The Human Impact

Extreme measures to “protect” daughters in India

Gurpreet Singh is a determined man. But he is an even more concerned father.

The 32-year-old investment adviser is leaving India and migrating to Australia. There is nothing new in that — tens of thousands of professional Indians emigrate every year.

Unlike most of them, Singh’s reason for leaving is not the pursuit of greater economic returns, but a search for something increasingly perceived by parents to be lacking in India — security for their daughters.

It was the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi last December that jolted Singh, like millions of middle-class urban Indians, and awakened him to the brutalities women and girls face in this largely patriarchal country.

Since then he has been exposed to a torrent of daily news reports of the molestation, abduction and rape of women, and even more worryingly, of young girls, upsetting him so much that he felt he had little option but to fill in the Australian visa forms for himself, his wife and his three-year-old daughter.

“The gang rape in December was a shock for many Indians. It was just so cruel and made me wonder how anyone could do that to a woman,” he explained during a telephone conversation.

PHOTOBLOG: Women in India’s capital resort to self-defence after gang rape

Women in India’s capital Delhi are gearing up for self-defence little over a month after a 23-year-old student was raped on a private bus in the city and left dying on a highway.

The episode sparked public outrage in India, where many women say they cannot rely on the country’s often gender-insensitive and under-resourced police force to ensure their security.

Now, women are mostly scared of taking buses or rickshaws alone at night and have started booking cabs with female drivers, taking self-defence classes and stocking up on pepper sprays.

Rape hotline a lifeline for Haitian women

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – A 24-hour hotline for survivors of sexual assaults and rape is proving a lifeline for Haitian women and girls, in a country known for its high levels of sexual violence.

Thousands of woman and girls are sexually abused and raped every year in the Caribbean nation.

Although it was a widespread problem long before the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, sexual violence escalated after the disaster, women’s rights groups say.

Congolese migrants in Angola abused during expulsions -HRW

Migrant women and girls in Angola who lack adequate legal documents have been raped and sexually exploited during expulsions carried out by Angolan security forces, a human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) report – “’If You Come Back We Will Kill You’: Sexual Violence and Other Abuses against Congolese Migrants during Expulsions from Angola” – denounced sexual violence, children being forced to witness such abuses, arbitrary beatings and other rights violations suffered by such Congolese migrants in detention centres in Angola.

Detainees were kept in overcrowded cells with no basic sanitation systems and with little food or clean water to drink and wash, the report added.

Invest in women in conflict zones to promote change

Where would you put your money as an investor? A leading campaigner against gender-based violence says there is only one answer – invest it in women in conflict zones.

“Conflict zones have the biggest potential for change,” Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women, told delegates at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford last week.

“If I were an investor I’d invest in conflict zones and women who live there,” said Ensler, author of the award-winning play, “The Vagina Monologues.”

After 20 years: still no aid for Bosnian rape and torture victims

Nearly two decades after war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds of women who survived rape and torture in the conflict are still seeking reparations and justice, with only 40 cases of sexual violence having been prosecuted so far, an Amnesty International report says.

“Justice is not only about seeing the perpetrators punished, but it’s also being able to function in everyday life,” Elena Wasylew, the campaigner for Amnesty’s Balkan team, told TrustLaw in a telephone interview from Sarajevo, where the report is being released on Thursday.

“When you ask the women, what does justice mean to you, they say justice means ‘I can access healthcare, that my children can access healthcare, that I can go to work and I don’t have to be ashamed about what happened to me,’” said Wasylew, who has worked closely with women survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) over the last several years.

    •