New Internationalist

A beautiful country tainted with blood

Right now my thoughts go to India, that enigmatic country of colours and bright hues, of music and Bollywood, of gastronomic adventures and rich cultural traditions, of bygone times and modern influences.

I have been to India twice and from both trips, I came home with nothing but good memories.

Right now, however, I cannot remember much of India’s beauty. It is hard to believe that India, as I write this, is tainted with blood, preying on female tourists and even locals.

I stop in disbelief when I hear news of another horrific rape incident just months after the gruesome and widely publicized gang rape of a local female in December.

Over the weekend, I was shocked to read that a Swiss cyclist was gang-raped while camping with her husband in India.

Authorities detained and questioned 13 men in connection with the attack, which occurred on Friday as the couple camped out in a forest in Madhya Pradesh state after cycling from the temple town of Orchha, local police officer RK Gurjar said, according to the Guardian.

The men beat the couple and gang-raped the 39-year-old victim (another report says she is 40). Not content with the attack, they also stole the couple’s mobile phone, a laptop computer and 10,000 rupees, the report also said.

The details show the inhumanity of it all.

The victim’s husband was beaten up and tied to a tree, reports said.

The suspects, farmers from nearby villages, will be charged in court, with a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail.

Swiss foreign ministry spokesperson Tilman Renz was quoted as saying that the case was ‘deeply disturbing’.

I agree. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that India shocked the world with news of the gruesome gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian medical intern who was beaten in a bus with a male companion?

Reports said that there were only five others in the bus, including the driver, and that all of these men took turns raping the victim. The woman died 13 days later while undergoing medical treatment in Singapore.

There are other unreported incidents for sure, but one incident is just too many. Rape cases are reported every 18 hours, according to Indian police statistics.

I hope that Indian authorities make extra steps to address the problem and not blame the victim. It is not enough to be aware of the problem and to promise to the international media to do something about it.

I hope that the Indian government implements the stiffer penalties for crimes of rape.

According to a report, the Verma Commission, the panel created to implement changes in the law governing rape cases, adopted an ordinance to introduce stricter penalties for crimes against women, including death in extreme cases.

As is the case everywhere in the world, the problem is implementation. I hope that the Indian government will have the courage to implement it.

More importantly, I hope India as a society changes the way it regards women. I am keeping my fingers crossed. 

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