There are first world problems and there are third world problems. Yes. I’ll tell you something though – they’re not discontinuous. There’s not a clean radical break between them. They’re rooted in the same human flaws.
But that’s an aside. Now for full attention to a third world problem. Dabra, India.
One after the other, the men raped her. They had dragged the girl into a darkened stone shelter at the edge of the fields, eight men, maybe more, reeking of pesticide and cheap whiskey. They assaulted her for nearly three hours. She was 16 years old.
When it was over, the men threatened to kill her if she told anyone, and for days the girl said nothing. Speaking out would have been difficult, anyway, given the hierarchy of caste. She was poor and a Dalit, the low-caste group once known as untouchables, while most of the attackers were from a higher caste that dominated land and power in the village.
Well, that’s nice. Not just a bunch of men attacking a girl. Not just a group of men attacking one girl. A group of higher caste men attacking one Dalit girl. That’s what I call intersecitionality. That’s what I call privilege along more than one axis. They’re older. They’re men. They’re a group instead of one. And they have status and power in the village. They have the upper hand in four distinct ways – and they take advantage of it to smash her and her family for the sake of a fuck.
It might have ended there, if not for the videos: her assailants had taken cellphone videos as trophies, and the images began circulating among village men until one was shown to the victim’s father, his family said. Distraught, the father committed suicide on Sept. 18 by drinking pesticide.
Rohinton Mistry could probably do that story justice. I don’t know if anyone else could.
As in many countries, silence often follows rape in India, especially in villages, where a rape victim is usually regarded as a shamed woman, unfit for marriage. But an outcry over a string of recent rapes, including this one, in the northern state of Haryana, has shattered that silence, focusing national attention on India’s rising number of sexual assaults while also exposing the conservative, male-dominated power structure in Haryana, where rape victims are often treated with callous disregard.
In a rapidly changing country, rape cases have increased at an alarming rate, roughly 25 percent in six years. To some degree, this reflects a rise in reporting by victims. But India’s changing gender dynamic is also a significant factor, as more females are attending school, entering the work force or choosing their own spouses — trends that some men regard as a threat.
And when men feel threatened by women, what’s the solution? Exemplary rape! That’ll show those bitches who’s boss.
Many Dalit girls drop out of school, but the victim was finishing high school. Even in the aftermath of the rape, she took her first-term exams in economics, history and Sanskrit. But she no longer wants to return to the village school and is uncertain about her future.
“Earlier, I had lots of dreams,” she said. “Now I’m not sure I’ll be able to fulfill them. My father wanted me to become a doctor. Now I don’t think I’ll be able to do it.”
She has much in common with Malala, but a vastly worse outcome.