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Protests over brutal Delhi gangrape seize South Asia

Jan 02, 2013

India’s young rape victim has left her country and its patriarchal society seeking measures to end violence aimed at others sharing her gender. Similar cries for justice have resounded in other parts of South Asia.

Even as India demands speedy justice to the 23-year-old girl who died after being brutally gang-raped and assaulted in New Delhi on December 16, people from across South Asia have spilled out, taking to the streets, clamouring for putting an end to such inhuman incidents.

Members of civil society groups in Pakistan came out on roads to express their solidarity and protest against the brutal gangrape of a 23 year-old paramedic to express outrage at the gangrape of the young woman in India and to show solidarity with Indian civil society's demand for stronger laws to punish rapists.

Braving a cold evening on the New Years eve, protesters in Pakistan held a candle light vigil in the capital city of Islamabad against the culture of violence against women.

The protest, outside a prominent shopping arcade in Islamabad, was marked by placards that read ‘sisterhood goes beyond boundaries.’ A number of passers-by also joined the gathering in the Pakistani capital and expressed grief at the gangrape that triggered protests across India.

The protesters carried placards which read: ‘Jahan kahin bhi zulm hoga, hum awaaz uthayaenge.’  (We will raise our voice against atrocities, wherever it takes place) and ‘Jab tak aurat zulm sahegi, hum awaaz uthayaenge.’(We will raise our voice as long as women will have to bear injustice).

The protests and the media coverage following the New Delhi rape is being followed closely in other parts of South Asia. Giving wide coverage to the Delhi gangrape, Bangladeshi media has termed it as a ‘lesson’.  Quoting leaders from across the board, the papers have echoed the crescendo in India, urging speedy trial for rape cases and separate laws to deal with the protection of victims and witnesses to ensure justice.

In the neighbouring Nepal, students of National Medical College (NMC), Birganj,  protested with a rally and marched through the main roads of Birganj town which lies along the Indo-Nepal border. According to media reports, some housewives too joined the rally. Nepal too has witnessed troubled times as its women have fought for a life of dignity.

Several newspapers across the South Asia region have also carried editorials that have pointed to the violence perpetrated against women in the countries the newspapers are published from.

The number of rape cases in Delhi has increased in 2010 over the previous year. In 2009, there were 459 cases of rape reported across the city, while in 2010 the figure was 489. This roughly translates to one rape case every 18 hours. Also, there were 528 cases of molestation in 2009 and such cases went up to 585 in 2010 - or once every 14 hours.

With the spotlight on law and order, the debate remains on what has caused this decay of social fabric in India. The outrage over this incident is the reaction to years of such recurring incidents. One of the causes of such repeat can be the lack o convictions and the pending trials that do not make deterrents for offenders. In 2010, only 26 per cent of the perpetrators were convicted. If this is not bad enough, the court cases for these go on forever.

Also Read: South Asia conference on violence against marginalised women

Dhaka: Medical examinations traumatic for rape survivors

Nepal: Oppressing women in the name of religion

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