Posts Tagged ‘protest’

Protestors of the New Delhi gang rape gather on December 30 in Bangalore, India.

Less than a week after the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign — which included hundreds of events demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world — ended, an all too frequent event happened in India — a rape. I’ve blogged about rape before, but this attack captured the attention and outrage of the world.

For more than two weeks, thousands of citizens in India and around the world have protested the brutal gang rape and torture of a 23-year-old Indian woman (called “braveheart” in many news stories) while she and her male companion were riding a bus in New Delhi after leaving a movie theater. She ultimately died from injuries suffered during the brutal assault.

We’ve all heard the tragic story but are unable to comprehend the horrific details. And we can’t avoid the ugly truth — violence against women is a horrendous, appalling, and pervasive reality that has placed an indelible stain on the world. The crime sparked national and international outrage, vigils, and demands to end the culture of rape. It empowered people to stand up and demand action and change from the Indian government and police.

And now, weeks after the horrific event, the men accused of the gang rape have been formally charged with rape, murder, and kidnapping.

Unfortunately, rape is a systemic problem throughout India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes, and in 2010, more than 24,000 rapes were reported. And there are undoubtedly many rapes that go unreported — mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, aunts, or friends who become the targets of violence that can end in murder or suicide.

Who can grasp the inexplicable violence directed at women and girls worldwide and the state- and government-sanctioned evasion of protection, responsibility, and justice? India, like many nations, has vowed to take action to make women safer and provide better protection against violence — a daunting challenge in a culture and world that do not value women.

In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point. And survivors of violence need support. This year, one of AAUW’s Community Action Grantees is Safe Connections, which provides counseling and support services to women and teens in the St. Louis metropolitan area who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, or childhood sexual abuse. Another grantee, the African Services Committee’s Project Aimée, serves low-income African immigrant survivors of domestic and gender-based violence in New York City with a combination of legal services, education, and advocacy.

The need for these kinds of programs has grown as violence against women becomes more visible throughout the world. But the shocking tragedy in India could be a turning point. In order to stop this ever-increasing trend of violence, women need action, not empty promises.

We all need to keep the pressure on governments to put into action promises made to eliminate violence against women. Do it for yourself. Do it for a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, or friend. You can make your voice heard on Capitol Hill by urging your legislators to support the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. It’s long overdue. But laws can’t change hearts or minds. That must come from within. What can you do in your community to stop violence against women?

Going to a movie and riding a bus should not cost a woman her life — a woman known as “braveheart.” May her death not be in vain.

Read Full Post »

Have you seen the Twitter hashtag #freepussyriot? It refers to three members of a female punk band who were arrested in Russia in March for performing a punk-rock protest in a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow.

These three women are part of the music group Pussy Riot, a name that the members chose to draw attention. The band members wear knit caps over their heads and sing, twirling and kicking their heels, to express their feminist views and to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was recently re-elected for a third term.

Denis Bochkarev

After their arrest, Pussy Riot’s first advocates were among the art and music crowd and then grew to include social media supporters and a global audience, many of whom have been flooding the Twitterverse with #freepussyriot. After the band was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison for “hooliganism driven by religious hatred,” the Twitter began running free with links to global media coverage. Outrage over the apparent lack of free speech has even spilled out into the streets.

Does this sound familiar? This particular band and protest might not, but what resonates is the fact that once again women are at the forefront of change in their countries. Remember the women of Iran protesting to get the vote and the women of Saudi Arabia fighting to get rights so universal to the rest of us — driving their own cars and traveling alone?

Well if you think about it, it wasn’t really that long ago that women in America were taking to the streets and even being jailed for fighting for the right to vote. In fact, we are still advocating for women to get to the polls! We’re also still fighting for women’s right to equal pay, sick leave, reproductive rights, Title IX compliance — the list goes on. We’re using Twitter for these issues too: #AAUW, #EqualPay, #TitleIX, and #ItsMyVote are just a few examples.

By the time you read this, there will be much more coverage of the Pussy Riot situation in the news. The noise may slow to start in their own country, but we know what kind of impact social media and global opinions can have. These three women, two of whom are mothers, are taking a stand. I admire such courage. I support spreading the word.


Read Full Post »