Most dangerous for women?

Amrit Dhillon writes under the above caption in Edit Page of The Times of India, 28.06.2018 :–

So India is the most dangerous place in the world for women, according to a survey of 550 experts on women’s issues by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. One of the reasons for this assertion, apparently, was the level of sexual violence against Indian women.

So, let’s start with some comparative statistics. Most comparisons are odious, rape comparisons are more odious than most, and no comparison in this article is intended to minimise the magnitude of the crime. But comparisons are the only way to understand whether it is right for India to be constantly singled out for more opprobrium than
other countries.

Something very odd has been going on in the Western media’s perception and portrayal
of rape in India, something that is matched only by their own positively skewed image of
themselves. The 550 experts seem to have been hiding under a rock, reading only the papers that give wall-to-wall coverage of rape in India while quietly ignoring the epidemic in their own backyard.

The per capita figures for rape for 2010 (nothing more recent is available on the net) are:
India – 1.8 (per 1,00,000 population); Germany – 9.4; the UK – 17; Norway – 19.2; the US –
27.4; Sweden (yes, the most advanced society on earth) – 63.5. The last beggars belief, even if we assume that the definition of rape is much more stringent and reporting is infinitely easier than elsewhere.

So what are we talking about when we say India is ‘the most dangerous place in the world for women’? India is deemed by much of the foreign media to be the rape capital of the world but the same media seem to be able to handle high rape figures in their own countries without experiencing the same outrage and horror.

Even after taking into account the fact that the real figure for India is undoubtedly much
higher owing to the factors that stop women from reporting it, statistics for the other countries are troublingly high.

On Tuesday, the CNN website reported the ‘India is the most dangerous place in the world’ story and said: “India has long grappled with the issue of sexual violence.” Oh yeah? Pity America hasn’t started grappling with its rampant epidemic.

When UK figures reported a 20% rise for rape in London, there was no BBC World bulletin running a headline story on this shocking figure and what might be the social and cultural factors that produced the British beasts who committed these crimes against women. Yet the same programme often holds discussions on rape in India with anchors shaking their heads mournfully about the vileness of it all and asking what exactly is it about Indian society that can produce such villainy.

In reporting the 20% rise in February, the Independent merely noted the news quietly
with a headline that went: ”London sees 20% rise in rape reports in a year, but police admit they ‘don’t understand’ the reason: ‘There is something going on with sexual offending in London that we don’t fully understand’ said the police.”

What a temperate, calm response to an astonishing surge in rape. There was no broad
discussion or analysis of culture or male behaviour, no hand wringing, no anguished
revulsion, no self-hating editorials. But when it’s rape in India, journalists and anchors
hammer away confidently at everything they find to be retrograde about Indian society, namely its brutish men and sickening patriarchy.

While the British press have been bemoaning rape in India for several years now, the Rape Crisis Centre website says that “Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour.

This, just a year after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape in New Delhi. Yet in their reporting
of this crime – admittedly singular because of the sheer inhumanity of her tormentors – no one thought to say ‘Oh, and by the way, we’ve got a bit of a problem here at home too.’

The same depiction of India as demon country continued, notwithstanding the results
in 2014 of a major EU survey showing one in three EU women experienced some form of
physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15.

It is bewildering why educated and wellinformed journalists in Europe and America fail
to be aware of what they are doing when they report on rape in India in one fashion – with great blasts of moral righteousness – and on rape in Europe and America in another.

Is it the desire for easy sensationalism? Is it a certain latent racism that makes it easier for the media to portray India as a rapists’ paradise? Is it ignorance? Surely not when the
statistics are available on all manner of reliable websites? Is it some nefarious strategy to
deflect attention from their own shortcomings?

None of these seems in the least bit plausible. It remains a mystery. The purpose of making this comparison is not to suggest for a moment that, just because America or anyone else has a higher per capita figure of rape than India that it somehow lets India off the hook. Not at all. Each rape in each country is a loathsome crime.

The tragic fact is that rape is widespread all over the world and the West is no exception.
So the sooner the Western media start treating it as a universal crime found (sadly) in all
cultures and societies at present, the better it will be – for efforts to deal with the crime and for the sake of intellectual honesty.

1. We must applaud the author Amrit Dhillon for her analysis and insight. The old
adage of people living in glass house pelting stones at others obviously does not apply
to experts of Thomson Reuters Foundation, or Western press in general. Paraphrasing
Shakespeare truly ‘shame has fled to brutish beasts, men have lost their reason’. The
impressive number of 550 experts (whose nature of expertise is not divulged) offers a
fig leaf to each individual who can disclaim all responsibility when the report is
lambasted. We would like to echo M. K. Gandhi who commented on a similar report
by Miss Mayo on India as ‘the drain inspector’s report’ and treat it with appropriate disdain.

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