Guest post by Monica Sarkar, a freelance journalist and writer. Original post at http://missinterpreting.com:
The tragic case of the Delhi gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman last year forced India to take a long, hard look at itself in the mirror and decide how to change.
Or rather, the citizens looked at the government and judiciary system and made it reconsider how it deals with the abuse of its women.
But let’s not forget one thing: violence against women is a crime the world over. Alongside the stories emanating from India, there have also been reports of gang rapes in Mexico, Brazil andSouth Africa.
In war torn countries such as Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, sexual violence is used as a weapon of war – even after a ceasefire is declared.
And it isn’t restricted to the developing world; in the UK, approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year.
Society’s fabric drapes mens’ shoulders
Patriarchal beliefs, sometimes subtle and other times misogynic, are woven into the fabric of many societies that hold down women and drape the shoulders of men.
The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states: “…violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”
Perhaps there has been more noise about the incidents in India because, out of sheer frustration and anger, its citizens have taken to the streets and are shouting about them too.
So when you hear or read of such tragic tales from India, I hope you don’t just point your finger, shake your head and think this is India’s problem. Because violence against women is likely to be happening on your soil, but your attention is on another land.
But we need to be aware; a link has even been suggested between the abuse of women and international violence. The study, entitled “Heart of the Matter,” in the Harvard-published journalInternational Security, concluded that the best predictor of societies’ peacefulness is how well they safeguard the interests of women. Therefore, mistreat women and you mistreat the world.
Yes, India’s rape problem is alarming. But look at your own country, look at your people, look at yourself: how do you treat your women and how do you need to change?