One of the great things about traveling is that it forever links you to places and people far away from your everyday context. So, I am finding that in the aftermath of my sabbatical travels, I continue to pay much more attention to news coming out of India, Turkey and Japan–and of course, who could miss the news coming out of Israel and Palestine. Having spent time in these countries–time that was very signficant for me personally and professionally–I feel in some way touched by events of consequence that happen there, and such events matter to me in a much more personal sort of way than they before.
So, as you might imagine, then, I have been following closely the story of the young woman who was gang-raped and subsequently died [that is, she was raped and murdered] in New Delhi, and the firestorm of protests that erupted after the story was publicized.
Here is a great editorial on the subject:
Having been in New Delhi, and having experienced–albeit in a much more limited and generalized sort of way–the feelings of vulnerability that so many women there have come to accept as an unavoidable part of their daily lives [to say nothing of the actually physical and verbal abuse that often accompany it], it continues to shock me when governments, law enforcement officials and patriarchal societies in general blame women themselves for the state of things. Like, for example, emphasizing what women need to do to avoid “being raped” rather than addressing the problem of what to do to stop men from raping. Cultural norms of this society and others like it dictate that women are made to feel responsible for the violence against them and they bear the shame for the stain on their honor and purity. And, as unbelievable as it may seem, traditional thinking in India deems that “the worst aspect of rape is the defilement of the victim, who will no longer be able to find a man to marry her — and that the solution is to marry the rapist.” Most of us who live in the west cannot begin to imagine what it is like to bear the weight of such cultural baggage.
That is why it is incumbent upon those of us with so much privilege, particularly those of us who are Christian and seek to stand with Christ on the side of the marginalized and oppressed, to make these stories known, so that these women are not forgotten, that much-needed structural changes might occur, and that their daughters might have the opportunity to experience a baggage-free, different kind of world. Not only in India, but everywhere women are exploited and violated–and that means here at home, too.