The gang rape of the unnamed victim in Delhi has focused much needed attention into the epidemic of sexual violence. According to the Indian National Crime Registry, one woman is raped every 20 minutes. The actual numbers may be significantly higher as most victims are too humiliated and fearful to report the crimes. Out of the 24,206 rape cases reported in 2011, three-fourth of the perpetrators have not been arrested and the conviction rate is a pitiful 26%. Many cases linger on indefinitely which underscores ineptness and rampant corruption in law enforcement and the judiciary emblematic of the general malaise gripping Indian society. Currently, there are 100,000 pending cases. Delhi has now become the rape capital of the country exceeding the combined rape in all other cities. According to the London Guardian 260 men have been appointed to political office despite serious charges of crimes against women. Women activists were incensed with the careless, insensitive comments of the President’s son, who is also member of the ruling Congress Party. He mocked the demonstrators as ‘painted women who should not be taken seriously’.
Women activists are calling for a standard set of laws or protocols for investigating all acts of violence including “honor crimes” and domestic violence. Women also need to take a pledge against female fetal abortions. This repugnant practice is creating an alarming gender imbalance leading to the growing practice of bride ‘snatching’,
On the home front there is no room for complacency; American women suffer a major sexual assault every 2 minutes. Regrettably, the House Republican leaders have stalled the 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Finally, the US has yet to ratify the U.N. Bill of Rights for Women; only eight countries have failed to ratify the convention, leaving the U.S. in the company of Iran, Somalia and Sudan.