Five men charged with murder in Indian gang rape case

Watch this great Democracy Now segment on the reaction to India’s gang rape case.

By now, you’ve probably heard that the young woman who was brutally raped on a bus in New Delhi two weeks ago died from her injuries. Today, five of her attackers have officially been charged with murder, rape, and other crimes and could face the death penalty.

Public protests have continued throughout India since the woman’s death. As Nilanjana Roy writes, in a country world where violence against women is routine, there is occasionally “one that gets through the armour that we build around ourselves” and comes to be a symbol–a reason to say “enough.” It seems this case could be that tipping point in India.

The protests are inspiring–but they’re only the beginning. Hopefully, Indian women’s rights activists will continue to be able to channel this widespread public outrage–which has ensured this case has been handled far more promptly than most rape cases in the country–into demands that go beyond bandaid solutions and the death penalty for these specific perpetrators–and get to the heart of the problem.

As Kaavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, said in an important speech a couple weeks ago, there’s been too much talk–by politicians, the government, the police–about ensuring women’s ”safety” instead of protecting women’s right to “freedom without fear.” As she says, “A whole range of patriarchal laws and institutions tell us what to do in the guise of keeping us ‘safe.”‘ (Check out Krishnan’s comments in the video above as well.) 

This is a problem, of course, that’s all too familiar to those of us in the US, too. While India’s rape culture has its own culturally, historically, legally specific dynamics, it shares this with the rape culture in the US–which, I don’t think I need to remind you, is also really, really bad: It will only be truly defeated by those who believe that, as Laurie Penny recently wrote, “rape does not have to be a fact of life,” that male violence is not inevitable, and that women are not truly free until they are “free from fear.”

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