India: Are the gang rapes at all representative of the culture towards women there?

(This is not meant to be inflammatory or insulting, so don’t take it that way. This is a matter of ignorance that I wish fought.)

To this clueless Californian, when I think “India” I imagine things like: yoga, peace-leaving Hindus, Gandhi, extreme poverty, poor people, smart engineers, stupendous reference for cows. Not a deep-rooted hatred towards women and public gang rapes.

The news stories that I’ve read recently make it seem like this is an ingrained part of the culture there. Is that actually the case?

If so, how does a whole society learn to hate its women – and what would the cultural purpose of that be? Even in Arab societies, where women are strictly controlled and submissive, they’re not outright abused and sexually violated in public, are they?

The whole thing just seems so strange to me because it’s so at odds with the (probably idealized, almost noble-savage like) image of India that I was shown as a kid. Obviously, I have no firsthand experience with this foreign land, so any enlightenment is welcome.

It is clueless. Uneducated. Ignorant. There is a different culture every time you cross a stream in the sub continent and you come here and have the terminity to ask if rape is an ingrained part of the “culture” of 1/6th if humanity? And of course you have to make a drive by potshots at Arabs, you think Arab women are submissive. Have you met any?
And now back to your regularly sceduleded condescending tut tutting.

You seem to be covering that area quite well by yourself.

there are about 24,000 reported cases of rape in India in 2011, a country of about one and a quarter billion. compare
this to about 90,000 reported cases of rape in the U.S. in 2008, a country of about 300 million.

Why thank you. I do my best and its great to see my efforts appreciated.

Yes, I admitted as much, and it’s why I’m asking.

No, you misunderstand – that’s what the media seemed to be saying*, and I was skeptical of it and trying to see if it’s true. The news stories made it sound like women are protesting because the gang rapes were sort of a tipping point and they’re finally able to stand up and say “no more” to this sort of treatment. I was confused by this, because that to me sounds like rape is somehow an ingrained and acceptable part of their culture – is it actually? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, but I don’t know any actual Indians and it’s not the kind of conversation you can casually bring up with someone without insulting them.

To be very clear: The news stories made this seem like a CULTURAL issue, not an issue of a few individual madmen. Is there any truth to that?

*I read a few stories over the past week or so but I can’t find them anymore. Here’s two overviews and a few stories talking about issues, both applicable to women everywhere (underreported cases of rape, public shame) but also some that seem uniquely Indian (only 1 conviction out of the 600+ cases reported, “eve-teasing” or acceptable public sexual harassment of women, the “two finger test” for rape victims to see if they were virgins, a very slow/corrupt/inefficient criminal justice system, a high ratio of violent crime against women versus men, etc.). Stuff like that got me curious.

This I will take responsibility and apologize for. I didn’t intend for it to be a potshot, but in hindsight it obviously seems like one. I am sorry.

Now that you’ve made me think about it, I will honestly say that even if I had met some, it was only in passing and I don’t think I interacted with them much, if at all. The one woman who I did get to know – who I thought was an Arab – is actually Iranian, which according to Wikipedia isn’t Arab at all. (That’s how little I know about that area.)

So anyway – and feel free to correct whatever of this is wrong – I thought that they were forced to wear certain types of clothes, had restrictions on travel and driving, couldn’t talk to unrelated men, etc. If true, that certainly seems controlled and submissive – or perhaps subdued is a better term. Anyway, the only point I was trying to make with that comparison is that even those cultures, there didn’t seem to be disdain or ill-will towards women, just a desire to strictly control their freedom. Whereas the news reports on India I’ve recently read made it seem like there was a flagrant disrespect and hostility towards them. If true, I’m trying to understand why from a cultural perspective, especially as they seek to modernize.

Great data point, thanks.

I wonder how accurate that is, but even if there were 10x as much rapes in India as reported, that’s still below the US rate. I wonder if there’d be similar public outcry here in the US if a woman were gang-raped and thrown off a bus (I sure hope so).

A reputable source (my NRC newspaper) said that rape is very heavily underrreported in India, because of the hostile unbelieving victim blaming attitude of the police officers. (75 % of police officers in a poll said they believed a victim of rape was surely at least partly to blame).
The article said the reported number of rapes should be multiplied by fifty to get more realistic. You do the math…

Also a good reading starting point: Wiki article on “Eve teasing”

If a woman were “just” gang-raped and thrown off a bus then maybe not, but the actual detail of this incident is rather more unpleasant than that.
I think that if an incident exactly like this happened in any developed country there would be a similar, or greater, outcry.

(I hope it’s never put to the test :()

A better data point would be the number of deaths due to “family honor killings” carried out in various cultures.
America has lots of murders…but nobody tolerates them , or calls them an “honor”.

In a culture that holds virginity and chastity as the highest gaols a woman can achieve very few women would report such attacks.

If you were British I would have complemented you on a very clever wordplay.

Hey, thanks for making this a hostile place to fight ignorance. We’re all mighty impressed with the size of your penis.

And what the hell is terminity?

Never heard of Suttee, bride burning, acid attacks or female infanticide? Those kind of tell me all I need to know about the Indian attitude towards women.

Be honest, you really have nothing to contribute here.

The OP clearly that he was seeking information about a subject. Further, he did so in a respectful way while admitting his ignorance on the matter.

So then you have to come along and swing your dick around. Way to make the tiny part of the world that you touch just a little bit worse than it was when you found it.

Delhi and the Northern region, unfortunately, have the most female infanticides, a male dominated society, less respect for women, honor killings (few in numbers, but most embarrassing for the country).

Rest of the country, if there’s any case, it can be attributed to illiteracy, poverty, gap between rich and poor. As a whole, the country isn’t that backward imo. People may know that Kamasutra and Khajuraho emanated from the same culture.

I am a resident of Delhi but have lived in South India and traveled to all parts. It is widely believed by many including me that women are safer and respected significantly more elsewhere than in Northern states.

Solution is obviously, sensitization of society and police towards women almost exclusively in the Northern parts. Stricter laws, most importantly - greater conviction rates in rape and molestation cases to act as a strict deterrent. Current conviction rates are abysmally low and the perpetrators think that they will get away.

It seems like education would go a long way too, no? Where there is ignorance and fear, there is oppression.

I have a good friend that I made online that is an Indian man (he lives in Mumbai). Before this horrible crime hit the news in the US, he was posting about. I’ve read a lot of articles, mostly sent from news sources there. He’s horrified. (Has a wife, a daughter, a son, and a mother-in-law that lives with them.) There are some people who are awful in every country. But for the most part, I think (hope) that the US has gotten the message that it’s not the victim’s fault, whereas in certain areas of India, not so much.
It doesn’t mean India is bad, but the bad people sometimes aren’t brought to justice.

correct, but the other changes suggested are also indispensable.
only 1 case out of around 640 rape cases filed in Delhi last year had a conviction. That is embarrassing and that is the situation of the national capital, think about smaller cities. Strong deterrence is a must.
Police(esp. in Northern states) are notorious in the way they treat women who come to file a complaint, so much so that women are afraid to approach them. Sensitization of police is also a must.

People are generally cautiously hopeful that this case has created awareness and started the momentum for change. Various states are beginning to start police help lines specifically for women, planning to sensitize their officers regarding women, appointing women officers in all police stations, discussions on dedicated benches of courts for handling rape and molestation expeditiously etc.

At the same time India has had women in very prominent public offices like Prime Minister (granted she was Nehru’s daughter), President, and even now the Chief Minister of Delhi is a woman. Of course women aren’t immune to victim blaming & slut shaming; they’re even quicker to engage in it than men.