Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Delhi Gang Rape Case: India has emerged as a torchbearer nation for global awakening on sexual violence against women, says Lancet

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 4: India has emerged as a torchbearer nation for global
awakening on sexual violence against women.

Leading science and medical research journal, Lancet, has published an
editorial, “Sexual violence: a global awakening, from India”, in its
latest issue. Though there is agreement that India has failed to
address a pervasive culture of sexual violence and gender injustice,
the Delhi incident has come as a global awakening.

Stating that the Delhi rape incident has “rightly caused outrage and
anguish across India”, the Lancet said, “Immediately after her death,
following treatment in a hospital in Singapore, Delhi was locked down
by police to prevent outbreaks of public protest. Despite these
measures, thousands of Indian citizens took part in peaceful vigils to
express their anger at the violence inflicted against this young
student, as well as the harassment experienced daily by thousands of
Indian women”.

The eminent medical journal noted that there is agreement that India
has failed to address a pervasive culture of sexual violence and
gender injustice. This political neglect has created a permissive
environment where men can rape, beat, and kill a woman with impunity.

“India is a respected democracy that has delivered phenomenal economic
success for its growing middle class. But the country’s inattention to
fundamental protections and liberties for its citizens reveals a
nation facing a moral turning point. Yet it would be a grievous error
to conclude that sexual violence is a predicament confined to India.
It is not. Rape and other forms of violence against women and girls
are a feature of all societies. In South Africa, for example, as many
as a third of men have taken part in acts of rape”.

It suggested that as a first step, sexual violence must be
acknowledged as a “reality by all of us, and its causes discussed”. We
must support the creation of safe systems for preventing, reporting,
and remedying acts of sexual violence.

As advocates for women’s health, health professionals have a special
role in defeating rape. “It is time we exercised our voice more
strongly. The greatest respect we can give to the memory of the Indian
student who died on Dec 29 is by protecting and strengthening the
political and social rights of women worldwide,” the Lancet editorial
said.

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