India has received much attention in recent months for sexual assaults against both Indian and foreign women. The seven month trial of four men accused of gang raping a woman on a bus in New Delhi in February is expected to close soon. If found guilty, the men face death by hanging. But national statistics suggest that fewer than one-quarter of alleged rapists were convicted, in part because of the stigmatization of the victims.
High profile cases like this one are beginning to change this perception. The February rape sparked national protests, prompting the Indian Parliament created fast-track courts to address rape and to impose harsher sentences for convicted rapists.
And now a new campaign is focusing attention on domestic violence, using images of the Hindu goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati touched up to reveal black eyes, swollen lips, or lacerations indicative of domestic violence. Each image is accompanied with a short text reading, “Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68 per cent of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.” It’s a powerful campaign.
Meanwhile Huffington Post reported that a Texas business created a decal of a woman bound and tied curled up in a truck. When placed on a truck’s tailgate, the image creates an optical illusion making it appear the woman is lying in the back of the pickup truck bed. The shop producing the decal hopes that it will attract new business. But critics argue that the image contributes to a culture of violence against women.
What do you think? Will India’s campaign to reduce gender-based violence be successful? Is the violence against women in India indicative of a “culture of violence”? Does such a culture exist in the United States? And if so, what might be done to reduce or eliminate gender-based violence? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.