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Are Female Vigilantes The Answer To Stop Rapes In India?
Written by Lakshmi Sarah On 24 August 2013 @ 11:57 am | 4 Comments
In Breaking News, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, English, Feature, Governance, Human Rights, India, Media & Journalism, Protest, South Asia, Weblog, Women & Gender
A 22-year-old intern working as a photojournalist at a magazine was gang-raped in Mumbai, India  while on assignment on August 22, 2013.
The injured victim underwent surgery and is now recuperating. One man out of five suspects has been arrested so far . Like the Delhi gang-rape case (see Global Voices report ) in December 2012, yesterday's incident has also evoked nationwide outrage  and a renewed search for solutions.
The mainstream and social media are buzzing with discussions on how to stop these rapes.
Neha Sanghvi (@nehasanghvi ) was outraged:
Just feeling horrible to hear about the sick gang-rape of a girl in Mumbai city that too in broad daylight. Shame!
— Neha Sanghvi (@nehasanghvi) August 23, 2013 
Avinash Iyer (@IyerAvin ) tweeted:
Going by initial reports,the Mumbai rape is so similar to the Nirbhaya case. Girl,friend in isolated situation,friend overpowered,girl raped
— Avinash Iyer (@IyerAvin) August 22, 2013 
Script writer and blogger Constant Rambler (@ajitjagtap ) thinks that impunity is inspiring more crimes:
Gang rape in mumbai. Rapists are taking inspirations from the ones who didnt get punished or even arrested for their filthiness.
— Constant Rambler (@ajitjagtap) August 22, 2013 
Rabia sheikh (@Rabiasheikh7 ) was pessimistic about a solution:
another gang rape..few more protests, nothing is going to change! India is not safe for women #Mumbai 
— Rabia sheikh (@Rabiasheikh7) August 23, 2013 
But why this frustration? According to Catholic Online , reports of rape, dowry deaths, molestation, sexual harassment and other crimes against women in India rose by 6.4 percent in 2012 from the previous year. Statistics showed that 244,270 crimes against women were reported to the Indian police in 2012 compared with 228,650 in 2011, according to the National Crimes Records Bureau. India's rape problem has been reported as “bad enough to jump out of a window”  by The Atlantic magazine, referring to the case of a British tourist who jumped out the window in March 2013 to escape the unwanted advances of the owner of the hotel she was staying in.
Vishal Bheeroo  identified the problem:
The main problem is the lack of effective laws to protect women and the sexist comments in parliament is such a shame.
Since the Delhi gang rape, the Justice Verma Report  has been submitted, (though not without criticism s), and the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill has been made into a law . However, violence against women persists. Representatives of women’s groups, democratic and human rights groups and activists are alarmed about major ommissions in current legislative protection  to women which can leave women even more vulnerable than they already are.
So, what is the best means of response to what seems to be continuous rape cases in India?
To many, it is clear that rape is a problem in India, but the responses have been varied. There have been campaigns to arm women with pepper and knives , gender sensitivity training  and changing laws .
Members of the the Red Brigade  from a small village in Lucknow , the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, are taking matters into their own hands by taking direct action against sexual harassment. Led by 25-year-old teacher Usha Vishwakarma, the Red Brigade began in 2010, about four years after the similar Gulabi Gang .
The Gulabi Gang served as the subject for a 2010 movie called Pink Sari's . However, the Red Brigade is a younger version comprised of girls ages 11 to 25 years old. As the Guardian  reported, members of The Red Brigade  take:
Direct action against their tormentors and now when a local man steps out of line, he can expect a visit from the group.
Dressed in red and black salwaar kameez (traditional Indian-style dress) many of the girls were victims of violence in the past. They now take martial arts classes and participate in protests.
If a man has been found to be harassing a girl, he is ordered to stop. The consequences may escalate from there and if he does not stop, he may be punished by public mocking or violence. Though they have only resorted to violence on one occasion.
When asked where her courage comes from the leader of the group, Usha Vishwakarma said :
When you suffer, you get that courage. When you are victimized, you get that courage.
Not only fighting, the red brigade members are continuing their education  to make a career:
— ABP News (@abpnewstv) August 23, 2013 
Meet India's Red Brigade in Lucknow, they protect women and Girls from rapists!!! http://t.co/WogM9Cygyh 
— Tosin (@Olutosin) August 14, 2013 
As of August 23, activists and journalists gathered at Hutatama Chowk in south Mumbai in a silent protest.  The opposition parties took up the issue in parliament and organizations took out rallies in different cities. What they missing are perhaps more pro-active people like vigilantes.
Update: By Sunday 25 August, 2013, the Mumbai police have arrested  all the five men wanted in connection with the gang-rape of the photojournalist. The eldest one is 25 years old and the youngest of them is suspected to be 16.
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/08/24/are-female-vigilantes-the-answer-to-stop-rapes-in-india/
URLs in this post:
 was gang-raped in Mumbai, India: http://www.mid-day.com/news/2013/aug/230813-crime-news-22-year-old-photojournalist-gang-raped-in-mumbai-mahalaxmi.htm
 has been arrested so far: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Mumbai-gang-rape-case-One-held-manhunt-on-to-nab-four-others/articleshow/22001629.cms
 Global Voices report: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/12/18/delhi-gang-rape-case-evokes-rage-across-india/
 nationwide outrage: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Nationwide-outrage-over-journalists-gang-rape-in-Mumbai-Centre-seeks-report/articleshow/22006811.cms
 @nehasanghvi: http://twitter.com/nehasanghvi
 August 23, 2013: https://twitter.com/nehasanghvi/statuses/370997626889850881
 @IyerAvin: https://twitter.com/IyerAvin
 August 22, 2013: https://twitter.com/IyerAvin/statuses/370620995725324288
 @ajitjagtap: http://twitter.com/ajitjagtap/
 August 22, 2013: https://twitter.com/ajitjagtap/statuses/370615243002871808
 @Rabiasheikh7: http://twitter.com/Rabiasheikh7
 #Mumbai: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Mumbai&src=hash
 August 23, 2013: https://twitter.com/Rabiasheikh7/statuses/371000336942522368
 Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=51381
 “bad enough to jump out of a window”: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2013/03/india-rape-problem-jump-out-window/63284/
 Vishal Bheeroo: http://vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/is-mumbai-safe-for-women-i-dont-feel-proud-today/
 Justice Verma Report: http://www.prsindia.org/parliamenttrack/report-summaries/justice-verma-committee-report-summary-2628/
 criticism: http://kafila.org/2013/02/03/the-impunity-of-every-citadel-is-intact-the-taming-of-the-verma-committee-report-and-some-troubling-doubts/
 made into a law: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/sexual-harassment-at-workplace-bill-becomes-law/1107645/
 major ommissions in current legislative protection: http://kafila.org/2013/03/08/gender-just-gender-sensitive-not-gender-neutral-rape-laws
 pepper and knives: http://tribune.com.pk/story/498981/shiv-sena-gives-women-kitchen-knives-chilli-to-fend-off-rapists/
 gender sensitivity training: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/ID/2322665330/
 changing laws: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-21950197
 the Red Brigade: http://red-brigades.blogspot.com/
 Lucknow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucknow
 Gulabi Gang: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulabi_Gang
 Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lecercle/3707261938/
 Pink Sari's: http://womenandhollywood.com/2010/09/17/trailer-alert-pink-saris/comment-page-1/#comment-14444
 Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2013/apr/06/india-red-brigade-pictures
 he Red Brigade: https://www.facebook.com/redbrigade.lucknow?fref=ts
 said: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/13/world/asia/india-red-brigade/
 continuing their education: http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/red-brigade-confronts-india-sex-abuse
 #NewsPositive: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NewsPositive&src=hash
 #ABPNews: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ABPNews&src=hash
 http://t.co/a2ppfNHz6e: http://t.co/a2ppfNHz6e
 August 23, 2013: https://twitter.com/abpnewstv/statuses/370951363590512641
 http://t.co/WogM9Cygyh: http://t.co/WogM9Cygyh
 August 14, 2013: https://twitter.com/Olutosin/statuses/367528029276229632
 activists and journalists gathered at Hutatama Chowk in south Mumbai in a silent protest.: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/mumbai-gang-rape-generates-national-outrage-one-accused-arrested/articleshow/22007115.cms
 Mumbai police have arrested: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/25/mumbai-gang-rape-fifth-man-arrested
 Red Brigade's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=151483185029943&set=pb.100005047868782.-2207520000.1377291601.&type=3&theater
 Rezwan: http://globalvoicesonline.org/author/rezwan/
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