Of late it has become a trend to characterize Indians as being a culture of violence and misogyny (sexual harassment, sexual abuse, molestation, domestic violence on women, prostitution, and rape). This is not unique to India, but is everywhere. But foreign media is always quick to make headlines on every incident that can discredit India, as this is the way the West retains its illusion of moral superiority, which is vital for asserting the role of global leader, be denigrating other nations, and thereby keeping them on a leash and obedient to their masters.
For example, it allows the West to easily rally the world in favor of war mongering. And for anyone who dares challenge them, they will slam that country and put them down (like who are you to question me?) with a portfolio of human rights violations — regardless of the fact that the West may have just as much if not far worse record of social issues: rapists (the USA is 15x higher than of India), psychopaths, serial killers, child pornography, school shootings, gun violence, highest prison population (the USA is #1 in global prison population by a huge margin), hate crimes, racism, religious intolerance, war mongering (the USA leads the world as the most belligerent country for resolving problems),…
Indians should do whatever it takes to address their rape crisis, but nations with far worse record should first look in their own backyard first before slamming others. Else it will render India powerless on the world stage, and those with far worse records will retain power. Such self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and imbalance in power can set a dangerous precedence for India as well as the world at large.
I will also add that since most nations are in denial… we should welcome criticism by other nations, at least let each put each other to shame, so that they receive more attention. But this is a double-edged sword, and both edges must be exercised. We need to return the favor as well. After all, we as human civilization as a whole are still trying to figure out things, still evolving as a whole.
This article will focus in particular on violence against women: rape, as at least it has some statistics (as skewed as it maybe) in both countries. Again, this is not to show that one country is doing better than the other, but to show media bias.
Rape Capital of the World
[updated January 02, 2013]
Shortly after the Dec 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape incident that fueled a nation-wide protest where millions of men and women across India took to the streets demanding more safety for women and harsher sentencing for rapists, the leading news media all across the world were quick to crank out editorials depicting Indian culture as a culture of misogyny and violence against women as being endemic. And this was shown on the print and TV set of almost every country. The Wall Street Journal was quick to publish a “rape map of India”. Wonder what it will take for them to publish a rape map of the USA on global news? Especially considering the fact that the USA ranks among the top 10 and India among the lowest.
“In India, a country of over 1.2 billion people, 24,206 rapes were reported in 2011. The same year in the United States, a nation of 300 million, 83,425 rapes were reported”
“Even if sexual assault in India is dramatically under-reported, which most likely it is, the statistical difference is still striking—as is our uniquely American inclination to dismiss such monstrous human rights violations as problems that other countries face.”
– Full article at More.com
I won’t reproduce the rape map of India here, but here’s the rape map of the world:
Here are some statistics about the USA (Sources: Bureau of Statistics – US Department of Justice, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, FBI, and Wikipedia). Bear in mind in that these are the reported rapes, and 1) India does not have the level record keeping as the USA, 2) a large number of rapes go unreported in India 3) a large number of rapes go unreported in the USA also. Nevertheless the numbers are staggering enough by themselves (in each country) to be just ignored (by both countries).
Rape statistics of the USA
- A rape occurs every 1-2 minutes in the USA. A rape occurs every 20 minutes in India.
- 1 in 4 women in the USA are victims of rape or attempted rape, according to the National Violence Against Women survey. Of this, 21.6% of the women surveyed were victim of rape before age 12, and 32.4% percent between ages 12-17. That is, more than half were under 18.
- The USA has almost 15 times more reported rapes than India.
- That is taking into account that the population of the USA is 4x less than India (reported rapes per 100,000 population is 29 for USA, and 1.8 for India (Wikipedia world rape statistics table, 2009)).
- And that’s not even taking account that the USA has one of the world’s toughest law enforcement, while India has one of the least.
- Also not even taking into account the USA ranks #1 in global prison population (to put both countries on equal footing, one could only imagine by how much rape crimes would go up if all those prisoners were let lose, and says a lot of the culture (just locking them up only hides the problem)).
- Also not taking into account that in the USA you are often in the safety and security of your car when you travel (almost every American has a car; not the case in India). In fact, it always struck me when American women requested me (on more than a few different occasions) to accompany them to their car when leaving work after sunset, even in corporate neighborhoods that I thought were very safe. In fact, that reminds me of the days when American women considered Indian men to be among the safest to be with (in terms of risk of sexual assault). I wonder what the polls would indicate today (despite the fact that even today Indians in the USA rank among the lowest in crime, with rape crime among them being almost zero).
- Even if rape is grossly under-reported in India, that’s still such a huge number to ignore and point to India. One might imagine what would be the case if global media made such a sensation out of every rape case in the USA, and put a rape map of the USA on their front page (like the Wall Street Journal did to India during “India’s rape crisis”). And who says rape is not under-reported in the USA also? See next point.
- It is estimated 94% of the assaults on woman go unreported in the USA. Violence against women in the USA has become so common that many victims don’t report it and many don’t even see it as a “crime” that they should report: high-school rape, college rape, domestic rape, date rape, drug-related rape, sexual abuse by parents, sexual abuse by priests, etc.
- In the USA less than 25% of the rapists are caught.
- Less than 3% are convicted or imprisoned.
- 98% of the rapists are someone known to the victim.
- Everyday 4 women die in the USA due to domestic violence. Many spouses and girlfriends go through cycles of frequent and brutal domestic violence.
- As per Human Rights Watch, there are 106 countries that have ratified the Women’s Right Treaty — aka CEDAW (Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). Seven have abstained: Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, and guess who’s the seventh? the USA. Probably because rape, domestic violence, etc is so endemic in the USA, that it is not ready to be put under the monitoring of Human Rights Watch (allowing the USA to able to continue its foreign policies under the umbrella of “moral superiority” and make everyone think their culture is the greatest).
- Another sad blow is that the US Government voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act (opposed primarily by Republicans) as of the closing of 2012.
- Lastly, for people who advocate vigilante justice to kill suspected rapists, to bear mind: 2-8% of reported rapes are false allegations.
Given the staggering statistics above, the question is, how much more violence against women does it take for the American people to take to the streets like we witnessed in India? The demonstrations in India, show if anything, that the rising middle-class Indians are far less tolerant than their American counterparts. They’re not going to wait for it to reach the level of statistics in the USA.
The USA, the “most civilized” country, has the highest prison population in the world, the highest number of serial killers, the highest number of school shootings, the highest number of gun-crimes, etc.
For example, there have been 27 school shootings in the last two years alone (2010-2012). Even after the recent incident of the shooting deaths of 20 small school children (ages 6-7, some shot multiple times at close range, Sandy Hook Elementary School). So, can we generalize here and say that the USA is a culture of full of violence and psychopaths, and that it is so “normal” in the USA that people are indifferent to it — i.e. not taken to the streets protesting, like when the world witnessed the whole nation of India was immobilized protesting the Dec 16, 2012 Delhi rape incidence as the last straw. The question again is, how much more school shootings or rapes in the USA does it take for millions of American people to take to the streets like we witnessed in India?
The violence in the USA (including rape statistics discussed above) is very likely to be even more staggering (than it already is) if one were to put few more things in further perspective. Like factoring-in the following:
- the fact that law-enforcement is relatively (compared to the level in the USA) non-existent in India. What would happen if law-enforcement was non-existent in the USA, i.e. can its culture sustain civil society by itself (in fact every post-apocalyptic theme movie shows a society gone out of control in the USA; why movie… even when New York plunged into a power black-out there was violence and looting everywhere)?
- the fact that the USA ranks #1 in prison population, and India among the lowest in the world. What would happen if the USA were to let all their prisoners loose. That is, to put both countries on equal footing?
- that that society in India is highly heterogeneous (in the USA they are largely implicitly segregated into for example, low-income lower-middle class inner-city vs high-income upper-middle class outer city). What would happen if they were living heterogeneously like in India? can they all live together intermixed in the same neighborhood as people who are 10x richer (and not getting frustrated and shooting him)? can they all live together intermixed with the “rich and famous” and not take their lifestyles as an excuse to stalk/molest/rape? and vice versa, can the ultra rich live among the poorest without having 24x security? India is a culture where people are very content with they have or make, and realize that you have to earn what you want. More importantly, they value society than material needs, so there is never an envy for material wealth.
- that India has 1.2 billion extremely diverse people in an area 1/3 of the USA. Even at the current level of diversity in the USA, there are many incidences of violence in the USA where people go shoot someone for just looking different. In contrast in India, every other person you meet is likely to have different custom, language, faith, etc — and proudly wear that difference in their attire, accent, etc — instead of feeling pressured into conforming to one “acceptable” mono-culture.
Given the above perspective, it’s a miracle that crime is not more rampant in India, even with the blinding pace of market-driven entertainment and consumer-culture (the blind-rush can cause sudden displacement of ones cultural scaffolding, enough to lose ones bearings).
Treatment of Women in India – The Positives
There is much work to be done in curbing the many violence against women in India. That should not prevent Indians from highlighting where they do stand out, just as Western nations display their progress despite having their glaring gaps (some far worse than India, as listed above). If not, and Indians just listen to just what the Western-owned media feeds them, they will see their entire culture as being degenerate, and will blindly rush to embrace the foreign culture (which brings with it its own share of problems, that Indians don’t have mechanisms in place to handle).
Here are some of India’s advancements in regard to treatment of women (compared with the USA as reference), as of 2008:
- About 11% of the Parliament members are women within less than 55 years after Independence (it was 1% right at the time of Independence). Much room for improvement, but not bad, compared with 17% women members in USA even after over 200 years of Independence.
- India has had two woman Prime Ministers. The first woman Prime Minister back in 1980, and re-elected 3 times, and has had a woman President. The USA still, in its 200+ years, has not elected a woman President (nor seems to be ready for one).
- American women got their right to vote in 1920 — that is 144 years after their Independence. In India women demanded (when still under British Rule) the right to vote and the right to hold legislative office back in 1917. It was ratified immediately upon India’s Independence in 1947.
- India had her first stateswomen back in 200 AD: Avvaiyār and her works of state governance is another perennial wisdom that is still relevant and quoted today.
- India has had a number of Hindu women sages and scholars. In Christian culture, while men claiming spiritual experiences were given the benefit of the doubt, women were branded as heretics or witches, subject to torture – exorcism, burnt alive, impaled, crucified. In powerful contrast, in India, women – whether she be a “courtesan/prostitute” (like Manimékhalai, 171 CE) or a “half-naked poet” (like Kāraikal Ammaiyār, 6 CE) have been recognized for their enlightenment and earned the status of great saints (in Christianity women are elevated to sainthood only posthumously and only if they have magnitudes more merit than their male counterparts).
- Female Hindu priests are making a comeback, particularly in the state of Kerala, and the trend is catching on in the Tamil Nadu and Mumbai as well (see Female Hindu Priests). The fact that they can do it, and at its growth rate, it will exceed the number of women priests in the Church and Mosques. Christianity and Islam has had a very long and barbaric record of denying equal status to women.
- While it is not true that education automatically makes you liberated, it does open up the possibility of pursuing an independent career. The number of Hindu working woman with advanced degrees/skills – women engineers, scientists, businesswomen, politicians, etc. far exceeds that of any Christian or Muslim country. American women tend to not pursue advanced degrees because the conditioning in their society has not been conducive to such aspirations. Some are given only false/limited sense of being “liberated” – as they are confined to only a few choices like: marketing, administrative, secretarial, modeling, acting, nurse. Personal note: when I did my undergraduate (engineering) in India about 50% of the class were women, but in the USA I observed women were a minority (less than 5%) in most of the advanced sciences and engineering. I found that most of the women in the USA were in arts or soft sciences (like humanities, media, fashion design, sociology).
- While some like to point out that Goddess worship is very prevalent in India… I won’t. As it really has very little to do with the liberation of women. There is no real correlation between a woman worshiping a Goddess, being “liberated” or empowered as a result of that. I could understand it if Goddess worship was more genuine like in some of the non-patriarchal cultures (not much of which is left today), like those of the Odiyathis and Aghorinis in the State of Kerala, some Native Americans tribes, the Aborigines of Australia, most of the pagan and wiccan cultures, etc — where goddess worship did reflect empowerment and the liberated spirit of the women in those cultures. But at least Hindu culture allows for Goddess worship and hence is at least open to gender equality. Goddess worship is blasphemous in Christianity and Islam, with a history of persecuting those who subscribe to such thoughts as heretics. Also gender inequality in India was not enforced from any religious texts like in Christianity/Islam, but a symptom of society.
- Lastly, if Hindus were to use the same yard stick, for every reference to misogyny in Hindu spiritual texts (often dug up from obscure texts that are not even in use — and not withstanding the fact that Hinduism does not have any authoritative texts; as it is not a doctrinal religion), one can find copious references to misogyny (without even trying hard to find it) from primary Biblical or Islamic texts, that not only oppresses or subjugates women, but are in fact barbaric (such as legitimizing the beating, killing, and rape of women).
Give Your Support
Violence against women is everywhere, and in many countries exceeding that of India. But the mainstream media will not tell you that. They will be quick to make headlines on every incident that can discredit India and make the other culture seem morally more superior. However, one thing to agree upon is that in India, while crime against women is statistically less than the USA (to scale, as mentioned above), it is much more overt, as with law-enforcement almost non-existent, misogynists are more emboldened knowing that they can get away with it.
If you like this article (and even if not), before sharing it, please take timeout to give your support to organizations that are fighting violence against women in any way (ranging from empowering women with education and opportunities, to helping victims). As there is a risk of reading this article and getting a cozy feel that everything is fine because “we are not the rape capital”. Violence against women in India is very high, too high to be just ignored. So before forwarding this article, please take just a few minutes to give your support to organizations in this area (two of the organizations I support are Amma.org and IshaFoundation).
I will close by sharing these two videos.