How can we look away?


My piece in Time magazine on hangings, and the impossibility of closure:

People could not look away from her death and her rape, from every last, painful detail; so many Indians mourned bitterly, as though they had lost someone of their own. But if these four men are hanged, when the process of appeals and mercy petitions finish, that will not put an end to sexual violence.

India is not the only country in the world dealing with high rates of violence against women, including rape; it’s just that for decades, we had perfected the ability to look away. We did not look at the ways in which caste wars impacted women and visited even more violence on them, or at the high rates of domestic violence. Even with rape, even in a year when rapes have been front-page news, we prefer to look at the relatively minuscule percentage of “stranger rapes” than at the high numbers of rapes in situations where the victims and survivors know their assailants.

Often in this year, it has been hard to look too closely at what the news brings. The bodies of three young girls, found mutilated in a well; the rape and murder of a 50-year-old women suspected of witchcraft by nine men who raped her 26-year-old daughter, too; the 62-year-old man who raped or assaulted all five of his daughters and had started on his granddaughters when they finally reported him.

Those who called for justice, anguish in their voices, might be satisfied with a hanging, with prison sentences. This might be the closure they wanted. They might avert their eyes and move on to other matters, the falling rupee, a looming election. (Read the rest here.)






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