- Short term and long term solutions should be distinguished from each other. Not all solutions will lead to immediate results, and not all solutions will yield sustainable results on their own.
- The ideal set of solutions would comprehensively target everything from social norms to police reform.
- All formal & informal institutions are tightly linked, so it's hard to know which solution to implement first. Police responsiveness to sexual assault on women does reflect general social attitudes toward women. But then again, severely punishing and publicly censuring sexual an assaulter can do a lot to make sexual assault socially unacceptable. Which to tackle first?
- But then again, it can all be tackled together. Public authorities should focus on public agencies - judicial and legal mechanisms - while civil society - NGOs, the public - should focus on norms, and attitudes toward women.
- Nothing will change overnight, but every change will make it easier to bring on the next change.
I can't get much further than this. But really, how much analysis can one attempt? At some point, you just have to dive in with the implementation of solutions. The more everyone joins in, the better things will get and the faster they will get better. It's a complex problem, but it isn't going to solve itself.
I spoke with an old friend of mine today. She lives in the Indian city of Bangalore. Everyone knows Bangalore today of course, because it's India's IT heart and a global IT centre. It used to be one of those cool, laid-back, traditional yet very liberal cities that are some of India's absolute delights. But it was sad to hear her talking about all the insecurities she has to live with, as a young, single woman. The problems of walking around outside and feeling physically threatened, the problems of taking public transport, having to hear a constant barrage of sexual comments on the street. It just takes away so much of your daily energy, your identity becomes that of a perpetual victim, constantly seeking protection, constantly needing to worry about getting from point A to point B. It's just such a waste of what could otherwise be productive human capital.
The problems of India's women is India's tremendous economic & social loss. Absolutely India's loss.
In any case, I know we all have a "Facebook attention span" nowadays; a period after which you just stop getting likes when you post on a certain issue. That usually amounts to a week or two. But then again, when have I really written about anything cool or said anything catchy on this blog anyway?! So I thought to continue talking about the rape issue and its fallout, and draw attention to 3 articles that I think provide 3 distinct set of analyses/views/updates on this issue.
One is just a news report from the BBC but it does highlight the current state of affairs, so it can bring you up to speed on response to the problem. The other two are Op-Eds. One is by me, and I stress the immediate need for police reforms in the piece. The other is by Kalpish Ratna, and the piece appeared in the OPEN magazine, an Indian publication of which I'm a big admirer. It always has excellent, entertaining and incisive articles.
This is the BBC News article. Looks like creating fast track trial courts for rape cases has become the favoured solution, or at least the favoured first-step solution.
A panel reviewing India's laws on sex crimes after the fatal gang rape of a student has called for faster trials.
This is my Op-Ed in the American Prospect. In it, I argue for police reform being the first priority in addressing sexual violence in India. My initial drafts were wordy but also more analytical. Sadly, an Op-Ed demands a more personal touch so I had to toss out some of the details, academic references and so on.
To Stop Rape, Fix the Police Force First
This following Op-Ed I absolutely loved. It hit the nail right on the head. The language is vivid and the article extremely accurately depicts the public frenzy that always occurs in response to various public welfare issues in India, and the typical ineffectual chaos that this frenzy always turns into.
I would add that after the chaos comes the shoulder shrugging, the frustrated complacency, the "what can we do? This is bloody India, just the way it is".
Cry Rape and Be Noticed
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(P.S. Coming up in a blog post soon after this : My plans for the next few years (India !!!), and plans for both a career and a blog transition. Big changes. Big, uncertain changes.).