In India, a five-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped, tortured and left for dead. This, on the heels of the brutal gang rape in India that happened back in December. And a story about a six-year-old Indian girl who was raped. And a story about 11- and 13-year-old sisters who were raped by their mother's boyfriend. All of these rapes happened within a week's span. Rape culture knows no borders. We all live in it. We all participate in it.
The Oscar Pistorius murder case in South Africa; rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; gang rapes in India; Pakistan acid attacks, and missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Each news item was served up by reporters and anchors as a separate, isolated story. In fact they are all different versions of the same story, told over and over again, night after night, from one country to the next. Why do we treat all these disparate threads around the world as unrelated events? According to UNIFEM, one in three women -- one billion members of our human population -- will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. It's time to wake up and connect the dots.
It's almost impossible to not have a day go by without hearing about an incident of sexual harassment, assault or rape occurring somewhere in the world. Then come the proactive hash tags, fan pages of support, and a myriad of online petitions. Armchair activism in full effect. And this is precisely what Cairo-based NGO worker Rebecca Chiao did NOT want to happen when she initiated a team of volunteers to fight the problem of sexual harassment on the streets of their city. When she was introduced to social mapping and heard that half of the many cellphone users in Egypt were women, she knew exactly what to do.
Contrary to other similar situations, the tragic Indian gang-rape victim was not "dishonoured" by her family or society. Instead, she was "honoured" both on private and public levels. Her painful death was not viewed by other Indian families as a terrifying warning to justify employing more control on young women.
India has a culture of entrenched misogyny, which has led to an endemic of violence against women, thereby exacerbating the omnipresent rape culture that already permeates most societies. Violence against women is not only something that is tolerated, but seems to be justified by the majority of Indian society, including teens. So while I am grateful that the gang rape incident has forced women and men out onto the streets in protest, I am pragmatic enough to know that until Indians undergo some sort of socio-cultural metamorphosis, our daughters won't be safe from our sons.