Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cross the Ganges in rage on rape, India is not an island

If quiet flows the Ganges I know not; rape on ice revisited

A winter 'sunrise' in Oslo 13 January 2013. Photo by Philo Ikonya 

            I still see scattered ashes of the gang-raped student of physiotherapy on the Ganges and the huge river rages in my mind. All rivers meet. All names name us. We do not need to know her name to never forget her. If it is offered we shall revere it. Deep in us, we know it. And we know more. We know that there is a message in this death for every human being everywhere in the world. This is not a debate on which to ask how come India is so enraged. It is not India. It is the world. From the North to the South: streams, rivers, lakes and finally oceans that seem to wrap the world in peace from on high are one.

It does not matter what form the ashes have taken now or where they are. This was not meant to shake India alone.  Whatever shores they may have touched have known rape before. We will not make light of this grave matter and say it just happens. I won't. I shall rage more than Dylan Thomas* for this was "no gentle good night!" 
There is and was insane violence. It is happening again and again right now.  There is no good rape. Not even the one in which the 'victim' in this case is a person who cannot due to illness or age react. And yes, I am raging because my little friend who has cerebral palsy was raped right in her mother's house while her mother was away for a while. Kenya. We must all shout at the beast of rape wherever we see it because too many people are silenced for one reason or another. Sometimes, it is a bribe.
I wrote long e-mails, used the phone to get the mother out of fear but suddenly, her daughter had not been raped. The doctor says it was not the first time. What then?

The River Ganges is long. Everywhere along it people can have their own entry point. But the last time we saw it on January 15, people were there to bathe in millions for the forgiveness of their sins. I have not time here to go into one religion. But this is about all of us. We wash again and again just like Pontius Pilate on that day and the priests daily.  I think the worst all of us can commit is to keep on thinking that this outrageous rape-murder has only pointed to India.  For who really lives after rape? Which child? Which grandmother? Which young girl? Which boy or man? So I rage that we talk without borders. 
But let us first look right next to ourselves and how we deal with rape and what that says to the world.

We can now ask India many questions and say that after all she is not that great. We are not overlooking her rapes, they are horrendous. Who has spoken up for the Dalit? How many more unknown groups are under ground as the UN keep peace? But let us first look at ourselves and very near us. I am in Norway.

Last winter 2012, there was what was referred to as "A rape wave" in Oslo, Norway. Never before had there been so many reported rape incidents. It was and is still a disaster. Nothing can be worse than girls being afraid to go home on their own in the dark because they are afraid that they can get raped. But in the discussions we had in the media and on our own. Something very strange kept happening. There were many who easily pushed the issue back to the girls. How they are dressed, what time they were out and who they were with. I know this boils over. There are people who want to convince you and they are sure themselves that women provoke rape. They are everywhere. 
The other dimension became the "immigrants". Blame a whole group of people. Blame them because they are black or green. Blame them because they were not born here. Blame them. It was the first reaction too when Oslo was bombed. It is terror. It is the 'outsiders'. In the moment of addressing rape, the best would be to stick to the offence and report all offenders not races or background. Today I visited the Akerselva. She battles with winter 2013 to tell her story about rape on ice.

She wants to remind us of the environment too but that for another day. Until we all treat rape and acknowledge that it happens everywhere, we are going nowhere. 

High profile cases that signal trouble for the world

The reported cases that reach the media are the ones we call high profile. But these too sometimes go out of attention silently. What happened to the world when United Nation Peace keepers raped over 200 women in Kivu of the D R Congo? Was this little violence? And if your read well you know that this is not the first time that UN Peacekeepers rape.
 What impression do they give to the world? Of course some of them are settled out of court and outside the limelight. I remember Dominique Strauss- Khan. It is only that this headline coming a few days after the rape of the Indian girl probably bored most people. last thing I saw was a beautiful Gambian woman, Nafissatou Diallo, thanking the people who stood by her and God and telling us that this had been resolved out of court. There is no death sentence in many places of the world for rape.

Julius Assagne might be clean, but the world deserves to know the truth. After all this is a man who believes in 'outing' the truth. All we need is a reasonable end.  Ecuador gave asylum to Julius Assange whose freedom of expression I do not begrudge him. If we cannot get these things out then we have no right to sit hard and pretty and ask India questions such as I heard on Hard Talk. They are questions to the world. I know the idea is that India does not take action and police do not record enough crime but on rape let us not make only news. Let no river flow in peace from now on. 

For was it not only yesterday that we confirmed that former BBC manager Jammy Savile so vile hid in the best place? He hid in the open and as a celebrity for over fifty years molesting, harassing, raping children for years. Now only his tombstone is in trouble?
Let the Ganges and all rivers rage. I forever thank the Indian activists, the people for standing up, speaking out and saying rape is death. Their children did not carry placards that said stop rape in India. They said, Stop Rape!

And we saw one tough ex-police boss who comes out clear minded and ready to work, not only for India but for the world on rape issues. After all she clearly stated that Indian police behave the way they do because they still operate with the 1816 British Law (Better start serious review India dear,  Kenya has only changed the law and discovered much more work needs to be done still for real change to come. Take the first steps you Mahatmian land... great soul!)
This reform must flow longer than the Ganges and rather than wash any sins, take justice urgently to so many because justice we shall never give to our unnamed hero and so many other people in the world!   


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