In mid-November in India, an unnamed 17-year-old girl was gang-raped in the Patiala region in the Punjab. She had reportedly spent much of December begging and badgering the police to take the case seriously and investigate and eventually arrest her attackers. Sadly, those things never happened — or they were happening very, very slowly as the police worked to convince her to give up. Well, on Wednesday night she did. She swallowed poison, committing suicide.
Of course, that was a drastic enough action to finally make those in power take notice. On Thursday, three attackers were detained — two men and a female accomplice. One police officer has been fired and another has also been suspended over their actions in the case. According to the victim's sister, the police encouraged her to take hush money from the attackers or marry one of them.
Though this is an extreme case, it has brought the treatment of women in India to the attention of the Western world. According to Sky News, official figures in India state that 228,650 of the 256,329 violent crimes committed in India were perpetrated against women, though the number of unreported cases would certainly pump that figure up even higher.
Attitudes and laws are beginning to change there — the photo at the top of this post comes from protests over the actions of police. But for many women it's obviously too little and much too late. On Thursday, prime minister Manmohan Singh said that he would introduce new laws to cover attacks on women. In New Delhi, the names, photos and addresses of rapists will be posted online in order to shame them for their crimes. It's a start, and one that should make us ask ourselves if our country is really any better.
[UPDATE: Earlier in this post I had lumped two cases of gang-rape together. The victim who committed suicide was attacked during the festival of Diwali in mid-November. The opening sentence now reflects that. The woman who was attacked on a bus in New Delhi is currently hospitalized in Singapore.]