new delhi, india gang rape protest

Remember the 23-year-old woman who was raped by several men on a bus in New Delhi just a couple weeks ago? The vicious, unimaginable attack she experienced shocked the world with its brutality, including the men assaulting her with a metal rod so much so that she experienced internal injuries and died as a result. Protests have been sparked all over India regarding the treatment of women and rape victims in the country. Well, while we all obviously wish that the event never happened in the first place, it is a small comfort, at least, that the horrible human beings who committed the crime have been arrested and charged, and will hopefully face some serious form of justice.

Five men and one suspected minor have been charged with rape, kidnapping and murder. People have been so revolted and angered by their crimes that many are calling for the death penalty as punishment, and authorities say that they will be seeking it for the adults. The potential youth who was involved is presently being tested for his exact age via bone marrow (side note: science is fascinating) to figure out whether or not he’ll be charged as an adult or minor. In the event that he’s declared the latter, he could be sent to a children’s home for up to three years.

One of the most interesting aspects of this case is that nobody seems to be on these rapists’ sides now. Whereas there’s always a bunch of victim-blaming rape apologists following this type of news, they’ve been pretty silent since the woman died. In fact, even from a legal standpoint, nobody seems to be defending them. According to CNN:

The 11 lawyers who make up the executive board of the Saket Bar Association on Wednesday vowed not to represent any of the accused assailants because of the nature of the crime. In addition, the bar association has appealed to its 7,000 members also to refrain from representing the accused, said the association’s president, Rajpal Kasana.

Their reasoning? “We are not taking this case on the grounds of humanity.” Good on you, and good on India for taking this seriously — particularly the protestors. Without their public cry for justice, the sad truth is that this crime would not be receiving nearly as much attention. And, however fucked up this is, we know that when sexual violence does not receive attention, the rapists often walk free.

The fact of the matter is that rape is not taken nearly seriously enough in the majority of the world. Yes, some places are better than others about it, but just look at the Steubenville gang rape case; obviously, those teenagers laughing about the collective assault of a girl are horrible people, but what about those who say nothing? And why aren’t we protesting in the streets, livid over the treatment of that victim? Being outraged and disgusted and horrified are not fun states of mind, I know, but those are the only appropriate responses to events like this.

However, we also must take at least a small bit of comfort (or something like it) when justice, anywhere in the world, appears to be progressing against sexual violence. This is so, so important because for such a long time, rape survivors have been treated with flippancy and disregard to their experiences; several men being arrested, charged and heavily, publicly criticized shows other survivors that they are not alone, and they can be heard. Of course, there is still such a long road ahead, but at least the world is making steps.

Photo: Anjani Trivedi/Associated Press