Last Thursday I sat in my “Women and Politics in the 3rd World” lecture and my prof started by saying that she was deviating from the prepared course schedule to show us a documentary. Because it’s a course about women, it was not surprising that we started by talking about what is means to be a woman all around the world. Still early in the semester, we had just begun talking about political voice and women maneuvering through strict cultural traditions and institutions to make change. My prof warned us that the documentary would probably be difficult to watch, but that if we were going to talk about women in a classroom, we needed to not be so clinical and disconnected from our subjects. Most of us sitting in the classroom were women and therefore are connected somehow to these women we are studying. They seem to be on the other side of the world until you are pulled into a story that hits home for so many reasons.

She turned on “India’s Daughter” and within the first 30 seconds the entire room was completely quiet. The documentary, in a nutshell (although it is SO much more than this), is about a young woman who was gang raped by a group of young men on a bus. She was on her way home from seeing a movie with one of her male friends. She died a few days later because her injuries were so severe. After the community in Delhi learned about the rape, the city erupted into riots and protests calling for institutional reform and immediate justice for the perpetrators. One of the women interviewed explained that the political protests were not simply for this one young girl’s case, but that it was an explosion of anger that had been building up for centuries. Anger in response to engrained sexist cultural traditions and the patriarchal mentality that still persists, allowing sexual assault to simply be part of the everyday life in India.

I could feel the anger in the room when men on the screen said it was the young woman’s fault (and her family’s fault). She should not have been out at 8:30 at night with a gentleman she wasn’t related to. She deserved it because of her loose morals. She should have just allowed the men to rape her and should not have fought back so hard.

I can’t imagine what her family must have went through and I won’t even begin to comment on the horrors that this young woman experienced, but the POINT is that this is not a rare occurrence in India, and it’s not a rare occurance in the rest of the world – Canada included. Today’s Throwback is dedicated to the women of the past AND the women of the present, because this is STILL happening.

I would strongly recommend watching India’s Daughter. It will instantly connect you to the real and awful very quickly, but it is important. Let’s be a part of it.

The link is below for you and you can also find India’s Daughter on Netflix.

Important things to know (UN stats):

It is estimated that 35 per cent (1 in 3) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

It is estimated that of all women who were the victims of homicide globally in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members, compared to less than six per cent of men killed in the same year.

In 2012, a study conducted in New Delhi found that 92 per cent of women reported having experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces in their lifetime, and 88 per cent of women reported having experienced some form of verbal sexual harassment (including unwelcome comments of a sexual nature, whistling, leering or making obscene gestures) in their lifetime.

Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children (below 18 years of age). Of those women, more than 1 in 3—or some 250 million—were married before 15. Child brides are often unable to effectively negotiate safe sex, leaving them vulnerable to early pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. By far the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends.

At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting in 30 countries. In most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before age 5.

Adult women account for almost half of all human trafficking victims detected globally. Women and girls together account for about 70 per cent, with girls representing two out of every three child trafficking victims.

Hannah Hannah

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