I feel like this issue is covered in shades of grey, but it belongs in a world of black and white…
In my newspaper class, we are required to bring in two to three current-event stories per class period. When the bus rape in Delhi was causing an uproar in the media, we discussed it in class. In case you didn’t hear about it, or have forgotten what happened, here are the cliff notes:
On Dec. 16 2012, a 23-year old woman and her male friend were walking in Delhi around 9:30 p.m. IST. An off-duty bus carrying five men and one juvenile male stopped and allowed them to board, the driver claiming the bus was headed in the same direction they were. When the driver closed the doors and deviated from the route, the friend became suspicious. He voiced concern and was attacked by the men on the bus, being beaten with an iron rod. He was bound and gagged and lost consciousness for a period of time. The remaining men and the 17-year-old boy took turns raping the woman, as well as assaulting her with a foreign object, presumably the same rod they beat her friend with. Although she fought literally tooth-and-nail against her assault, she suffered detrimental wounds to her genitals, uterus and intestines. Afterward, the perpetrators threw her body and that of her friend from the moving bus. They were found and taken for medical treatment.
The woman maintained consciousness intermittently through her remaining days of life. She had multiple surgeries to remove damaged intestines, but her prognosis remained poor. Eleven days after the assault, the victim suffered a cardiac event in flight to Singapore, where she was to receive further medical attention for her deteriorating condition and damaged organs. The medical staff performed the appropriate cares, attempting to stabilize her vital signs. However, she was pronounced to be brain damaged upon arrival at the facility. Considering her abdominal trauma–resulting in sepsis–and accompanying pneumonia, any hopes for recovery were further diminished. The woman was pronounced dead at 4:45 a.m. on Dec. 29.
Since then, one of the men responsible has died in prison, presumably a suicide. Four more have been sentenced to death. The minor was sentenced to three years in a correctional facility. Three. Freaking. Years.
What?! “We’re gonna go ahead and kill these guys, but since he’s just a kid, we though three years oughta cover it.” What?!
I’m not saying that this 17-year-old kid should necessarily be killed. I’m not even saying that you should compare the moral judgment of a teenager to that of the adults present, but when the crime is so heinous you feel justified in lynching the grown-ups, maybe we should consider more than a couple years in the slammer. This kid isn’t even going to be the oldest guy in his JuCo classes when he gets out! He took part in beating a man until he was incapacitated, then raping and beating a woman until she DIED as a result of her injuries. For the love of God, put that boy away for a minimum of ten years. If you really think he can be rehabilitated, great. But he has barely more than a thousand days to think about the severity of what he participated in.
In addition to this case, there have been countless cases of suicides as a result of “slut-shaming,” which has taken the internet by storm over the last few years. There seem to be two main versions of this. Number one: Girl meets Boy. Girl gets dangerously drunk around Boy. Boy assaults Girl (Some variations include all of Boy’s friends assaulting Girl). Boy or his friends post pictures of said assault all over the internet, proclaiming Girl to be a whore, and proudly letting everyone know they’ve tapped that. Number two: Girl voluntarily sends risqué photos to Boy and/or performs various sexual acts, in which photos are taken. Again, photos and debauchery abound are laid out for the world to see.
Now, I’ve taken a somewhat weird stance on this whole phenomenon. First of all, I’d just like to point out that if Girl makes the appropriate decisions, Girl will never end up drunk and passed out at Boy’s house, etc. I will concede that there are cases where this occurs through no fault of Girl, but in almost every case I hear about, there has been some opportunity for the female in question to say to herself, “Whoa, maybe this is a bad plan.” Theoretically, we could almost eradicate this trend entirely–not by writing heartfelt news pieces about the effects of bullying, or looking down our noses at slut-shaming, but by taking our daughters, our little sisters, our nieces, hell, even our students aside and saying, “Please make the right decisions. If you are unsure whether it is the right decision, ask me.”
That being said, the cases where a girl is entirely taken advantage of do exist. So why is it that we, in a day and age we tout to be so forward-thinking, still have cases where a guy old enough to enlist in the American Army if he so chose is only sentenced to three years for the rape and murder of a woman? Why have we raised a generation of young men who find it not only acceptable, but commendable, to have sex with a girl who is passed-out-in-a-puddle-of-puke WASTED? And THEN, they are so proud of this that they take photos. Why is it that the girl is then the slut, while we pat the guy on the back for having “gotten laid?” Excuse me, but brother, if your claim to bedroom fame is that you can get off while I’m semi-conscious, I just don’t think I’m impressed. Even our music has taken us to that point. I heard “Caribou Lou,” the first time and I said, “Uhh, if you need that much alcohol to get me to do that, don’t be so proud of it.”
I would like to have thought that the great movement of my generation was not women’s lib. I would like to think that fight’s been fought. That’s a war that we won back before women wore pants on a regular basis. We’re fighting for men to marry men, right?? Surely we don’t have to put down our rainbow flags to burn our bras, right??
Am I out of line, here? I am I wrong? Have we really made it to the place where my daughters can truly be anything? Or do we live in a world where boys get their uncles to cover up the downright RAPE they committed, so that the entire town will turn on the victim? Because I thought my phone took pictures in color, these days.
*To read more about the cases I have referenced in this entry, here are a few articles to get you started. I strongly encourage you to read more than one on each case you’re interested in.
Delhi Bus Rape: Telegraph, Guardian, HuffPost
Missouri Rape Cover-Up: Guardian, Fox News