It’s kind of ironic a month before the celebration of Women’s Equality Day in the US, two sisters in India were sentenced to be gang-raped and then to parade naked around the streets with their faces blackened because their brother eloped with a married woman from a higher caste. Oh, and that we didn’t really hear anything about it.
What’s even more shocking is that one of the sisters is only 15-years-old.
The local all-male village council ruled for Meenakshi Kumari, 23, and her younger sister, to also be paraded naked with their faces blackened through the streets. This was a means of “[avenging] the dishonour” that their brother, Ravi, had committed by marrying the woman.
Meenakshi and her sister fled their home to the capital after the decision was made and they were able to submit their petition for protection for their family at the Supreme Court. However, they are unable to return home as to do so, they would have to face the punishment.
These systems of “justice” is very common in rural India and decisions such as these continue to be carried out across India despite the Supreme Courts rule that the decrees of these councils are illegal. The country has a history of controversial treatment of women which was brought under scrutiny after the gang-rape and murder of a female student in 2012, along with other murders and sexual assault cases since.
What I find ludicrous is that a country that is developing so much on the global stage economically and scientifically can continue to openly commit such barbaric acts against women. Only 8 months ago, India made a historic breakthrough to launching the cheapest manned mission to Mars. And yet under India’s Supreme Court current rules, which were reviewed after 2012, rape within a marriage is still not recognised, and same-gender sex carries the same punishment as rape.
Amnesty International have created a petition to demand the local authorities to intervene immediately. To go sign, click here
This case, amongst many others, shows that the problem with this goes much deeper. We live in a society in which women are made to pay for the actions of men. When two innocent sisters are to be sexually humiliated and violated for the actions of a man who eloped with a women who consented to this marriage shows the injustice faced and extreme patriarchal attitude in the rural villages of India. However, mindsets such as these can also be seen in every day life: when a woman is humiliated for having an affair with a married man, or a married woman being humiliated and degraded for having an affair with another man. A very public case of this is Monica Lewinsky’s alleged affair with Bill Clinton and she recently gave a TED talk about cyberbullying and the public’s perception of her. When the woman is put in the limelight of these affairs, what people seem to conveniently forget is that it takes two people to cheat. To quote my good friend, “it takes two to tango”.
On a different note but a similar tangent, the internet explodes whenever intimate pictures of a woman is released, especially those of the women in the public eye. Often too, they receive abuse for it. What doesn’t seem to make sense to me is they receive abuse for wanting to have some intimacy, but the perpetrator who violated their privacy often goes unnoticed.
To quote Gabrielle Union about not only the issues about society mentioned in the paragraph above, but also the cruel treatment of the two Indian sisters:
“I can’t help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them. These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide… We have done nothing wrong.”