Yesterday in New Delhi, police violently cracked down on citizens protesting a gang-rape, as well as a perceived culture of corruption and disdain for the Indian citizenry.
The crowd, thick with the members of women’s groups and student movements, tried to hold their own in front of the authorities as police employed water cannons, tear gas, and bamboo sticks in an effort to dissolve the rally. According to the New York Times, dozens of people were arrested.
"This is how they are responding," one protestor told the Times. "Hundreds of rapists are running scot-free, and the entire Delhi police is standing here to stop people like me?"
Over the last few years in India, the sexual abuse of women has escalated to national crisis proportions. Rape is epidemically common, but exceptionally underreported, and a few recent sensational cases have shaken the country to its core.
On Dec. 16, a 23 year-old student was gang-raped after boarding what she and her partner thought was a public bus. According to the Huffington Post, the assault was so brutal that part of the victim’s intestines had to be removed at the hospital. However, she is now recovering.
Six suspects have been arrested. The others are still on the streets.
The news of this attack has galvanized the Indian public into action, but it is by no means an unprecedented crime in New Delhi. Some have dubbed the city the "Rape Capital of India."
As Karl Marx said, "Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the female sex."
If India wishes to perform to applause upon the world stage -- if the state's ambitions truly lie in progress and democracy -- major changes obviously need to be made.
The protestor's proposed changes might be a good place to start. As reported in the Times, they are:
That the courts speed the progress of about 100,000 rape cases; that the police to pledge to register rape complaints promptly; that Parliament hold a special session to strengthen laws on rape, sexual harassment and child abuse; and that the Delhi police commissioner be fired for his handling of the protests.
The next change should be in listening to its people, rather than battering them for daring to ask to be heard. After all, the crowds are only getting louder.