*Trigger warning for rape* A woman is raped in Delhi, India every 14 hours, according to an official BBC report. In all of India, a rape is reported approximately every 20 minutes. These shocking statistics only apply to the horrors that are reported or discovered, and it is necessary to realize that so many more rape cases are left unnoticed.
The brutal gang rape of a student in a bus last December has sparked noticeable outrage in India. Ever since then, Indian activists have been making powerful efforts to communicate with the society as a whole in order to reduce the rape incidents. Recently, India’s average number of reported rapes in a month rose from 19.25 in 2012 to 30.33 in 2013. Although this statistic seems to suggest an increase in rape cases in India, it actually specifically indicates an increase in reported rape cases. With the recent anti-rape movement in India, women are beginning to feel more empowered and courageous enough to seek help from others, rather than suffer in silence. Prior to this recent movement, women would be too afraid to seek help because rape survivors are often ostracized and shunned from conservative Indian societies.
The latest domestic violence campaign in India is the “Abused Goddesses” campaign. In this campaign, Hindu goddesses Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity), Durga (goddess of power, moral order, and righteousness), and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge, music and arts) are depicted as domestic violence survivors. This campaign very effectively juxtaposes pure, worshipped deities to violently beaten survivors.
The majority of India practices Hinduism, in which every man learns to respect, cherish, and worship their goddesses. For centuries, it has been a part of the Hindu religion to treat every human woman as a goddess, too. For example, when a new bride is first brought to her husband’s house, the subsequent rituals encompass the idea of goddess Lakshmi stepping into the house. The bride enters the house in an honorable manner as a goddess would.
The “Abused Goddesses” campaign powerfully uses this integral concept of Hindu religion as an attempt to prevent violent incidents. This campaign reminds Indians that these women that are so ruthlessly hurt are in fact shadows of the goddesses that they spend hours praying to every day. By hurting these Indian women, these men are disrespecting their Hindu goddesses as well. Underneath each campaign image runs the following caption: “Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of Indian women are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.”
It is important to remember that these atrocities do not only occur in India. Women worldwide are suffering and we must continue to make an effort to educate and open our own minds as well as the minds of our peers.
Yours in advocacy,