India has been in the news lately. In part, for gang-rape (which, as you may have noticed, is a horrific evil on which India does not have a monopoly). A seventeen-year-old girl in India killed herself after she was gang-raped and failed by her law enforcement community. A twenty-three-year-old Indian woman (a medical student) was raped in front of her boyfriend and left in critical condition.
I suggest that you read this post on HelloGiggles (which is an excellent site, by the way, and often covers topics a lot less upsetting than this one). Among other things, it details the struggle that the teenage girl underwent in attempting to file her complaint with the police. Being sexually assaulted is horrible—and that horror should not be compounded by police who try to convince the young woman who survived the assault to drop the charges or to possibly marry one of her attackers. Her attackers were only detained after she specifically named them in her suicide note. Barring the most dreadful of illnesses, I would never counsel suicide as the better option, but I can understand why she did it.
India has more problems than that—and, honestly, nightmarishly high levels of incidents of violence against women should be enough of a problem for any country. I think that a lot of us have read about villages and other local governments in India in which unmarried women are being forbidden from using mobile phones. “Reasons” (using the word reason loosely, here) range from that they might form their own, independent social connections to simply that mobile phone use will “spoil” them. It is disgusting.
Online communication through computers, whether they sit on our desks or we carry them in our pockets, are opening up isolated communities, helping to advance peoples’ educations, and gradually transforming the entire world into one community out of many. It is wonderful. But that is also frightening to some more conservative individuals who believe that too much freedom for younger generations will erode their culture. Honestly, it will. It happens in the US. Sometimes, the internet and television can help a closeted fourteen-year-old boy in rural Alabama …
… realize that he does not have to date girls or go alone to the school prom, but that he can try to live in a way that is more true to himself. There are people in the US who do not like that. I have a friend who was homeschooled in an isolated location without cable and without internet access beyond dial-up (which is awful and put him at a lifelong disadvantage and should never, ever be allowed to happen). But that this sort of mandatory isolation and restriction is happening in India, the world’s largest democracy, is tragic.
Another problem that India has? Its population. It has been said that, in 2050, India’s population-growth may determine the stability of, well, the human race. Specifically, whether or not the human population will remain sustainable. Right now, millions of women in India do not have access to birth-control or reproductive health care, and are not really in charge of their own bodies. This needs to change—for the health of the world and, perhaps more importantly, for the basic human rights of the women in question.
India has problems, and the rest of the world needs to stop ignoring them.
PS: I too easily think of fiction when confronted with real-world situations, and it is in part escapist. There is an episode of The Closer, “Cherry Bomb” (Season 4, Episode 3), in which the protagonist, Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, goes out of her way to pretend that she is investigating a teenage girl’s suicide as a murder because she believes that, only by making other believe that she believes that the girl was murdered, can she elicit a confession from the well-connected boy who raped her. And this was also a case in which the girl went to the police but believed that nothing could come of it.