What makes Indian women happy?

India: the man is everything, the woman is nothing

India made sad headlines again. This time with attacks on a Swiss woman and a British woman. In the West, which has long overlooked India's darker side, people are shocked. Violence against women is not a new phenomenon, but so widespread that some local media are already cynically speaking of a "national popular sport".

Objects can be thrown away

The roots lie in the medieval image of women: Many men see women not as people but as objects, says the psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar. Objects can be used. You can break it. They can be thrown away. This triad of dehumanization was reflected in the horrific act in December, when six men brutally raped a 23-year-old student and threw it on the street like garbage. Days later, the young woman died of serious internal injuries.

Unprecedented wave of protests triggered

All of this did not happen in the country, but in the metropolis of Delhi, which is considered relatively modern. Therefore, although not unprecedented, the act sparked an unprecedented wave of protests. At the top were students. Together, young men and women defied water cannons, batons and tear gas. Fathers came with their sons. Grandmothers rolled in wheelchairs to the protests.

A culture war is raging in India. It is about the question: What value system does the country want to live by? It would be wrong to demonize India. India is not a country. It is many countries. In many ways it is ahead of the West. Indians pray to goddesses. There was already a head of government in the 1960s. Women work as doctors, lawyers and pilots. India has occupied the most important ambassadorial post, the one in the USA, with a woman.

Violence as a cultural problem

But conversely, millions and millions of Indian women live like slaves. Sections of society are still caught up in an image of women that is just as misogynistic, some analysts believe that it is even more misogynistic than that in Afghanistan. The West is therefore wrong in locating violence against women primarily as a problem in Islamic societies. It's a cultural problem. Nowhere is this better observed than in South Asia. Rape, honor killings, acid attacks, forced and child marriages pervade all religions: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, etc.

Violence against women is particularly endemic in the Hindu belt in the north. Woman is subject to man, a sentence in the Bible was translated. The Hindu catalog of values ​​stipulates nothing else: the man is everything, the woman is nothing. Hundreds of thousands of girls are aborted every year because they are considered a burden. As a result, there is a dramatic surplus of men in many regions, the social explosiveness of which is hardly predictable.

Consolidation of the male position of power

From an early age, women are taught that it is their duty to sacrifice themselves for men. The bride's parents have to pay large dowries to make up for the girl's worthlessness. They can only hope for recognition if they give birth to an ancestor. Sons are adored. At the end there are often men who see women as servants, property and fair game - and do not know the word no.

Rape, especially collectively, is a weapon used to consolidate male power. While there are no certain numbers, it seems that gang rape is on the rise.

Stigmatization of victims

Many analysts see this against the background that more and more women are trying to break out of old role constraints. India therefore does not have a problem for women - it has a problem for men. The image of women is so sick that perpetrators often lack any sense of guilt, even if they kill their victim. In addition, most of them get off scot-free because society usually covers the perpetrators and stigmatizes the victims.

The West is impatiently asking when the rapes will finally stop. Even in the West, it took decades, rather centuries, for something to change. And there are no patent recipes. But the tough fight for a new image of women, as the protests have shown, has begun. (Christine Möllhoff from New Delhi, DER STANDARD, 23/24 March 2013)

Knowledge: rapists should pay harder

The Indian upper house still has to approve, but the draft law passed the lower house on March 20: In future, group rape will be considered a special offense, but marital rape will remain legal.

In general, offenders must expect tougher penalties. If this happens again or if the victim, like the 23-year-old in December, is almost killed, there is a death penalty.

Failure to provide assistance should also be punished. Police officers and hospital staff can expect up to two years in prison if they fail to help a rape victim or prosecute their allegations.