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    Gun Control

    India’s Gun for Women Backfires

    The government’s latest step to combat sexual violence completely misses the target

    Following a year of protests decrying the deplorable state of sexual violence in India, the issue is slowly gaining more visibility. The Indian government has acknowledged it needs to take more aggressive measures to protect women and prosecute aggressors. Yet the government’s latest tactic to reduce sexual violence—selling guns tailor-made for women—does little to improve their safety. 
    A state-issued firearm—called Nirbheek, a tribute to “Nirbhaya,” the pseudonym given to the Indian woman gang raped and murdered aboard a bus last year—went on the market in early January, and is made to appeal to female customers as a weapon of defense. The gun comes in a decorated jewelry case, Abdul Hameed, general manager of the gun manufacturer, told the BBC. “Indian women like their ornaments," he said. 
    But priced at 122,360 rupees (roughly $1,900), it’s unclear just how female-friendly the gun is. Only 10 have been sold so far.

    Indian women have already taken steps to protect themselves. Not relying solely on the new safety measures implemented by the government, including more police forces, women have sought out self-defense lessons and purchased pepper spray. 
    Then there’s the question of whether more guns actually make things any safer for women. Research shows that a person is 12 times more likely to be shot and killed if they are carrying a gun when attacked, according to India’s Women Gun Survivors Network. In fact, it is illegal in India to carry weapons in several public places—including malls and offices—meaning women with guns wouldn't legally be able to protect themselves (or could potentially put themselves in more danger). 

    Perhaps the most faulty logic of "guns for women" is that it falls into the same pattern of asking women to better defend themselves instead of addressing and reversing cultural norms that perpetuate India’s high incidences of sexual violence. Teaching men not too rape sounds like a much more sustainable campaign to combat sexual assault than arming their potential victims. 

  • Tsering Topgyal/AP


    Ostracism for a Delhi Rapist's Widow

    In rural India, few options for husbandless women.

    When Akshay Kumar Singh was sentenced to death in the brutal New Delhi gang rape case, it sent a strong message from a country that still struggles mightily with violence toward women. But for Singh’s wife, Punita Devi, the verdict brought a sentence of her own: destitution, ostracism, and an uncertain future. As a woman without a husband, she is left without means of support in a traditional countryside where women cannot work outside the home. "I am not educated. Our traditions are such that I cannot even step out of the house," Devi told The Wall Street Journal. "Who will earn money to feed me and my son?"

  • Activists from women organizations in New Delhi on Monday. (Manish Swarup/AP), Manish Swarup


    Delhi Gang-Rape Trial Begins

    First witness testifies.

    The first of 80 witnesses scheduled to testify on the Delhi gang-rape case took the stand Tuesday in Saket District Court, where five men are standing trial for the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman. If convicted of the 13 charges, the five defendants could face the death penalty. The witness arrived with the victim’s male friend, who remains in a wheelchair following the injuries he sustained. Neither can be named for legal reasons. After more than a month of riots calling for increased protection of women in India, President Pranab Mukherjee passed sweeping legislation Sunday, which included allowing the death penalty to be employed in “extreme cases.”

    Read it at BBC
  • Protesting New Delhi gang rape on Tuesday. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty)


    Gang Rape Trial Will Be in Delhi

    Defendant claimed bias.

    India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to move the location of the trial of five men accused of gang-raping a young woman on a Delhi bus, despite pleas from an advocate of one of the defendants that press coverage had created a bias. But the petition was denied because it was filed by advocate M.L. Sharma, who the court ruled did not have authority to represent the accused, not because of the validity of the claim. Five men have been charged in the Dec. 16 rape, and they could face the death penalty if convicted. The young woman’s rape and death sparked weeks of protests and worldwide attention on the safety of women in India.

    Read it at The New York Times
  • Rahul Gandhi following the first day of the Parliament Monsoon, Aug. 8, 2012. (Sonu Mehta, Hindustan Times via Getty)

    How Gandhi Blew the Rape Crisis

    As India seethes with anger over the brutal raping of women, the country’s leading political family has delivered only weak platitudes. Dilip D’Souza on how the Gandhis have tarnished their legacy and political future.

    Dec. 29, 2012: the day the Delhi gang-rape victim died, nearly two weeks after she was attacked. The same day, too, that Rahul Gandhi "broke his silence on the ghastly incident": "My heart goes out … We as a nation must reflect … deep-felt condolences … thoughts and prayers with the family."

    Nothing wrong with those words. But consider that those two weeks had seen a groundswell of public outrage building and eventually exploding on Delhi's streets, an upsurge that had echoes all over the country and would cascade into the New Year. There was frustration at the failure of police to make our streets safe for women, resentment of public attitudes that make such crimes conceivable, anger at the working of justice that makes punishment for rape a shamefully rare event, and much more.


    Pre-Trial Hearing Held for Delhi Rape

    DNA links five men to crime.

    A pre-trial hearing for the horrific gang-rape case that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old was held in India Saturday amid audible pleas for justice from surrounding protestors. DNA evidence from the clothing of the victim links five suspects to the rape—a sixth is expected to be tried as a juvenile. Possessions stolen from the victim, who died of multiple-organ failure following the ordeal, were also recovered. The five accused—ranging in age from 19 to 35—are being charged with rape, abduction, and murder. A follow-up hearing is set for January 10.

    Read it at BBC
  • Students chant anti-police slogans during a protest against the Indian governments reaction to recent rape incidents in India in front of the Presidential Palace on December 22, 2012 in New Delhi, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty)


    India Rape Victim’s Friend: No One Helped Us

    “I wish I could have saved her.”

    “I wish I could have saved her.” That’s what Avaindra Pretap Pandey is saying, breaking his silence for the first time since his 23-year-old friend was gang-raped by six men on a bus last month in India. He says that he and the victim, who has since died from her injuries, were dumped on the side of the road with most of their clothes removed and bloody from their injuries, but no one would help them. “We were lying in the cold night for 20 minutes … no one stopped to offer us help, even though I was crying for help,” he said. The six men responsible for the attack are in police custody.

    Read it at The Times of India


    Indian Politician Stripped, Beaten

    For allegedly raping a local woman.

    A member of India’s Congress was stripped and beaten by a crowd of women in Assam on Thursday after he was arrested for allegedly raping a woman the night before. A group of local women surrounded Bikram Singh Brahma, a member of the Congress Party in Assam, ripped off his shirt, smacked him in the face and stomach, and then were joined by men who continued to hit him. Brahma is accused of raping a woman while staying at her family’s house. Meanwhile in Delhi, prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old student, which has sparked protests throughout the country.

    Read it at The New York Times
  • Students chant anti-police slogans during a protest against the Indian governments reaction to recent rape incidents in India in front of the Presidential Palace on December 22, 2012 in New Delhi, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty)


    Indian Rape Victim Dies

    Men accused will be charged with murder.

    A New Delhi gang-rape victim passed away Friday after suffering a brain injury and organ failure due to a horrific attack that has sparked protests throughout the country. The Indian medical student was attacked on a bus on Dec. 16 by six men who inserted a rod into her body, stripped her naked, and threw her off the bus on a road. Her injuries were so severe that she spent several days in intensive care before being airlifted to Singapore for treatment. A statement from the hospital said the 23-year-old victim “died peacefully.” In a tweet to the public, Delhi police appealed for calm following her death, writing, “Praying hard for the rape victim will ensure accused are given severest punishment and quickly Reqst ppl to stay calm and maintain peace [sic].” The accused rapists are being charged with murder. 

    Read it at The AP