Gang rape in India becomes important Women History Month topic

On March 8, communication professor Sanjutka Ghosh hosted a brown paper bag luncheon in the Campus Center 1787 room in honor of Women’s History Month. The event was a presentation about the gang-rape that took place in December in Delhi, India.

CHANGE coordinator Amy Bremel suggested the topic to Ghosh, who was in India when it happened. The audience consisted of about 10 women who were very active in the discussion of the topic and had many reasons for attending.

“I used to direct women’s studies at another institution. I want to celebrate International Women’s Day and I try to attend as many women studies events as I can,” said Associate Dean of Academics Ingrid Johnston-Robledo.

On Dec. 16, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey, was attacked while returning home after going to see the Life of Pi with friends. Her and a friend were waiting for the bus when a bus appeared that was not part of the public transportation system, but looked similar. During the 19-mile bus ride, Pandey was brutally raped by five men. A metal rod was used in the rape causing her internal organs to be massacred.

Once found by the police, she was transported to Singapore to receive organ transplants. She died Dec 28.

“This is just brutal. I didn’t know the rape was that brutal. How do you change the mentality of these people when a 17-year-old is the worst offender. If they [India] are so intellectual why are they so backwards?” ranted a physical plant employee who preferred to remain anonymous.

Within 24 hours, the rape stirred up a series of rallies and movements all throughout the country. The protests took place from the president’s house all the way to the Indian Gate.

“There were miles and miles of people, it was just beautiful,” said Ghosh.

The protests centralized around a few specific themes of patriarchy, women’s rights, shame of India and violence with violence.

“[The Protesters] were trying to shame the government into doing something,” said Ghosh.

Some signs displayed messages of death, as well as castration for the rapists. Others were messages shown through artwork, often done by many college students.

One of the most important factors of the rallies was how much male participation occurred. Men stood below to hold women protesters above them so their voices could be heard and their images could be seen.

“The government is corrupt, the police are corrupt, and the judicial system is corrupt,” said Ghosh in her speech about punishment for the rapists.

Ghosh showed images of police using tear gas and water cannons against the protesters.

Even though the president of India is a woman, as is the chief of police in Delhi, Ghosh said “that doesn’t change the fact that we live in a patriarchal society.”

The men involved in the rape were indicted and the minor among them was sentenced to a juvenile home.  

“The 17-year-old was the primary aggressor and he won’t be convicted or held to the standard that the other men will be,” said Amy Bremel.

Even though many can see how wrong these events are, it still takes time to change the fact that they happen.

“Attitudes take a long time to change even when people have voting rights,” said Martha Coulter.

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