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Being A Woman In India Is Not Easy, But Neither Is It In The US, UK, Or France

By Basile Roze:

When Salma Rehman arrived in Paris last year, it was her first visit to France. The 24-year-old Indian journalism student was eager to discover the Pays des Droits de l’Homme, as it is called, and was joining one of Paris’ schools of journalism for a semester. In this school, Sciences Po, she met with several people including a 22-year old aspiring journalist, born and raised in Paris. Only a few minutes after they met, he was already asking the same question many others would ask her for the next 6 months: “Salma, how is it to be a woman in India? Isn’t it too difficult?”

protest rape

This young Paris-born aspiring journalist was me. I was this white male asking a girl coming from the far and mysterious Orient if it was not too horrendous being a woman in her home country, while being slightly patronizing and slyly neo-colonialist about it.

When I met with Salma, rape was the first issue that came to my mind. I had seen many reports and read some articles about the ‘Rape Culture’ in India, and the 2012 bus gang rape that took place in New Delhi – a horrible event that had been heavily covered by world media, and had particularly marked me.

When I bluntly asked this question to Salma, she did not get upset; although she could have been slightly embarrassed by the arrogant westerner in front of her, she was patient and soft. She answered very simply; she was very passionate about this issue. “Indeed, being a woman in India is difficult, not only because of rape, but also because of the deeply paternalistic structure of society”, she explained.

What I vaguely sensed at the time was that there is, indeed, a rape issue in India. Every day throughout the country, 93 women are being raped, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2013 data.

What I did not imagine, however, or rather what I refused to imagine, is that 203 women are raped every day in England and Wales, as a report entitled “An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales,” released in 2013 by the Ministry of Justice, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office, has shown.

What I could not think of, at the time, is that it only takes 107 seconds for another person to be sexually assaulted in the United States, according to the top U.S. anti-sexual violence organization, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

In an unprecedented study conducted last year by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), called “Violence against women: an EU-wide survey,” I discovered that out of the 42,000 women that had been interviewed throughout the European Union, one in three had reported some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15.

Denmark ranked the highest, with more than 50% women reporting abuse since the age of 15, and France was ranking extremely high, at the 5th position, as 44% of French women denounced abuses. We are not simply talking about rape here, but about the little things that make a woman’s life very different from a man’s one: insisting whistling in the streets, repeatedly wandering hands at a party, an ex-partner who did not understand is not allowed to follow you everywhere, a partner who refuses to understand that no means no.

Forty-four per cent. I realized I would need to ask the same question I asked Salma, to my mother, to my girlfriend, to my girl friends. I did so, and the least I can say is that it needed to be done. There are questions that need to be asked. There are taboos we need to face.

I have no doubts that today it is very difficult to be a woman in India, especially because I spent the months that followed my encounter with Salma, passionately discussing the issue with her. But I doubt being a woman in France, in the UK, or in the United States is any easier. It is time for us to address this.

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  1. Jigsaw

    India is world’s capital of false rape cases. Teach your daughters not to lie about rape.

    False rape cases soar in Delhi as number of acquittals hits 78 per cent

    Shove it up your matriarchy.

    1. Frances

      And you’re quoting the Daily Mail, that bastion of reputable journalism and hard facts.

    2. Jigsaw

      75% of rape cases are false. 98% of dowry cases are fake. Google it.

      When a woman is raped, the media goes berserk, there is an uproar from feminists, documentary after documentary, but when an innocent man is lynched publicly in a false case of rape in Nagaland no one talks about it, and the culprit walks free because she is a woman.

      Shame on your double standards.

  2. Kudrat dutta chaudhary

    What a beautifully drafted reasonable article that potrays the reality of the world and shifts India’s pseudo rape image to a better one. It is sad how rapes are glorified and shown to the western world happening in India whereas we only get to see the Big Ben and Eiffel tower when referring to France or UK, or any other developed nation. The problem of rape is universal, a woman can be unsafe any and every where because anti social elements are everywhere.
    Only if the world understood this or the point behind such a well written article, this pandemic would’ve been cured ages ago.

  3. ItsJustMe

    Oh, I will pay people to write such articles. Word of truth. Doesn’t mean India is all progressive or anything, but it is definitely not the rape culture country as projected by our own media and many international ones.
    Thank you so much Basile Roze. I am not a writer for YKA, but I have been quoting these statistics all across this website in the comment section. Alas nobody wants to know the reality of rape around the world. They are just happy making India its capital

  4. Monistaf

    Apart from the rape stats that do not add up, there are many laws in India that strip men and boys of their basic human rights. I am sure your journalist friend did not bother to tell you that side of the story probably because she did not know but more likely because she does not care. Read up on section 498A of the Indian Penal code that allows the police to arrest any and all family members if a wife complains that she is being harassed. This is a non-bailable (You have to get in front of a judge to get bail which often takes up to 30 days during which you rot in prison) and a non-compoundable (The complaint cannot be withdrawn) offence. Men and their families (Which could include their mothers, sisters, and other relatives) will be arrested and thrown in jail with no evidence or probable cause based purely on the statement of one woman. They are striped of their basic human rights of due process. Then, there are sections 375 and 376 which define rape only in terms of a male perpetrator and female victim. This means, that a man or a boy cannot be legally raped in India because they cannot be victims. It also means that women can never be charged with sexual assault because the perpetrator has to be male. The domestic violence act of 2005 only recognizes women as victims. A man is not permitted to file a case under the domestic violence act simply because of his gender. Domestic violence is not just physical violence, but in this day of fighting for equal rights also requires men to pay the rent, give their wives money as well as not deprive them of food. If you think this sounds ludicrous, I do not blame you. You are welcome to check it out yourself. Starting page 60, is the Domestic Incident report that women can file.. ( Most feminists in India are vehemently opposed to any changes in these laws, but of course, they are fighting for “Gender equality” by focussing only on issues of one gender. All of these laws are grossly abused by women, especially in urban areas because they can act with impunity. There is no punishment for false accusations, so they have absolutely nothing to lose, and by the extremely low conviction rates you can tell that Indian women are no angels.

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