Violence Against Women Continue in India

IMG_2439 IMG_2405Despite the August 2013 death sentences of the four adult men who raped and killed a young female student on a bus in December 2012 (sentences that have not yet been carried out, by the way) there has been another shocking attack recently in New Delhi this week.

The solution to this scourge appears to be elusive since now pundits are saying it is a cultural phenomena of men exerting influence over women. Influence? I say violence and violence should be met with swift and clear punishment or it will inevitably be met with reciprocal violence. Maybe women should be armed? Maybe vigillantism should be encouraged so at least there IS justice. Enough is enough.

Here is the latest:

NEW DELHI (AP) — A 51-year-old Danish tourist was gang-raped near a popular shopping area in New Delhi after she got lost and approached a group of men for directions back to her hotel, police said Wednesday. Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said two people were arrested after a daylong search for the suspects. Details were not immediately available.


The attack is the latest crime to focus attention on the scourge of sexual violence in India.


The woman also was robbed and beaten in the attack, which happened Tuesday near Connaught Place, Bhagat said. The woman asked the men for directions to her hotel, Bhagat said. They lured her to a secluded area where they raped her at knife-point, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. The woman managed to reach her hotel Tuesday evening and the owner called police. Police were questioning several other suspects.

The problem of sexual violence in India has gained widespread attention since the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in December 2012. Public fury over the case has led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism and stalking.


But for many women, particularly the poor, daily indignities and abuse continue unabated and the new laws have not made the streets any safer. Ranjana Kumari, director of India's Center for Social Research, said India's conservative, patriarchal traditions lead men to use rape as a tool to instill fear in women. "This mindset is not changing," she said. "It's a huge challenge."


Experts say the rapid growth of India's cities and the yawning gulf between rich and poor are exacerbating the problem of sexual violence, with young men struggling to prove their traditional dominance in a changing world.


Cultural stigmas, police apathy and judicial incompetence have long made it difficult for women to even report rapes.


Still, there has been a surge in the number of rapes being reported recently, suggesting women are emboldened to speak up. Between January and October last year, 1,330 rapes were reported in Delhi and its suburbs, compared with 706 for all of 2012, according to government figures.


Foreigners also have been targets, including a Swiss woman who was cycling with her husband in central India when she was gang-raped.


The cases threaten India's lucrative tourism industry. Last year, the Tourism Ministry launched an "I Respect Women" campaign to reassure travelers. Tourism accounted for 6.6 percent of India's GDP in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available.




Associated Press writers Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

Ten Travel Safety Tips

Woman travelerHere is a list of ten suggested travel safety tips that could even work for you closer to home. They have helped me tremendously over the years.

Disclaimer --- These are not guaranteed and you will need to assess the situation for yourself before undertaking. Some are just good advice in general.

1. Know / Be Aware of Your Surroundings. Attackers and thieves look for easy targets. Those who are not paying attention or who seem unaware of those around them. In this way criminals can work on the element of surprise, do their crime in a flash with less fear of being caught. So see who is around you. See if you are being watched or followed. Keep your eyes open and attention sharp.

2. Avoid getting into a very crowded group or, if a group crowds around you, be suspicious and protect your valuables. I can't tell you how many times I have been on a bus, when a group of young men suddenly crowd around me. The rest of the bus was empty but I was surrounded. They were trying to pick my pocket! If this happens, do the following....

3. Make a noise! If you are being attacked or pushed, prodded or otherwise molested, yell out and don't be shy! "Police!" is a universal term. Thieves want it quiet. So make a racket.

4. If you must carry your valuables do it in a money belt. Do not carry anything valuable in a handbag or other carrying bag. There are some good ones that simply slip onto your belt loop so they are easy to whip out to get extra cash etc.

5. I try to carry pepper spray but when I can't (like traveling by plane) I carry bug spray or hairspray aerosol to use instead. Fighting back is something you have to ascertain for yourself. You might find that spraying something into the attackers' eyes can stun them temporaily and give you a chance to run away.

6. I also carry an easy-to-reach sharpened pencil. Little hands trying to reach into your pocket can get a pencil point in them. Ouch.

7. Obviously, don't walk down dark alleys alone, if you can help it. In India, even women who are walking with a man can be attacked. The criminals who roam in packs attack the man and disable them and then attack the woman. Know where you are going.

8. In a bar or restaurant, don't leave your drink unattended. If you have to use the bathroom either take your drink with you or order a fresh one (and watch them make it) when you return.

9. When checking into a hotel, don't let the clerk announce your room number so others can hear. Have them write it on a piece of paper and hand it to you. Others could be lurking and could then know where you are staying.

10. When staying in a hotel room, check all windows to see if they lock and be sure that the door locks and if there are any other doors (like to join adjacent rooms) to be sure that they lock. Also check closets and under the bed. Should anything feel amiss, ask for a new room and do the same check all over again. Also try to stay on middle to upper floors and not have a room next to another roof. You get the idea...


New Electronic Underwear that Protects Women from Sexual Assault

This just in from CBS news. Let's hope that it works.


Engineering students in India have created electronic underwear they claim can protect the wearer from sexual assault.

Two of the inventors Manisha Mohan (left) and Rimpi Tripathy.

The lingerie would deliver electric shock waves of 3,800,000 volts to an attacker and features GPS. The garment can also send emergency text messages to the police. The unusual prototype was created by three Indian students at SRM University in Chennai, who wanted to combat ongoing violence against women.

Play Video

India's women revolt against a culture of rape

The protective underwear, named Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), purportedly delivers up to 82 electric shocks to a would-be offender when pressure sensors on the item detect unwanted force, according to The Times of India.

"A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated, and the GPS and GSM modules would send an SMS (to the Indian emergency number) as well as to parents of the girl," said one inventor, Manisha Mohan.

Mohan and her two colleagues, Rimpi Tripathi and Neeladri Basu Pal, hope to begin commercial production of the device later this month. The issue of sexual assault in India has remained on the public radar since the December gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus in Delhi. The victim died thirteen days after the attack. The attack sparked mass anger and demonstrations across India.

There have also been two sexual assault-related cases reported by female tourists. In the last three months, the number of foreigners traveling to India has dropped by 25 percent, according to a recent study by the New Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The number of female tourists has dropped by 35 percent, the study claimed.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

News Links For on India Gang Rape Trial

Here is the latest news edition from journalist Diego Gambetta who is on the front lines of coverage of the Braveheart gang-rape trial now going on in New Delhi. Diego is currently writing a book on how women can protect themselves from attack. Contact Diego directly for more information.


Nirbhaya case: Accused's sister dies; chargesheet in robbery case soon
Hyderabad pays a visual tribute to Nirbhaya

Poorna Jagannathan’s tribute to Nirbhaya: The Jyoti Project

What is Wrong With Ford? What is Wrong With Ford India??

Ford indiaTalk about obscene - A Ford commercial in India shows three bound and gagged women in the trunk of a Ford car as the male driver gives a thumbs up sign.

It is inconcievable to me that in a country that has had demonstrations about Braveheart - the 23 year old woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang-raped by 6 men and has reports of women's abuse every single day in the newspaper - would think that an ad like this is acceptable. And it is also infuriating. Considering Fords terrible history of anti-semitism with Henry Ford, you would think that they would be especially sensitive. But no.

 Maybe it is time to boycott Ford.

British tourist jumps from hotel window to escape sexual assault

More disheartening news about how women are treated in India - in this case tourists.

AGRA: A British female tourist on Tuesday was admitted in a hospital in Agra in a serious condition after jumping out of her hotel window to escape a sexual assault, police said. Jessica, 25, told police that she was staying in the first floor of a hotel in Agra's cantonment area when "some person" tried to molest her. The tourist, according to reports, has suffered fractured legs and bruises. The accused as been identified as the hotel manager Sachin Chauhan, who has been arrested by the police. This is the second case of sexual assault on foreign nationals in the country in past week.

Earlier on March 15 Swiss couple, camping near Jhadia village in Madhya Pradesh, was looted by seven men allegedly looted and later raped the woman. (With inputs from the Agencies)


Using Technology to Protect Women From Rape

IMG_2405We have been reporting on the reported rape epidemic in India in our most recent posts. Finally here is a good piece of news on the subject. Here is an excerpt of a much longer article:

Can a Wrist Watch Really Cure India’s Rape Problem?

by Feb 24, 2013 5:45 AM EST

The Indian government is developing a wrist watch equipped with GPS and a distress button. Can it help fight the plague of sexual violence?

In late January, the Indian government announced a new project to fight the rampant sexual assault cases in the country: a wrist watch. No longer just a fashion statement or functional timepiece, the accessory boasts a built-in distress button that texts friends, family and the nearest police station with the wearer’s GPS coordinates, and a video camera that captures footage when the button is hit.

India’s information technology minister, Kapil Sibal, announced the new development project a month after the brutal rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi launched nationwide protests calling for change in the dysfunctional methods of addressing sexual violence. The briefing notes describe the project’s goal as “to develop indigenous product leveraging existing mobile spread and availability to cater to the security needs of people.” (Neither Sibal nor the government agency tasked with developing the watch responded to requests for a comment.) The watch is one of many tech-based solutions being crafted to combat rape and sexual assault by governments and tech developers across the globe. But not all activists are convinced this approach will work, and some are questioning how effective technology can be in stopping horrendous sexual assault cases like the one that shook Delhi.

Social media and smart phone software is growing into its potential to bring attention to, and even prevent, sexual assault and rape. Facebook and Twitter have been used to track sexual attacks in war zones like Syria, and to encourage prosecution in cases like Steubenville, Ohio. Hi-tech straws can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks. But it is the mobile platform that shows the most potential for combating an endemic of sexual violence across the globe.

Gail Abarbanel, founder and president of The Rape Foundation, one of the country’s oldest rape prevention and treatment centers, described the Indian project as “more like a ‘rape in progress’ alert than it is about prevention,” and says she hopes the government will turn its attention on men. “In so many of these situations, rapes could be prevented but not by the women who’s being sexually assaulted,” she said.  “Everything that’s ever been promoted to prevent rape focuses on the victim.”

Yet Abarbanel doesn’t reject the possibility of utilizing technology to combat assault. The Rape Foundation recently partnered with tech firm Possible to develop Safebook, an app they hope to release by the end of the year. Safebook aims to shift the burden to the friend, the bystander, the person that witnesses assault by creating groups and allowing them to check in on members. Its target demographic is college women, 1 in 5 of whom report being sexually assaulted during their four years on campus. Realizing this susceptible group is spending most of its time in the digital world, the partners hope to use social media campaigns to target them where they’re most comfortable—similar to campaigns that have already been successful for gay rights awareness and bullying.

As activists work on changing mindsets, the Indian government is going technical. The watch is expected to be ready mid-year and is expected to cost between $20 and $50, which is quite steep for a market like India. And in India, not all have been swept off their feet by the announcement. Many believe the country needs to rebuild its foundation of prevention methods. The biggest problem may be the apathy authorities, and even civilians, hold toward sex crimes. One of the most disturbing details to emerge in the aftermath of the brutal Delhi rape came from the woman’s companion, who said the battered pair spent 20 minutes on the side of a busy road before anyone stopped. In Delhi, a new study published by the International Center for Research on Women revealed the startling prevalence of attacks. Almost 80 percent of participants admitted to seeing a sexual assault take place, and only 16 percent said they had intervened. Crimes are rarely reported, especially in the case of young victims. In early February, the director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia announced that children who come forward after sexual abuse “are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff and other authorities.” And just this week it was revealed that Indian police failed to investigate the rapes and murders of three young sisters.

Read the full article here.

A New Outrage

Yet another heinous attack on girls and women in India. When will the criminals be caught and punished? Why is the police so ineffective?

This was reported in DNAIndia.com:

Three sisters aged six, nine and 11 were raped, murdered and their bodies dumped in a well by an attacker in India who lured them with food, police said on Wednesday.

The girls, whose mother is a poor, widowed domestic servant, were last seen outside a cheap roadside cafe selling rice and lentil, and may have decided to follow their killer, or killers, because they were hungry.

The case has provoked fresh outrage in India, where there has been a sharp increase in the reporting of sexual violence since the gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student on a moving bus in December.

Villagers in Maharashtra protested that police had failed to act after the girls' grandfather reported them missing last week. When officers found the three girls' bodies on Saturday, with their school bags and shoes in a well near Murmadi, two miles from their home in Lakhni village, they initially recorded their deaths as accidental.

A post-mortem examination confirmed that the girls had been sexually assaulted. The cause of death has not yet been established. There were no signs of external injuries, policesaid.

The state's chief minister Prithviraj Chavan promised pounds 10,000 in compensation and an Indian cabinet minister said he was "pained" by the murders.

"We have rounded up a few people for questions and investigations are on," said Superintendent Aarti Singh, a woman officer.

"We have a few leads and we are working on them. There was delay because the mother was in a state of shock, she didn't speak at all. We are trying to join the dots from her statement," Singh said.

She said that one police officer had been suspended and was under investigation for dereliction of duty, but that the focus was on finding the attackers.

Praful Patel, a local MP and industry minister, said that the culprits should be "hanged for this".

"The survivors should be given speedy justice," he said.

Child rights campaigners said that the rape and killing of the three sisters highlighted India's urgent need for a credible child protection system.

"It is often children, particularly girls with single mothers, who are exploited, abused and made to suffer in the deeply patriarchal set-up in India," said Thomas Chandy, the chief executive of Save the Children India.

"The lack of a strong child protection mechanism exacerbates the problem."

If You Knew Me You Would Care - Women's Rights

If you are in NYC, please consider attending this book event:

Women's rights activist and Women for Women International founder Zainab Salbi and photographer Rennio Maifredi will lead a slideshow presentation highlighting their experiences traveling together to Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to seek out women who overcame adversity after being subject to the worst trials individuals must ever face.

If You Knew Me You Would Care represents a journey taken to collect the first-person accounts of women who have survived wars, violence, and poverty. The stories go beyond tears and victimhood and reveal joy, love, and forgiveness. Alongside the compelling interviews conducted by Salbi and the photographs taken by Maifredi are forewords by Meryl Streep, Annie Lennox, Ashely Judd, and Geena Davis and a review by Angelina Jolie.

Please click here for more information about the book.

All women featured in the book have been served by Women for Women International. WfWI delivers a tiered, year-long program that begins with identifying those communities that are most socially marginalized and works with women to reach their full potential. Book proceeds will go to Women for Women International. For more information please visit Women for Women International's website: http://www.womenforwomen.org

Zainab Salbi is a women's rights activist, humanitarian, and writer. Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International, an organization providing women survivors of war, civil strife, and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency. Salbi served as the organization's CEO from 1993-2011. She also authored the bestselling memoir, Between Two Worlds: Growing up in Tyranny; Escaping the Shadow of Saddam with Laurie Becklund (Gotham, 2005) and The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope (National Geographic, 2006), with photographers Susan Meiselas, Sylvia Plachy, and Lekha Singh. Among her numerous honors, Salbi was named as a "21st Century Heroine" by Harper's Bazaar in 2010. Newsweek, The Guardian, and the Economist Intelligence Unit each named Salbi as one of the most influential and inspirational women in the world in 2011.

Rennio Maifredi is a photographer whose fashion work has been featured in Allure, Vogue, and Marie Claire. He has a particular passion for portrait photography and his work in that area has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Time, and Wired among others. His work has been exhibited in private collections in New York City. Maifredi was born and raised in Italy and is currently based in New York.

Social Science / Women's Studies / Photography-Portraits
Hardcover, 10.25 x 15.125 inches, 144 pages, 62 four-color photographs.
ISBN: 978-1-57687-619-0, $65.00 To RSVP email: RSVP@powerHouseArena.com

News Links For February 8, 2013

India gambettaHere is the latest news edition from journalist Diego Gambetta who is on the front lines of coverage of the Braveheart gang-rape trial now going on in New Delhi. Diego is currently writing a book on how women can protect themselves from attack. Contact Diego directly for more information.

The Braveheart trial is "in-camera". What does that mean? Definition of "in-camera" proceedings:

The Braveheart trial in Delhi is "in-camera" which means that the proceedings are being video recorded but entry is restricted with only a select few people, including vetted media professionals, allowed to be present. In India, the newspaper said that the proceedings are not allowed to be published. But that seems to be an exception since not all in-camera proceedings is this rule followed.

News Feed

Foreign girl raped in Delhi

Surprise police checks for harassment in buses

New rules on badges for staff of public vehicles

NCR states list steps for transport safety

Now, this is something different-a Hindu version of Taliban VHP cry foul, artists cry freedom