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India

India should see rape report as a call to arms against sexual violence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2018, 6:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2018, 6:04pm

I refer to Yonden Lhatoo’s balanced perspective on the Thomson Reuters report labelling India as the worst country for women (“Yes, India has a rape problem but is it really a no-go for women?”, June 30).

The Reuters survey is procedurally flawed, based on an opinion poll without any clear indication of what data and criteria were used to compare different countries. Singling out India for censure is indeed distorted. I agree that creating such paranoia is not constructive.

However, the report has served to draw attention to an issue that continues to simmer away, below the visible surface of an increasing number of educated women, an upward surge in females in the workforce and a growing number of women in positions of power in politics and the government.

It brings to fore the question of whether things have actually changed for the better for women in India. How much has any Indian government actually done, to tackle the issue of violence against women?

Damning report on sexual violence is a wake-up call for India

What steps has the government taken to address the “rape culture” or the culture of impunity that breeds and normalises things like sexual harassment and groping. Without concerted efforts towards changing the mindset of the community, the problem will not disappear. It is worth noting that the same politicians who decried this report now and called it an “agenda” were the ones who, after a similar report in 2011, called the situation a “shame” when the opposition was in power.

Women’s rights are talked about by politicians only when it scores them brownie points in politics, in winning elections. I’d say if this flawed, misleading report reminds even a section of officials in the country that they have a fundamental obligation to address the issue of violence against women, it is worth the uproar it has caused.

The rational, patriotic thing to do would be to try and fix the problem, not just cry foul and shoot the messenger.

Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin