United Against Sexual Abuse In India

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As a female, it is possibly the most horrendous violation of humanity imaginable. Yet every 22 minutes a woman is raped, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Recent events in Delhi, dubbed by some as “India’s rape capital,” have served to throw these statistics into stark relief.

This Tuesday, January 15, in New York City’s Union Square, over 300 people joined together in a silent vigil to honor the life and meaning of Jyoti Singh Pandey’s life. Her story has become symbolic of horrific violence and discrimination against women in India after the news of her rape and murder on a bus in Delhi claimed international headlines.

The reaction this crime has prompted around the world has been significant, with the vigil organised this week by the Association of Indian Development NY just one of many similar events which have taken place since the attack on the pysitherapy student last month.

Had this blog been up and running a few weeks earlier, I would have posted a link to an interview with a friend’s mother in Toronto, Parveet Gill, one of the organisers of a protest in Toronto a fortnight ago, talking about why this particular incident could the catalyst that precipitates wider socio-cultural change in India.

Change.org now have 615,534 signatories petitioning the Indian president and the government to address the lack of gender justice, the lack of fear the perpetrators have in the law, as well as the level of police and judicial apathy. In their call to action they outline some alarming figures, including those released by The National Crime Records Bureau which state that 572 rapes reported from Delhi for the year 2011. 635 rapes had already been reported as of December 15, 2012.

Each time a rape is reported, civil society reacts with anger and outrage, which unfortunately dies down and is forgotten, until the next time. The question to ask: what is the inflexion point? At what stage do we say collectively and in one voice: Enough” – Namita Bhandare, New Delhi, India [coordinator of the Change.org petition]

Sign the petition here

Silent protest in Toronto, Canada

Silent protest in Toronto, Canada

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The Silent Mothers Of Argentina

MOTHER NEW

 

The warm evening air fills with the sound of an approaching drumbeat, the streets of Buenos Aires once again the scene of a protest. This time the marchers are demonstrating for the rights of doctors and nurses in the city, but they are at least the second group of activists we have seen today.

Earlier we had observed the famous Madres De Mayo baring their silent vigil outside of the city’s parliamentary buildings. Every week, for over three decades, the women have marched for the children who were “disappeared” during Argentina’s Dirty War.

These women serve as a poignant visual reminder of the atrocities committed by the military in the country between 1976 and 1983, their white headscarves symbolic of the blankets of babies who were lost to their parents so many years ago. The civilian government commission admits that around 11,000 children have been unaccounted for, but unofficial figures put the number at close to 30,000.

The question of revealing the identities of those who had been taken is complex. For some, discovering who they are and finding out that their families are not their families of birth is a traumatic experience, but it is for the access to this truth that the women continue to campaign.