Thirty-two years ago, at the age of 17, Sohalia Abdulali was gang raped in Bombay. She and a friend had gone for a walk up a mountain near her home, where four armed men captured both of them. They beat and raped her.
Three years later, angry at the ease of which what had happened was ignored, she wrote an essay under her own name describing her experience for an Indian women’s magazine. It created some stir that quickly quieted down.
A few weeks ago, with the death of the victim of the Delhi gang rape case, India was whipped fervor, vowing to find justice and to reform their laws to crack down on sexual assault.
But the rape issue in India isn’t going to be fixed until the people of India completely understand why it is so horrible. It’s horrible because the rapists are taking a person and then forcibly taking their will, their agency. As Abdulali put it in a recent New York Times op-ed, “It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored.”
There seems to be a disconnect somewhere, as is often for countries that see rapid growth and cultural change in only one generation. India is a country that has reversed its female leaders — Indira Gandhi was voted the greatest Indian Prime Minster 17 years after she was assassinated. But apparently some men on the street don’t see women as sisters, or daughters, or nieces, or mothers, or — really — people.
That needs to change, and it is changing. Though it may be slow, Indian men, as well as women, are taking up the movement in India. They’re protesting, they’re calling for justice, and they’re trying to make change. Yes, it’ll be slow, but it’s happening, and 32 years from now, hopefully stories like Abudalali’s will no longer happen. (end)