Kristen Frenis: I am 22 years old and a Senior at CCSU. I have a major in Anthropology and a minor in Sociology. I have studies abroad in Italy for a semester and taken a course abroad in Ghana. I like to go hiking and do yoga in my free time and am a self-admitted cat lady. I have always wanted to travel to India and found this trip to be the perfect opportunity to travel with a group of people I know for my first time here. I believe studying abroad is essential for an Anthropology student to become familiar with different cultures. I hope to gain a general understanding of Indian society and how it works.

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We’ve come to India at a very interesting time, especially for women. New detailed reports are surfacing of the vicious gang rape of a 23-year old female physiotherapy student in Dehli.

Upon waking this morning and opening my news app, the first title I saw was called “Rage in India as more Women Attacked.” In the wake of the woman’s ashes being spread along the Ganges River, a sacred place for Hindu people, more attacks have been reported against women. These attacks include a woman being set on fire by a stalker and another women stabbed in a busy Dehli market. According to the article, protestors in Dehli held signs that said “First of January is a black day.” Reading this article prompted me to pick up the newspaper that had been slipped under our door to out room in our hotel.  On the front page of the paper, an article gave more details saying that the attack occurred on the bus after the men started making lewd comments to the woman. When her male friend tried to intervene, he was beaten with a metal rod. The men and a teenager then attacked the woman with the rod and brutally sexually assaulted her. The woman bit three of her attackers, which may now be used as evidence against them. When the men threw the woman off the bus, they then tried to mow her down with it, but she was pulled out of the way by her friend.  Where was the bus driver or bus attendant? Why didn’t anyone do anything to stop them?  The details of this article sickened me but prompted me to want to know more.

I am glad to see that people are pushing for women’s rights in India and that people are calling for steps to tackle crime against women.  One article calls for the rape laws in India to be strengthened and named after the woman. They would like this to be done so she does not remain nameless and people recognize her as a real person, as a real victim. Another article shows a young girl working on a painting that shows atrocities against women in India. The UN is also reported to have offered the help of the special rapporteur on violence against women, should India invite their help.

The political activism of Indian people is among one of the things that impresses me most about this country. From the conversations I have had with people thus far, it is easy to see their passion for their country and its politics.

The news articles report that one rape is reported every 14 minutes in India. I can remember another case of rape in recent months in India that made global news about a young girl who committed suicide after she was raped and ridiculed by police officers upon reporting the crime. What is being done to combat violence against women? Why has nothing effective been done about this before now? Will this finally be the issue that kicks women’s rights laws and anti-violence against women campaigns into the forefront on a national level? These are just some of the questions running through my mind.

As an American, I cannot remember a time when our country has ever lobbied as a whole for a rape victim, or a victim of any crime for that matter. There are always two sides to any issue, but from what I’ve seen, the people stand united. The people considered a hartal (general strike) for Thursday but have decided to not enforce it, at least in Kerala. National strikes do not happen in our country for any issue, but they are common in Indian society. To see a country as a whole, unite against such an atrocity is something I may never see first-hand again in my lifetime. I can only hope, as a female sympathizer, that this issue will finally be addressed within India’s legal system. I hope, as far as India is concerned, that there is power in numbers. I hope that the people will finally push the government to do something about treatment of women in this beautiful country. The Indian people, themselves, must teach their children that acts such as these are unacceptable, as the rest of the world must also do. I also hope that the newspaper articles tell the truth that some state governments are taking measures to combat these issues.

It is sad that it takes something like this to finally push the issue in this society. My heart weeps for victims of senseless violent crimes like this one.  I pray for the victim and her family and I hope that she lives on in the hearts of Indian people. As far as women’s rights in India are concerned, this may finally be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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