The Real Shame: India’s Patriarchy Roars Back After Delhi Gang Rape

Nilanjana Bhowmick – Time – Thursday, 24 January 2013 (originally published 18 Jan)

An Indian girl dressed as Lady Justice takes part in a candlelight vigil
An Indian girl dressed as Lady Justice takes part in a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. Image: Altaf Qadri / AP

“Let there be no mothers/ Let there be no wives/ Let there be no daughters/ And there will be no crimes,” read Anubha Sharma to a hall packed with students like her, all listening with rapt attention. A student of Indraprastha College, New Delhi’s oldest women’s college, Sharma wrote the poem, later published by Indian daily the Hindu, out of frustration after a long argument with her father on the parameters of safety for women.

On Thursday afternoon, she, along with some of her teachers and many of her fellow students, held an impassioned discussion of the infraction of their personal freedom in the aftermath of the horrific Delhi gang rape. Last month, the crime galvanized an entire nation into a flurry of protests, in which Indraprastha students, who hail from all over India, zealously participated. For weeks, teachers and students camped out at protest venues, marched and submitted memorandums to government authorities to make the city a safer place for its women.

But even at this female-centric institution, students’ day-to-day freedoms have shrunk since the Dec. 16 attack. Curfew for students living in campus dormitories has been brought forward an hour to 9:30 p.m., and girls are now required to seek permission from the college administration before going out with friends and provide details of the friends they are going out with. These measures, the girls were unanimous in saying at the meeting on Thursday, pose a serious threat to their personal freedom. “Every time incidents of sexual assault or molestation happen in any part of the country, we girls face more and more restrictions,” one student said during the discussion. “Why should we pay for the crimes men commit? Lock the men up. We are not the culprits!” . . .