The New Delhi rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, the 23-year-old who was studying physiotherapy so that she could better herself while helping others, and the assault on her male companion (who survived) seem to have triggered the reaction that we have needed for 100, or 1,000, or 5,000 years. May she be to women — and men — worldwide what Emmett Till, murdered by white supremacists in 1955, was to African-Americans and the then-nascent U.S. civil rights movement.
Reports of a man beheading his sister in an apparent honor killing in India have garnered attention recently.
On Dec. 7, 29-year-old Mehtab Alam dragged his sister out onto the street, cut off her head in one stroke and walked to a police station with her head in his hand. The Times of India said it was the first honor killing to happen in Kolkata in decades.
Read more: Man beheads sister in broad daylight in India
The horrific news came as Indians protested in favor of stronger safety measures for women, after the 23-year-old victim of a brutal gang rape died last week.
India wasn’t the only country in the news for women’s issues.
In the United States, for the first time in 18 years, Congress did not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
House leadership chose to let the bill expire, balking at new provisions that would extend protections to undocumented immigrants, Native Americans and LGBT individuals.
In Indonesia, the city of Lhokseumawe ruled that female passengers are only allowed to ride side-saddle.
But after all that bad news, here’s a look at what women did achieve in 2012:
A year in women: notable female achievements of 2012, from Malala to Hillary
Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage some men lay down as they attempt to control some women, and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they’ve gotten so used to they hardly notice — and we hardly address.
Threats of sexual assault now seem to take place online regularly. In late 2011, British columnist Laurie Penny wrote, “An opinion, it seems, is the short skirt of the Internet. Having one and flaunting it is somehow asking an amorphous mass of almost-entirely male keyboard-bashers to tell you how they’d like to rape, kill, and urinate on you. This week, after a particularly ugly slew of threats, I decided to make just a few of those messages public on Twitter, and the response I received was overwhelming. Many could not believe the hate I received, and many more began to share their own stories of harassment, intimidation, and abuse.
Shilpa Jamkhandikar at Reuters writes:
“If you thought the Delhi gang rape would cause a serious debate on women’s rights in India, you’d be half right. Let’s look at the other half: last December’s brutal incident seems to have put a spell on India’s politicians, holy men and otherwise educated people.
From suggesting that the rape victim should have called her rapists ‘brother’ to blaming her stars, plenty of reasons cited for the crime lay the blame on the women whom men brutalize, or portray women in ways that reveal our skewed attitude toward women and their place in our society. When given an opportunity to figure out ways to improve the education and behavior of men, and thus try to reduce the number of rapes that occur in India, many people revert to the more traditional method: limit the rights of women.”
(Read the full article at: Reuters — Shilpa Jamkhandikar, “Short skirts, bad stars and chow mein: why India’s women get raped” | India Insight)
Every single day, 452 women in sub-Saharan Africa die from pregnancy-related causes; that’s 18 women every hour.
Of course, women are capable of all sorts of major unpleasantness, and there are violent crimes by women, but the so-called war of the sexes is extraordinarily lopsided when it comes to actual violence. Unlike the last (male) head of the International Monetary Fund, the current (female) head is not going to assault an employee at a luxury hotel; top-ranking female officers in the U.S. military, unlike their male counterparts, are not accused of any sexual assaults; and young female athletes, unlike those male football players in Steubenville, aren’t likely to urinate on unconscious boys, let alone violate them and boast about it in YouTube videos and Twitter feeds.
No female bus riders in India have ganged up to sexually assault a man so badly he dies of his injuries, nor are marauding packs of women terrorizing men in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and there’s just no maternal equivalent to the 11% of rapes that are by fathers or stepfathers.
This summer, an estranged husband violated his wife’s restraining order against him, shooting her — and six other women — at her spa job in suburban Milwaukee, but since there were only four corpses the crime was largely overlooked in the media in a year with so many more spectacular mass murders in this country (and we still haven’t really talked about the fact that, of 62 mass shootings in the U.S. in three decades, only one was by a woman, because when you say lone gunman, everyone talks about loners and guns but not about men — and by the way, nearly two thirds of all women killed by guns are killed by their partner or ex-partner).
A woman is beaten every nine seconds in this country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. It’s the number-one cause of injury to American women; of the two million injured annually, more than half a million of those injuries require medical attention while about 145,000 require overnight hospitalizations, according to the Center for Disease Control, and you don’t want to know about the dentistry needed afterwards. Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S.
Someone wrote a piece about how white men seem to be the ones who commit mass murders in the U.S. and the (mostly hostile) commenters only seemed to notice the white part. It’s rare that anyone says what this medical study does, even if in the driest way possible: “Being male has been identified as a risk factor for violent criminal behavior in several studies, as have exposure to tobacco smoke before birth, having antisocial parents, and belonging to a poor family.