"Dignity of women is our collective responsibility. There should be no compromise in this matter,” said Indian President Narendra Modi in September. While encouraging, bold statements like this aren't enough for Indian and international activists working to end sexual violence. India's women's movement has reached a seminal moment in its development, and activists want concrete commitments.
The movement to end sexual violence in India gained significant momentum following a series of high profile cases of rape and gender violence, including the 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus and the rape and hanging of two teenage girls in 2014.
“The people of India are turning their outrage at these crimes into powerful activism. Right now, students in Jadavpur are protesting sexual violence and police brutality on their campus. All around the country, activists are mobilizing for change like never before,” said Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams on a visit to Delhi, India last month.
Every day, 92 women are raped in India, according to the India’s National Crime Bureau. Rates of rape are at a record high in the capital, Delhi. And Breakthrough’s recent survey of women in six Indian states reveals that 91 percent of women and girls in India face sexual harassment in their lifetime.
Echoing Indian activist groups, including Breakthrough, Williams and fellow laureate Shirin Ebadi, are calling on the Indian government to show leadership in the movement to end rape and gender violence by endorsing the G8-backed Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. They are also calling for an end to impunity for rapists in India.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to tackling violence against women and said India was shamed by sexual violence and gender inequality. Now is the time for India to show leadership by endorsing the Declaration and ending impunity for violence against women,” said Ebadi.
“We echo the calls of Indian activists for broader legal definitions of sexual violence, outlawing all forms of marital rape and ending victim blaming by law enforcement and medical professionals. It’s time to turn words and commitments into action.”
Photo via India Live Today