The case of a 23 year old intern being raped in Mumbai on Thursday evening has been widely reported. The crime questions the credibility of India as a safe haven for women. Perhaps it is because the victim was not homeless or penniless that this case has been so well publicized. The woman, and her male friend, survived the attack and the intern released a determined message, “rape is not the end of life”. Victoriously, the five assailants were all apprehended as of today. The case is poignant and the response has been swift and noisy on the streets of India and on social media.
Rape is a world issue of extreme proportion. Due to the wide variation in its definition, statistics are inaccurate and vague. This case is well publicized. But there is, and has always been an underhand desire to isolate or minimize the credibility of India. Is this what is actually at stake?
The truth is that the US has a far higher number of sexual aggression cases. In fact, the US has the highest reported and non reported cases in the world. Approximately 85,000 cases of rape are reported in the US each year which equates to approximately 30 cases for every thousand people. In India, a country with nearly three times the population, the rate is 1.8 cases per thousand.
Is there a reason that the world’s press are discriminating against India? The safety of women in India is being seriously debated and while copycat crimes are to be anticipated, the risk is no greater than it ever was. There are far too many cases where women from poor, lower caste rural communities have faced sexual assault, but in Indian cities, the cases recorded against middle class or educated women is relatively small. It is far smaller than in the US and this rape in Mumbai should not allow us to question the credibility of India.
The scales fall in both directions. The US is able to provide lifestyle comforts and freedoms that India cannot match. Freedom of thought and individuality is an essential right in the US and there is no limit to your income based on any system of class or caste. The message is that India is a lesser country because it cannot provide lifestyle and freedom of choice for men and women. In this respect the message is accurate.
But the scales can weigh in favor of India as well. India can hold its own. With a population of approximately 1 billion people, India has provided a technology explosion for the world with the innovative minds of Indian technologists. 90% of the worlds computers work on a chip which was invented in India. India is a country which produces a vast number of graduates each year, more than a million in engineering alone. The US produces less than 100,000. Indian’s have a remarkable success in business and IT, let alone media and a compendium of other sectors.
India also leads the world in spirituality with more than 93% of the population affiliating themselves with a religious movement. Just 73% of Americans make the same connection to a church or other religious movement. Unlike America, India had a female president. Indira Gandhi ruled for fifteen years. Respected throughout the world she left a legacy of political foresight until her untimely assassination in 1984. To this day, America has never had a female president. It is unclear why not.
A case of rape in Mumbai questions the credibility of Indian men. It questions other things but it should not question the immense strength, power, wealth and sheer enormity of the sub-continent of India.
By: Vicky Judah