Barely a month after a twenty-three year old woman was brutally raped, beaten and murdered, another woman has been gang-raped via a public bus ride in Punjab, India. The latest news report states that a twenty-nine year old woman was alone on a bus with the driver and conductor. Instead of dropping her off in her village, she was taken to a remote location, forcibly moved to another site, where five more men joined in raping her throughout the night.
Since the rape and death of the first woman, there has been increased pressure on the government to enact change in the laws governing rape, and to take action to reduce the number of assaults on women. These protests take place even as word leaks out that one of the gang members being held in the murder of the 23 year-old medical student, was a juvenile at the time of the attack. As a seventeen year-old, he would be ineligible for the possible death penalty charges awaiting his alleged accomplices.
With these two gang-rapes, as well as the rape of a seven year-old girl in a Goa school bathroom, India must look to itself for the answer of why. The history of the country has always shown huge divisions in the social classes. Add to that the preference of having male children over females, and you end up with more abortions and fewer girls. As a result, women are not valued as highly as men, and families force their young girls into forced marriages and lives of prostitution. Does this create the mind-set for believing any attack on a woman is acceptable? This is only one question India needs to answer.
All around the country these attacks have caused women to fight for justice. Many more women are going to police to have their attackers arrested, instead of staying quiet and enduring the pain and humiliation in private. Police are starting to accept the word of the women when they report rape; a marked change in their procedure. It is a small first step in creating some system of women’s rights. For far too long these criminals have preyed on women without worry of arrest; at least now, that may be changing.