Thursday, October 21, 2010

A flood of news reports

I logged onto the NDTV website this evening, and in less than five minutes, I had spotted three different stories related to gender-based violence, in one way or the other.

At Ahmedabad's NID, nude man molests student

From Ahmedabad, the story of a student at the National Institute of Design (NID), who was assaulted by a naked man as she stepped out of her room onto the second floor corridor of the hostel, to get a glass of water from the cooler.

The last line of the news story: "There are about 250 girls in the NID who live in the college hostel. After sunset, now, they say they avoid leaving the hostel."

As we plan this year's campaign, we're doing a lot of reading and thinking about women's safety in public spaces, even in a city like Chennai that is considered relatively safe. From the stories we hear, this is clear: the burden is on women to protect themselves, and the easiest and often safest way to do this is to restrict their own movements. What does this say about their quality of life, if they cannot go down the road to buy a magazine or meet some friends for fear of being assaulted?

Indian American indicted for groping sleeping woman on flight

From the US, the story of a woman who was groped on a flight by a man sitting next to her. Again, whats striking is two things:
1. A case of sexual assault has been filed against the perpetrator. We know of many instances when similar incidents have been dismissed as trivial, and the woman is often told to just forget about it.
2. The incident took place on 28 September and less than a month later, charges have been framed and the case is in court.

I do not know enough about the US legal system to judge whether this is unusually quick or normal enough. But the fact is, if we could promise women speedy justice, without long-drawn out court appearances, I'm convinced that many more women would come forward to file charges against perpetrators of violence.

My grandmother wanted a boy: Saina Nehwal

And finally, back in India, Saina Nehwal talks about how her grandmother refused to look at her for a month after she was born - she was that disappointed that Saina wasn't a boy. Saina talks openly about how she has strained relations with her extended family who disagree with her parents on how women should be treated, and of how she hopes the wonderful performance of sportswomen from Haryana will have some effect on how families perceive the girl child.

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