The trial of five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a medical student in India has got under way this week. The gang rape of the 23-year-old woman and the beating of her male friend on a moving bus in New Delhi have produced global debates about women’s rights and the subject of rape and sexual assault against women. Tragically, due to her extensive injuries she died on December 29 2012.
A week later following her death, her father Badri Singh Pandey, 53, spoke out and said “We want the world to know her real name,” “I am proud of her,” he added. “Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter.”
We cannot forget the horrific assault that was carried out on Jyoti. Because when we do, we forget the harsh reality that faces so many women. But worse still, we forget Jyoti. We forget how she fought up until her dying days, and how she united so many women in her suffering.
It can be argued that we live in a society today that teaches “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape”. For this reason women that are a victim of rape, feel that they are unable to stand up and speak out. Instead they are filled with a sense of shame and guilt; mistakenly believing that somehow they didn’t do enough to prevent getting raped.
Societies around the world facilitate an environment in which rape is acceptable by blaming its victims. Shortly after Jyoti’s death the Independent reported of “an Indian spiritual leader” who “sparked outcry by claiming the student raped and murdered in Delhi was partly responsible for what happened (…) – the latest in a series of controversial comments campaigners say highlight a mindset within the heartland of India that permits such assaults to take place.”
Attitudes like these are prevalent all over the world as US Congressman Akin, US Judge Derek Johnson, Bradford MP Galloway, and most recently Indonesian high court judge Daming Sunusi, all recently demonstrated – and these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Rape is a crime and the weight of this crime should not be shared between the victim and the perpetrator. There is nothing that could ever justify a rape – No means No.
Jyoti’s story is shocking and heartbreaking and for some it’s easy to see this as an Indian problem, or even as a problem of developing countries; but did you know that every year in Britain, there are around 69,000 female and 9,000 male rape victims?
The perception that women can be taken advantage of, as the weaker sex, needs to be changed. This change can only start with us as mothers, sisters, teachers and leaders. Let’s teach our society DON’T RAPE and give the victims the support they deserve.
At Jan Trust we aim to give women the strength to empower themselves, no matter what their circumstance is. We provide advice and guidance on a number of issues. Visit our website on www.jantrust.org