexual violence in India. Pressure from outside and from within India has brought change, but not a solution.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
No silver bullet can end sexual violence in India - NewsMavens
Indian women. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

It's been five years since a 23-year-old physiotherapy student died in Delhi after a brutal gang rape. The whole of India was indignant at the time -- for months, Indian women took to the streets to protest against a system that is leaving women in dire straits. Since then, there has been a marked increase in European awareness of sexual violence in India. But what has this brought any change?

In recent years, the Parliament of India has passed stricter laws, approved more severe sentences, and criminalized offenses such as voyeurism and stalking. But a recent study by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) paints a bleak picture: survivors of sexual assault are still stigmatized and abandoned by the system. Jayshree Bajoria, the author of the study, told Der Standard, "The existing laws are good -- but they are not enforced. "

It is true that the increase in reports of sexual offenses shows that survivors are more willing to come forward. However, Human Rights Watch found grave grievances in several areas.

The human rights organization reports accounts of police violence, of degrading hospital tests to assess virginity, and of courts that do not abide by the law.

In addition to the misdemeanors of the authorities, Human Rights Watch warns of ongoing stigmatization for survivors. For example, in one case, a young woman had to move out because her landlord did not want to have a victim of sexual violence under his roof. According to HRW, some judges still think in terms of “marital quality” instead of the integrity of one’s body.

How can this stigma be permanently eliminated? According to Bajoria, dialogue with women and men alike is a good starting point. Sex education in schools, including consent training, would also help as would enforcing existing laws. There is, however, no miracle cure. 

Details from the story:

  • Sexual abuse and gang rapes are not uncommon in India.
  • When a student died in New Delhi in 2012 after a gang rape, there were major protests and laws were tightened.
  • Activists point out that the police does not apply the laws and often do not take the victims seriously.
  • Existing laws and regulations are too flimsy, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
  • Survivors of sexual assault are still stigmatized
  • The number of reports of sexual offenses has risen from 24,923 in 2012 to 34,651 in 2015.
EDITOR'S PICK:
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy