Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger has since apologised for her handling of the situation and her words – the rejection email she sent to the student went viral online on March 9 – but this hasn’t stopped Indians complaining about the effect of generalising approaches, like Beck-Sickinger’s, have on Indian men and Indian society.
Rape cases in India have drawn a lot of media attention in recent months, especially following the Delhi gang rape in December 2012 which caused the death of 23-year old Jyoti Singh: the case sparked protest throughout the country and rose to attention once more in early March when the BBC broadcast India’s Daughter, a documentary analysing the aftermath. On March 7, Indian courts blocked the documentary from being shown on Indian television.
Rape victims in India have often been blamed for their attacks, but thanks to the recent worldwide media interest, Indian women are now starting to realise reporting sexual assaults is not as shameful as they were taught in the past.
According to statics shown by the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), there was a rise of 6.4 per cent in the number of crimes against women reported. NCRB data says that the number of rape cases reported in India rose from 24,923 in 2012 to 33,707 in 2013.
Indians, both in India and worldwide, are now speaking more candidly about issues concerning rape due to the vast coverage the issue has received over the last three years. This change of approach is raising awareness of the severity of the issue in India, as well as empowering women to come forward.
British-Indian Gaurav spoke on BBC Asian Network’s morning phone-in show Nihal: “the main reason why this has become big news is because there are thousands of people out on the Indian streets making it sensational news.”
Manoj Kerai, author of The Burning Bride, also said on Nihal: “Stereotypes are rising because of the way that men from India are carrying themselves as a result of this documentary [India’s Daughter]. Rape is a problem – it’s not like a tennis match where one country throws a ball at you and then you fling mud back at them. You accept it and say ‘this is a problem, how do we change?’”
The growing awareness of the extent and attitudes to rape in India appears to have worked in favour of the country, as more women and men can now be found acting against it, however the view seemingly once Beck-Sickinger and others risk promoting mistrust in the male population.
Image – Flickr: Ramesh Lalwani