Violent protests erupted across India today in response to the sentencing of the main suspects in the New Delhi Gang Rape case. The four men, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, and Pawan Gupta were sentenced to death for the rape of a 23-year-old woman who died soon afterwards. The case sparked much conversation concerning the status of women in India and laws surrounding rape. Whether or not such a punishment is to be regarded unjust or just by others, it does not resolve the underlying fact that the death penalty does not address the state of affairs which many woman today face in India.
Last year, according to the Delhi police, over 661 cases of rape were reported. This year, just between January and March, over 393 cases were reported. New Delhi is being considered the rape capital of the world. The situation, clearly out of hand, is so chaotic that in order for justice to truly prevail, more needs to be done than simply the harsh sentencing of these four men for this particularly irregular incident.
Today India is a modern emerging economy, with new bustling cities attracting large global investments, whist priding itself to be the word's most populous democracy. Yet, behind all the facets of its economic achievements lies a state in which women's maltreatment is deeply rooted in India's ancient and complex past.
It was not up until recently in the mid-20th century where sincere social reforms were made which radically shifted women's roles away from strictly mothers, whose husbands were only to be veered with adoration. Indeed, despite some woman in the upper echelons being leaders of political parties and movements, today in India women make up just less than 10% in the Indian legislature. Over 60% of girls in India are married and bear children before the age of 19. Over 40% of women in India are illiterate. And though this is not as to say that due to these traits such an abhorrent rate of rape cases would be predictable, what these statistics do show is the social disdain modern day India has towards women and their place in society.
If India is to truly give justice to the 23-year-old woman who was raped horrendously by these four men, than it is to give justice to all women in India. And that justice goes beyond simply sentencing a harsh punishment to these four perpetrators, but ratherby implementing appropriate measures that will emancipate women socially.
The rape of that 23-year girl on that bus by four men is certainly a horrific event, but not an unspeakable one, for simply washing this incident away by simply hanging four men will not wash away the true hindrances women in India face. Hindrances to women's rights have created a society in which women are regarded so lowly that it no surprise that such heinous acts are being committed at such a staggering rate in the first place.