“Miles to go, sisters, before we rest. Until then, we hang our heads in shame.”
March 11, 2015
The Toronto Sun
This year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 was marked in India by the news network NDTV showing a blank, black screen for a full one hour.
The blank screen, with only a flickering lamp in the background, was a protest against the government’s decision to ban India’s Daughter, a BBC documentary about the savage gang rape of a Delhi student in December 2012.
Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medical student along with a male friend, boarded a private bus to go home after watching a movie. Soon after, the young woman was brutally raped by five men and a juvenile on the bus, after they beat her male friend unconscious.
She later died from her injuries.
The ban on the documentary saw India divided along both gender and ideological lines.
While right-wing male backers of the government swamped social media with denunciations of the BBC and western media as anti-India, many women and the liberal left in India expressed outrage at the ban.
G. Pramod Kumar, senior editor at Firstpost.com said it best:
“It’s no secret that India has a horrible record of crime against women and that the country is the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world. Rape is one of the most common crimes against women in India and the UN human rights chief had called it a national problem.”
However, this was not the only story of its kind in the news on International Women’s Day.
A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was gang raped by seven men in 2006 was re-sentenced by a Shariah court to 200 lashes and six months in jail.
The Saudi teen had gone to meet a male friend and was sitting in his car when two vigilante youths questioned them.
On finding out the two were not related or married, they carjacked the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area, where she was raped and her friend was assaulted.
After the 2006 rape trial the guilty men were given lenient, custodial sentences, while the rape victim was sentenced to 90 lashes.
The woman’s lawyer appealed the punishment of the rape victim to a higher Saudi court.
Instead of overturning it in recognition she was the victim of a crime, the court more than doubled her sentence.
According to the website Breitbart.com, Saudi Arabia has defended the controversial decision to punish the victim, saying she was at faul.
The report said the “charges were proven” against the woman for having been in a car with a “strange male.”
Not to be outdone, gang rapists in Pakistan upped the ante by not just raping a 23-year old woman, but also making a 40-minute video that has gone viral.
Author Rafia Zakaria, expressing her fury in the Karachi newspaper DAWN, wrote:
“(In Pakistan) it is no longer enough to gang rape a girl; it is also necessary to make a video of it. And what good is that visual record, if it is not shared with the world? The men of Pakistan await, their fingers eagerly pressing buttons and sliding over screens, goaded by insatiable appetites that crave the violation of a woman’s body. They watch it again and again, they share it with friends.”
Miles to go, sisters, before we rest. Until then, we hang our heads in shame.