Flo Carson

Flo Carson - Social Anthropologist, studying International Development at Sciences Po, Paris. I am slightly obsessed by gender, politics, media, human rights and global health. I've worked in Asia, Africa and Europe and keen to explore more of the world we live in. Take a look at my Twitter & Tumblr for my most recent posts. tly

Sunday, 8 June 2014

No More Murders. No More Rapes. Justice for Dalit Women

Not only was the Delhi Gang Rape of December 2012 a horror, but I personally considered it a social catalyst. It represented the tipping point for India and the world and demanded those with any sense of political awareness to fight back against the ceaseless acts of violence against women in India.  Or so I thought.

 May 28th 2014 marked a dark day in India and beyond. Two cousins, Dalit (Untouchables) girls aged 14 and 15, who lived in the Badaun District of Uttar Pradesh were hung after being sexually attacked by seven men.  Here, strange fruits hanging, lives on and manifests itself in an unceasingly disturbing way.
 The Hindu says 'This is what has happened in Badaun in 21st century India. The consumption of the living bodies of two young ‘low-caste’ girls (in the act of gang rape) was completed by the consumption of their de-humanised, dead, subjugated, ‘low-caste’ bodies as public and media spectacle. The media came to town, as did a cavalier array of politicians. They all came, participated in a codified spectacle, looked up at the shamed tree, and left saying nothing'.  As Freedom Without Fear says this is 'the latest in a long line of horrific murders and sexual assaults perpetrated on young Dalit and oppressed caste women'.  The two cousins were going to the fields to defecate when they went missing. This is not a problem only experienced by Dalit women, in actuality half-a-billion Indians (48% of the population) lack access to basic sanitation and defecate in the open. In addition, police actually refused to investigate the family's report when the girls first went missing, this was followed by murder threats. Accordingly, the rape and death of these girls confirms and crystallises three major socio-political realities that dictate everyday life in India; rife misogyny and frequent of gender based violence,  caste prejudice, and a failed and nearly hopeless national infrastructure.

The English Collective of Prostitutes informed me that Freedom Without Fear had arranged a demonstration where they intended to demand justice outside the Indian Embassy in London on Wednesday 4th June. I felt obliged to attend. I rushed, hurriedly from work at 6pm to the Strand; hearing yuppies swapping mentions of 'Modi' and 'Embassy' pushed me onwards at a faster speed. I reached the protest almost two hours in and was pleasantly surprised to see a vast range of people yelling 'Indian Government! Indian Government! We need justice! We need justice!'.

The Badaun incident  reveals a disgusting abuse of human rights and a complete destruction of unspoken cross cultural, moral values. In fact, when I spent time in India this year, each morning my Times Of India detailed at least two cases of sexual assault, molestation and the consequential humiliation and retribution felt by women and their family members as a result. This, undoubtedly was an enormously unnerving way to start each day. However, we must remember the incidents that go unmentioned on a daily basis on a global scale. Whilst the atrocities that are occurring in India should not be ignored, they are outrageous and deserve our attention, we should not deem the country unique in its frequency of gender violence.  I do intend to keep an (apprehensive, and worried ) eye as Modi, India's new president, takes the reins over the nation.

I was comforted at the embassy by seeing men shout these chants until their voices broke; passion erupting out of their mouths, their thick Indian accents coating each word. Alongside these men were four hundred individuals and groups from a diverse backgrounds, such as Global Women's Strike,  Southall Black Sisters, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, and Women Against Rape. Banners, signs, placards held up by people of all ages, genders and ethnicities struck a chord with me and rejuvenated my sense of hope. People care. But will this really lead to change in India and beyond?

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