I dedicate this multi-part article to the memory of Jyoti Singh Pandey, the brave 23-year-old Indian woman who gave her life to wake us up from our slumber and inaction. Jyoti means light. Jyoti means radiance. Let her ultimate sacrifice be our light and radiance to find the path of human rights, dignity, justice and equality.
(Note: I am disclosing the name of the victim woman ONLY after I heard in British and Australian media that her father wanted the world to know her identity. I believe the father is brave and right in his judgment.)
This barbarism is India’s new epidemic: just like cholera, plague or small pox. Make no mistake about it. This new low of violence on women is India’s new apartheid where an extremely patriarchal and feudal society with its corrupt and sick leaders treats Indian women just the same way South Africa treated its black people, or America treated its slaves. There is NO difference at all.
How does the Indian society treat its women — right from childhood? In case you want to know, I wrote about it using my long, real-life experience in India. Please read And Then…God Created…Indian Men!
I invite all my sisters and brothers — both in India and abroad — to come together and rescue India from this horrific epidemic and calamitous apartheid.
I shall continue to write and talk about this issue in the coming days. I made a pledge to my sisters on January 1, 2013 that I shall work to stop this violence. I need your help, support and solidarity to make it possible.
Part One: Pledge to My Sisters
This is my first post in 2013. I want to write about a pledge.
I wish I could write about something happy and cheerful. But I can’t. Given what is going on in India, where sisters and mothers and daughters are going through a calamitous horror every single day, and given that the horror is going to hurt or kill my own family some day soon, I could not write about anything else.
I am writing about a dark and tragic episode of human civilization.
In India and countries like India, rape and violence on women have now reached an epidemic proportion. Both the number and frequency of rape, beating, torture, acid throwing, female infanticide, bride burning and many other “ordinary” and unspeakable forms of violence have shattered the society and particularly its women. Young women, even little girls, have been raped and abused all across the country, and unless we accept it as a massive epidemic and address it exactly the same way we’ve addressed any other epidemic such as plague, small pox or cholera, it will wipe out countless women and families — thousands of them physically and millions more psychologically.
Unless we cure India of this epidemic now, it will permanently traumatize an entire nation of one billion people, and cripple many more generations to come.
My 2013 pledge is this. I wrote about it on my Facebook page on January 1.
TO MY FIGHTING SISTERS. — I SHALL stop violence on you and I stake my life on it.
I salute you: as I wrote in my post And Then…God Created…Indian Men, “for the first time in modern Indian history, the entire country exploded against rampant, all-pervasive violence on women.” Do not let this precious moment slip by. You are making history.
I have asked sisters and brothers who showed their support on the pledge to send us ideas and suggestions. I shall keep putting them together and come up with more, articulated thoughts in the coming days. I want to spend as much time as possible on this one, more urgent issue this year. I need your help and support to stop this epidemic of rape and violence on Indian women.
I have also done some research on this subject and used my years of experience as a science teacher and researcher to think through this subject.
This is not the first time I’m doing this kind of research. My peer-reviewed journal article on bride burning and dowry deaths in India was published in the first issue of Injustice Studies (you can click on this link here to look it up), and then I expanded on that research in my book on the politics of religion and violence in India (link to book synopsis here with library locations).
Over the past ten or fifteen years, I have dedicated a lot of my time to work on the subjects of violence and politics of violence — both in the American and Indian contexts. I have worked against post-9/11 hate crimes on immigrants here in the U.S. and spoke and wrote extensively about them. I have written about gun violence and terror in America. I have continued working on the politics of social and religious violence in India and Bangladesh.
I have published numerous articles on the above subjects in various types of media and gave interviews to newspapers, radio, TV and online news outlets.
I did not say it only to support my credentials and expertise on these issues. I wanted to show you how passionate and dedicated I am — to analyze the various aspects of violence on one hand and create mass awareness on the other.
I hope in the coming days, I get your urgent help and support and share to eradicate violence and bloodshed and hurt.
I hope in the coming days, I get your urgent help and support and share to eradicate this new epidemic of rape and violence on women that is destroying the Indian society.
Death penalty is NOT an answer. In fact, it is counter productive to stop and eradicate this crime.
Just think about it: other than India, only a handful of socially backward countries practice capital punishments. These countries include USA, China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even here in the U.S., states such as Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have amended their own laws and abolished it.
The entire Western Europe and its most advanced countries, most of Latin America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and much of Africa have abolished death penalty, after serious and careful research and political and social movements on the ground. Here is a link to find out the countries with or without the death penalty. The countries that do not have capital punishment have mass murderers and rapists too. In fact, just a year ago, an extremist terrorist gunned down more than one hundred young boys and girls at a recreation camp in Norway. The convicted killer was not hanged on put in an electric chair: Norway abolished the death penalty long time ago.
I’ll give you more reasons why hanging a few criminals would not do anything to bring justice — either to the family of the young woman whose gang rape exploded India, or to address the horrible epidemic that is engulfing India.