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Fury Over Rape In India

All of India up in arms over a brutal gang rape and killing. We’ll look at the treatment of women and the uproar in India.

Indian women carry placards as they march to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. (AP)

Indian women carry placards as they march to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. (AP)

The agony of India over the brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman on the streets of New Delhi has been something to behold. Hundreds of thousands of Indians, men and women, in the streets. Decrying the attack and a government and police blind eye to sexual harassment and violence that may have promoted it.

Sexual violence happens everywhere in the world. But the furious response in India to the Delhi attack suggests a special problem here.

This hour, On Point: India, up in arms over a murderous rape. The treatment of women and the uproar in India.

-Tom Ashbrook


Anand Giridharadas, writes the “Currents” column for the New York Times. Author of “India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking.”

Sonia Faleiro, Indian author, her op-ed “The Unspeakable Truth About Rape in India” was published in the New York Times last Wednesday. Author of “Beautiful Things: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars.”

Tom’s Reading List

Nilanjana Roy “That girl, the one without the name. The one just like us. The one whose battered body stood for all the anonymous women in this country whose rapes and deaths are a footnote in the left-hand column of the newspaper.”

The New York Times “I lived for 24 years in New Delhi, a city where sexual harassment is as regular as mealtime. Every day, somewhere in the city, it crosses the line into rape.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    The answer is, as it has always been; “ Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. “ When will we learn ?

  • Shag_Wevera

    There are a lot of countries on Earth with a tenuous grip on civilization.  Many places I wouldn’t consider travelling to for safety reasons.  This is problem that can only be remedied over time by the people of India.  Today, we joust at wind mills.

  • RG1808

    I grew up in Delhi and the normal was to veer all forms of sexually offensive behavior in public spaces – buses, streets, shops and if any time help was needed to carry about with school or work, the unspoken rule was to not go to the cops. The administration and offenders were hand in glove. Women grow up learning to put up a facade of nonchalance – a misplaced one at that.  Things needed to have changed a long time ago. It is unfortunate and sad that things had to come to this for the government to wake up. 

  • Ilanthamizh Siva

    This rape issue highlights a problem that is not discussed in the mainstream media – the issues relating to job-related internal migration.
    The accusers are believed to have migrated to Delhi from other states. Though not a new phenomenon, internal migration by people between ages 18-25 in search of jobs to other states has been very high in the past 5 years. They obviously settle for meager wages with worst living conditions and economic glitter all around them. This opens up a newer set of problems including friction with local people, suspicion and possible crime (of course not all). These young migrants are very mobile and can get away with crime very easily. (I found this issue to be very genuine not demagoguery).


  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    That rape is an act of bestiality. they are animals.

    if india does not want the whole world to think they are a nation of animals.. then they should stop the infanticide of female babies and female fetus… 

    the act of killing female fetus and this act of gang rape should put the whole nation to shame..

    SHAME to the indian government… to the corruption of the indian government… 

    I hope the young and professional indians including men continue to stand up for women rights in india.

  • ToyYoda

    Where did this culture of violence against women in India come from?  If women fear abuse from men, do they not teach their sons to respect women?  Do women have any say on how they raise their sons?


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I didn’t know the police wasted time arguing over whose jurisdiction they were in – they should be standing trial over her death as well.

  • Scott B

    The women of the country need to go on a sex strike until laws change, along with the attitudes of many males towards women. 

    It’s sad and disturbing that the woman of India have to constantly take precautions to not getting raped whenever they step out into public. Then have the culture, as well as the police, blame the victim for being there and inciting men to rape. 

    No woman should have to leave her house and have her child tell her to not get raped, or a mom tell her daughter the same thing; and that happens every hour of every day there.

  • MG Drago

    What do your guests make of the announcement that reporters will not be allowed at the trial of the accused rapists?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FREN4ORSTJULNQ2NGYWJEPWBNU Ryan M

    What bothers me is that this single criminal act is made into a gender political issue. Just a quick look at India’s crime stats clearly show that a young male is the most likely victim of a random crime. Would this even be an issue if it was a male victim? Would there be global coverage if it was a young man murdered? We all know the answer, so it’s odd to make this a gender issue.

    • rievler

       Let me guess…you also hold that the Newtown massacre coverage/discussion shouldn’t be about guns?

    • nickric

      It’s not odd at all to make this a gender issue. You just don’t have any idea what India is like, and you sound sheltered. I suggest you go to india and see perhaps it will open your eyes to a lot of things about this world, and even some things you might be blind to in your very own country. And I don’t mean go stay in a 5 star hotel in Mumbai just to say you did it. Don’t be a tourist, explore that place. Take a flight to a random town, on your own. Talk to people who live in mud huts, go ahead and walk through the endless shanty towns. Spend a few weeks traveling India, remote villages, random towns. You will come back and feel utterly foolish for your comment, and you’ll have a better sense of how the majority of the world lives and dies.

  • Melli Annamalai

    Tom, I grew up in India and moved to the US when I was 24.  The thing I felt most free about living here was that I could walk down the street without being cautious about who was on the street, without enduring stares, and could travel on a train or a bus without fear or being groped.  I vividly remember that as being one of the most enjoyable things about living here.  You ask Sonia whether eve-teasing in India compares to living here – there is no comparison at all with respect to this. 

  • Ilanthamizh Siva

    Come on Anand. Please dont compare this uproar to Tunisian revolution. Indians responds only when they are emotionally provoked by the media. Otherwise, they are insensitive.  Soon after the Delhi incident, a school girl in south Tamilnadu was raped and thrown out of train. Hey nobody cared for this school girl. Another teenage girl in Tamilnadu was raped during the New Year’s eve. Isn’t this hypocrisy ? What India needs is more than emotional outburst, candle vigils and street protests.

  • ambika kamath

    Anand is being incredibly classist in his statements about this being a problem of men coming to the cities from poorer, more rural areas. India’s patriarchal attitudes are undeniably prevalent in city-dwelling people as well. 

  • Unterthurn

    There is something different. My experience has been that women of India can often be heard putting down other women. I find it new to hear them standing up for each other. I have heard them say demeaning things about neighbors or other’s daughters in front of their sons that lead one to think these women are on a social ladder below them and can be regarded as an object and not humans. The way woman are regarded begins in one’s closed-net circles.

    • GayatriIA

      Seriously? As an Indian woman, I take strong exception to this sort of self-congratulatory, racist generalization,  which unfortunately, this incident has generated all too often in the US. Might I remind you that Indian women’s groups took the lead in publicizing this outrage, without which, you would not be hearing about it?

  • Matt Wade

    So That’s How You Prevent Your Own Gang Rape
    by Cienna Madrid

    Indian spiritual leader Asaram Bapu told his followers that the 23-year-old student allegedly gang raped by six men in December was just as responsible as her attackers for her own assault. You see, she apparently didn’tpray to God hard enough to prevent the rape-with-iron-bar:Addressing his followers recently, Asaram said that when the girl encountered six drunk men “she should have taken God’s name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said I consider you as my brother and should have said to the other two ‘Brother I am helpless, you are my brother, my religious brother.’She should have taken God’s name and held their hands and feet… then the misconduct wouldn’t have happened.”He also went on to say, “Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistake is not committed from one side).”The girl was gangraped on the night of December 16 in a moving bus and died nearly a fortnight later at a Singapore hospital.”The accused were drunk. If the girl had chanted hymns to Goddess Saraswati and to Guru Diksha then she wouldn’t have entered the bus…,” he added.Sounds like the Christian Right and Mike Huckabee over here. Relgiious fundamentalism! Its crazy everywhere!

  • Scott B

    Sad to say that there’s culture of indifference in the country for those that aren’t family.  Family will pour out of the woodwork and to backflips to help a family member; but a crowd, or traffic, moving for an ambulance doesn’t happen, as the person in the gurney isn’t known to them in any way.

  • newsindiatimes

    I went to college in India, and lived in New Delhi. Even back then, it was the most horrible place so far as women were concerned. I knew that the moment I stepped out of the house, I was on a battlefield. That I had to fend off men as I walked on the road, or anywhere at any time, day or night.
    I was a fighter in a way. But even I could not take the public transport – I would rather risk my life hitching a ride back from college on a motorcycle with unknown men – than take public transport. I knew the man riding the motorcycle knew he was in danger if I shook the bike – and would not molest me.
    We fought very hard. The women’s movement in India was so very active, we took self defense courses.
    When I came to the US, it was like a huuuuge weight lifted off my head. I hate New Delhi and most of North India, and if a country cannot protect its women, it is no place to live.

  • maresenn

    Thank you for doing this story – even though I had to turn it off 4 minutes into it. The description of that woman’s horrendous torture was too much for me to handle. I’m grateful there exists those who can so that change might be effected.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YG4H6E7N4X7KVO6LIHBYTAWGMI Mamatha

    Its sad that we immigrants of India are not able to help the system there because the political system is so corrupt. There is no value to life. Though I have gone back couple times each time my experience has been bad.

  • Shashin Umrania

    uptill 10 years ago, general public were under fear of doing anything wrong because of fear of getting involved with aggressive and abusive police actions, also laid back court system. Now a days, those same police are suppressed and fearful of “Humanitarian”, media, & cell phone recordings. And General Public has become fearless with the help of power of money to buy Lawyers, judgement, politics, etc.

  • Adnaan Ahmed

    Indians are premative creatures and of the 1.2-1.3 billion of them, I would imagine that only a handful can be thought of “human”, where as the rest are just don’t understand what human rights and equal rights mean. This applies to both men and women who are brain washed into thinking that a woman’s only worth is to have male children.

    • RigDan

      At least in India the crime was publicised and the criminals will ultimately be punished. You cannot claim the same in the Muslim world

    • RigDan

      To paint all Indians with such a broad brush is like saying that all Americans are a nation of child killers (Sandy Hook), or all Catholic Priests are child molesters or all Muslims are terrorists.

  • Potter

    Thank you, excellent program, very enlightening.

  • truegangsteroflove

    I wonder if anyone else has noticed that Tom Ashbrook is more aggressive, even belligerent when questioning women, rudely interrupting, browbeating, and demanding “WHAT IS THE ANSWER??!!” This isn’t the first time by far. One interview that stands out is from two years ago with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. T.A. was almost apoplectic with his arrogance, rudeness and thinly disguised resentment.

    It took a while tonight, but he finally stopped saying “New Delhi.” This is for some reason a favored Western, but especially American variation on the theme of insulting by mispronunciation. We tend to hear it from journalists and politicians, but not from Indians or Americans who have actually spent time in India.

    These are not meaningless observations. When a man is interviewing women about gender specific concerns and raises his emotional level while behaving in a more rude fashion, something is revealed. He likely is unaware of it on a conscious level, but it is pretty likely that Mr. Ashbrook finds women’s issues personally threatening. Maybe when these topics come up in the future he could recuse himself.

    • AuntyMD

      I listened to the whole program and have to say I have no idea what you’re talking about! I heard no belligerence, no browbreating of anyone, never mind different treatment of women. As a long-time On Point listener (and fan) I’ve heard Tom interrupt – sometimes when he’s pressed for time and trying to hone in on the point they’re making, sometimes out of exuberance or frustration with repetition, etc. – never as aggression or an attempt to intimidate a guest or caller.

      • puzzledsmh

        I am a long time listener and a woman. I also have found no belligerence in Tom’s interview. I have heard him with many female guest and have always found him to be very warm and engaging.

  • truegangsteroflove

    I forgot. Here’s a short explanation of the difference between Delhi and New Delhi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Delhi . For the lazy, New Delhi is the capital of India, part of the greater city of Delhi and one of the nine districts of the territory of Delhi. I’m certainly no expert, but I was surprised when I spent some time in India that NOBODY used the name New Delhi in the entire time I was there.

  • Outside_of_the_Box

    I’m sorry but for all of the progress India has made in a relatively short time, they still have a deep-rooted tribalistic herd mentality in many ways. Look at the reaction to these men. Chemical castration, death. What happened to India’s self-proclaimed vibrant liberal democracy? Are they protesting because world outrage has forced them to defend their religion/culture/society and demand immediate brutal justice to move the spotlight? Or because they genuinely want to reform attitudes towards women? I’ll bet you there are many in those protests, who turn around and mistreat their wives and daughters, women in general. For such a brutal public gang-rape, it is easy to join the protests. What about everyday attitudes/treatment toward girls and women?

  • http://twitter.com/ThebullJ ThebullJ

    I tried listening to this yesterday but I couldn’t stand the lame excuses various callers of Indian descent kept giving about the incidents of gang-raping that have been reported in the media…I’m always turned off when pple try to do the moral equivalency when it comes to racial issues…instead of pple just condemning the crime and asking how did this happen…they keep talking of these incidents happens everywhere in the world…it is not just in India….that is stupid…the gang-rapings are done by Indians…Indians need to tackle it head on…not make lame moral equivalent references.  Last time Malala was shot in Pakistan some Muslim guy or Pakistani called in and stated he thought the violence on girls in that region was because scarce resources that forces parents to emphasis on educating boys than girls…these are the kinds of excuse people hiding behind religion, race etc give when we have these incidents.  Not to mention the ridiculous explanations NRA has been giving us every time we have Mass shooting in this country. 

  • TJPhoto40

    Just a comment about the posting process here. The Disqus system asked for verification of my identity twice, and was pretty confusing as well as strange in confirming I am who I say I am. I haven’t experienced this problem in posting at other sites, for some reason.

  • TJPhoto40

    Both of the guests, especially Anand, articulate the issues very well, and I appreciate hearing more than just that this was a horrific crime.  There’s a context to it and a complexity to it that must be explored if such things are to be avoided in the future.  The perpetrators must be dealt with harshly, but it sounds like the whole society needs to change to make such crimes intolerable and the underlying sentiments about women more sensible or humane.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1586840974 Mary Mendoza

    From the Washington Post:  “Such is the premium on males in India that sex-selective abortions are
    common. Haryana has the lowest female-to-male ratio in the country, with just
    830 girls to every 1,000 boys 6 years old and under; the national ratio is 914
    to 1,000. Jobs are scarce, and the state is home to a small army of idle young
    men.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-rural-india-rapes-are-common-but-justice-for-victims-is-not/2013/01/08/c13546b4-58d6-11e2-88d0-c4cf65c3ad15_story_1.html   Until such attitudes change, this sort of thing will sadly.. be common..

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