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Stop India's rape culture

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FEBRUARY 05, 2013

A little more than a month ago, on Dec. 16, 2012, a 23-year-old student was brutally raped by six men on a public bus in Delhi, India. She had boarded what she thought was a public bus but which was actually a vehicle being driven by the six men on a joyride. Her insides were literally torn apart as the men used a metal rod to penetrate her and took turns having their way with the girl.

Flash forward to a week later: I am far away from the incident, vacationing with my parents and friends in Belize. My older sister and some friends of mine decided to go to a nightclub. About an hour in, my sister felt bored and decided to leave to go back to the hotel.

I didn’t heed my sister and waved her off goodbye. When I came home after, my parents were livid. They yelled at me — and rightly so ­— for not having the correct frame of mind to walk her home.

My mother yelled at me, concerned that something could have happened to my sister. “She wouldn’t be accepted back into society,” my mother said. “How could she face anyone? You should have walked her home!” Upset at my lapse of judgment, I profusely apologized to my sister and my parents, vowing to never let her walk alone again.

The rape in Delhi has opened up discussion in India and all over the world. Although laws are in the process of being changed to make the punishment for sex crimes more severe, I realize that it is the battle for the hearts and minds of Indians that must be won.

For example, considering my mother’s lecture, I couldn’t help but wonder what the circumstances would be if the setting had been India and my sister had actually been raped. Who would have been more to blame? Would it have been the society that allowed for these types of sex crimes to be okay? Or would I be more to blame, not protecting my sister and establishing my presence as a protective male?

Although I fully admit I should have walked her home, currently in India the answer would unfortunately be the latter. For centuries, most of society in India has declined to blame rape on society. Excuses ranging from the raped girls being too scantily clad to, “what was she even doing in that neighborhood?” run aplenty throughout India. This needs to change.

As an Indian Amer ican I believe it is my duty to change the views toward women and rape within my own family still left in India. And to the rest of you Indian Americans or true internationals who have come to Berkeley from India: I hope I am not alone in pursuing this duty. Change is hard, but it has to start somewhere.

Mihir Deo is an ASUC senator with the Student Action party.

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected]

FEBRUARY 05, 2013