Nowhere To Turn. *Redux*

by: canadian gal

Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 21:11:13 PM EST

I originally wrote this diary back in 2009, but in light of recent news in India, it seems timely to repost it.
canadian gal :: Nowhere To Turn. *Redux*
Physicians for Human Rights, in partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, has published a report documenting the scope and long-term impact of rape and other sexual violence experienced by women who fled attacks on their villages in Darfur and are now refugees in neighboring Chad.

The report -- titled "Nowhere To Turn: Failure To Protect, Support and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women" corroborates women's accounts of rape and other crimes against humanity that they have experienced in Darfur, as well as rape and deprivations of basic needs in refugee camps in Chad. Based on interviews with female refugees living in Chad's Farchana refugee camp, the report calls for "vigorous prosecution of rape as a war crime."

Drawing courtesy Human Rights Watch, artist "Salah", 13: "There were soldiers from Sudan, Janjaweed, and planes and bombs. I saw the Janjaweed take girls and women. The women were screaming. They seized them, they took them by force. The pretty ones were taken away...Girls were taken, small girls too, I think 5 and 7 and 14. Some came back after four or five hours...some we haven't seen again."

"Many Darfuri women refugees live in a nightmare of memories of past trauma compounded by the constant threat of sexual violence around the camps now," said said Susannah Sirkin, the physician group's deputy director.

"Women who report being raped are stigmatized, and remain trapped in places of perpetual insecurity. There's no one to stop the rapes, no one to turn to for justice for past or ongoing crimes, and little psycho-social support to address their prolonged and unimaginable traumas."

Dr. Sondra Crosby, a Physicians for Human Rights consultant and expert in refugee trauma, said "the atmosphere of intimidation was palpable as we listened to women describing their profound suffering and fear, and their yearning to return safely and with dignity to their former lives."

Of those refugees interviewed, "32 reported instances of confirmed or highly probable rape" -- 17 in Darfur and 15 in Chad, the group said. "Among the instances of rape reported in Chad, the vast majority (10 of 11 confirmed reports) occurred when women left the camps to gather firewood." And just over half of the 88 women interviewed -- 46 of them -- live in fear of sexual assaults around the refugee camp.

The group supports the issuing of International Criminal Court warrants against the Sudanese perpetrators, calls for "legal reforms in Chad to end impunity for sexual violence," and for "effective psychosocial support to survivors." Further it said increased protections are needed by police and peacekeepers, including "effective firewood patrols."

See the photos included in the report.

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brutal. (2.00 / 10)

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

While i didn't have time to... (2.00 / 8)
Write a newer diary. Lots to discuss re: India.

The UN's human-rights chief calls rape in India a "national problem". Rapes and the ensuing deaths (often from suicide), are routinely described in India's press-though many more attacks go unreported to the public or police. Delhi has a miserable but deserved reputation for being unsafe, especially for poor and low-caste women. Sexual violence in villages, though little reported, keeps girls and women indoors after dark. As young men migrate from the country into huge, crowded slums, their predation goes unchecked. Prosecution rates for rape are dismally low and convictions lower still-as in many countries.

Indian women also have much else to be gloomy about, especially if they live in the north. Studies and statistics abound, but India is generally at or near the bottom of the heap of women's misery. A UN index in 2011 amalgamated details on female education and employment, women in politics, sexual and maternal health and more. It ranked India 134th out of 187 countries, worse than Saudi Arabia, Iraq or China. India's 2011 census confirmed an increasingly distorted sex ratio among newborn babies in many states, as parents use ultrasound scanners to identify the sex of fetuses and then abort female ones. India is missing millions of unborn girls. Discrimination continues throughout life. Boys in villages are typically fed better than girls and are more likely to get an education. Women are routinely groped and harassed by men on buses and trains. Many Indian brides still pay dowries. The misery of daughters-in-law abused after moving in with their husbands' extended families is a staple of crime reports and soap operas.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

if there can be any good in this... (2.00 / 8)
i hope it's that this horrible horrible incident will serve as as a flashpoint, not just for justice, but for cultural change.  i have an indian acquaintance (in india; a classic rock deejay and motorcycle gang president -- no kidding; whole 'notha story), and this is a tough guy, right?   this is a guy usually posts nsfwish pics of royal enfields, hot babes, or royal enfields and hot babes.  man o' man, this guy's pure outrage over the absolutely brutal atrocity if this crime is palpable.  don't get me wrong, this is a really good and completely decent man, but this has definitely driven him to introspection, and he's taking a harder look at the way women are treated there generally.  better, it's driven him to action.  he's now organizing a 'ride to respect the ladies' event to try to help change attitudes.  he's angling to use his connections and clout to attract hundreds and hundreds of bikers in a ride across india.  

i hope it works.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
There's only one silver lining in this awful incident (2.00 / 8)
Maybe Indians will finally wake up to the endemic misogyny in their society. I lived in India for a year in the 80s, and the stories I could tell you about the male attitudes, the casual groping, constant harassment, and then the acceptance that women (and particular baby girls) were either objects to be acquired, or liabilities to be disposed of, would make your hair turn grey

I fled to Southern India after a while. States like Kerala have a proud matriarchal tradition, and powerful feminist movements that have spread education, birth control and equal employment rights.

The only other plus I see: finally this may make people think again about randomly equating misogyny and homophobia exclusively with Islam. Much of the misogyny in India is promulgated by Hindu men.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
It has been a problem in South Asia (2.00 / 6)
for a very long time.  The major cities have women-staffed rape squads within the police departments.  But if you are in the small towns and villages or the countryside, you are dependent upon the national police in many cases.  And they are extremely corrupt.

"Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, vol. 3, no. 18
(-8.50, -7.23)  

[ Parent ]
There's a horrible circularity to this kind of patriarchy (2.00 / 6)
Indian sons are taught to be 'lions' by their parents, spoilt and overworshipped, while daughters are taught to serve, that's if they survive. I think CG has diaried on this, but there are something like 100 million missing women worldwide, mainly in countries where daughters are considered financial burdens.

So you have male entitlement hitting a massive sexual imbalance, particularly in the cities. The net result of this is harassment and rape: a pent up sexual demand combined with an ideology which treats women as chattel.

I remember living in Agra for several weeks. I couldn't get rid of this rickshaw driver who insisted on turning up every day to transport me, so (in my liberal naive fashion) I just paid him to keep him happy. But whenever I wanted to go somewhere, he'd always divert me to a bazaar or emporium where he had a deal.

At one of those, I met an English woman my age (I was 23). In a normal British fashion, we agreed to meet for a drink that night and discuss our experience of living in the sub continent. But that night my rickshaw driver refused to take me to meet her. It turned out he had talked to the proprietor. They could not believe that a man and a woman our age could meet as equals, so the driver delayed for so long that, by the time we got to the shop, it had been closed. I explained, trying to hold back my anger, that the meeting was entirely innocent, and that men and women in the UK regularly met like this.

His answer. He drove straight to a street filled with prostitutes, and told me if I wanted to talk to a woman, there were plenty there.

The next day I packed my bags and headed south.

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
I believe it. (2.00 / 2)
Agra hasn't changed that much.  Chennai is a breath of fresh air after that.

"Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, vol. 3, no. 18
(-8.50, -7.23)  

[ Parent ]
The glut of males, and the endemic discrimination (2.00 / 3)
are thought to be significant contributors to the phenomenon.

I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all. -- William O. Douglas

[ Parent ]
I deliberately avoided (2.00 / 5)
reading details on this because knew I couldn't stand it. But I've followed the general outlines.

Was there a Hindu-Muslim component, which explains so many other incidents of violence in India in recent years? Thinking of the train full of pilgrims that was firebombed several years back.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

I doubt that. (2.00 / 7)
Trust me, Hindu society can be unbelievably sexist.  The worst cases of dowry murder and suicide happen in Hindu families, not Muslim.  The patriarchal bargain is alive and well in India, especially the northern states.  It is part and parcel of the varna/jati system (aka caste).  Rape has been used extensively against Dalits (aka untouchables) by police as a way to curb Dalit political activism.

I've had issues with sexual harassment in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.  By comparison, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are oases of respect.  

"Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, vol. 3, no. 18
(-8.50, -7.23)  

[ Parent ]
Yes, That's where I fled (2.00 / 7)
Tamil Nadu, Kerala and then Karnataka.

One could blame the patriarchy of the north on Muslim influences. Or Aryan influences. Chicken and egg. But in the south, I finally felt I could talk to women without it being a chat up or prelude to rape.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
According to Slate... (2.00 / 7)
One of the reasons there are mostly men at the protests is because the women protesting might still get groped.

The presence of some men that Borah characterized as "thugs" has helped to create an atmosphere during some of the recent protests that has been outwardly hostile toward women. Women have been subjected to the same type of groping and ogling by some of the men at these protests that the protesting women have long fought to eradicate from Indian society.

In India this is known as "Eve teasing"-the natural consequence for a woman who, like the medical student, rides a public bus. To protect themselves from attack and harassment, women in India are often warned to dress modestly and travel with a man after dark. Most of the crimes against women in India are inflicted against poor, uneducated women in rural areas, and they often go unreported.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
My partner at the time got groped in Northern India (2.00 / 8)
Guy on a bike came to shake my hand, then lunged at her breasts, and cycled off. I went running after him. The seat of his bike fell off. I brandished it, jeering. He cycled back and went down on his knees apologising to me.

To me, note. Not to the mother of my kids. I didn't know what to do. Basically she should have humiliated him, said something, got him to apologise to her. But the situation was so fucked up he saw the brilliant journalist I was with just an extension of me.

I threw the bike seat away in disgust, and he picked it up, and cycled away, laughing, happy to have had a grope at so low a cost.

Disgusting. I love India in many ways. But for women, it's a nightmare.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
I can remember being stared at and ogled in Delhi (2.00 / 3)
the very first day.  I was so horrified I began wrapping my dupatta around my face whenever I went out.  I was so relieved when our group got moved to the Y, because the Sikh drivers contracted there had curtains on their taxi windows.  They realized very quickly that I was utterly terrified of the rude men trying to peer at me and were extremely protective.  Believe me, I tipped those guys heavily the day I left for Lucknow.  Once in Lucknow, I bought the red glass bangles, wore bindi, flashed my wedding ring prominently.  And I never, ever went anywhere alone.

Three years later, I returned to India with my husband.  Delhi was as bad as ever.  But my husband, at 6'-0", towered over most Indian men.  I clung to him and he had no problems giving the evil eye to the Eve-teasers.  When we got to Chennai, we both were hugely relieved.  It was so different, and the further south we went, the better it got.  We hired a driver in Madurai to take us into Kerala, and we trusted him enough to take me places on my own.  He was awesome.  And I could walk to the commercial district in Thekkady alone and never even get so much as an intrusive look.

"Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, vol. 3, no. 18
(-8.50, -7.23)  

[ Parent ]
Meanwhile in the US the VAWA has expired with nary a whimper. (2.00 / 5)

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

Really??? (2.00 / 4)
Didn't know this.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Yep. (2.00 / 5)
Apparently Eric Cantor has issues with the inclusion of LGBT and Native American women being included.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Accckkk! One really should make use of the "preview" option. (2.00 / 4)
Sorry for the lack of decent grammar.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
It is an outrage that this has happened. (2.00 / 6)
Women's lives have been saved by that legislation.  Children are not orphans or worse because of that law.  
Every time I think about it, I just feel ill.  How the hell can we as a society press for the elevation of human rights worldwide if we are not even able to keep such vital legislation authorized?

This is probably about to become my pet project for the 113th Congress.  My representative is hopeless on this issue, but my US senators are reliable supporters.  I intend to write an essay about it at some time in the near future.  I just have to steel myself to do so.

"Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, vol. 3, no. 18
(-8.50, -7.23)  

[ Parent ]
The reality is that there are plenty of cultures left who need to go through what we have. (2.00 / 3)
The 'West' is not devoid of a history of outrageous sexism. Christianity has not been a theology that shines as a safe haven to be female in.

This is part of the coming of age that cultures have to deal with, and it takes time. Sometimes it takes generations (yes, plural) to die off before maturity is reached.

This is not negotiable. It is not morally relative. It is simply the way mature cultures behave themselves.

In part it comes with affluence, and it comes with education. Poverty breeds ignorance, and ignorance breeds violence. This is the state that virtually all cultures - our own included - have existed in for almost all of time.

And this is why it is impossible to separate economics from social justice, and why I find it difficult to fully align with pure liberal ideologies. "Capitalism" (for want of a better word) has done more to increase affluence than "Socialism" (for lack of a better word). Both words stir firey discourse from adherents and opponents to both, while the reality is that the right balance of both appears to be the real answer. Affluence increases more when folks can work to better their lot than it does when effort does not map to personal and family living standards. It also increases when there is the proper balance between individual freedoms and social responsibility.

Improving the economies of regions where women are abused is the best way to reduce this abuse.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


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