Across India, people are holding protests in outrage over the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman that occurred in New Delhi last month.
Every detail that emerged on the story is more horrifying than the last — how the five men attacked the woman and her friend with a metal rod and knocked the friend unconscious, then proceeded to beat the woman with the rod while the men took turns raping her. The men even used the rusted L-shaped metal rod to sexually assault the woman, using it with such force that it ripped out intestines, before they dumped the naked woman and man out of the back of the moving bus.
My first reaction to this horrible event was to fall to that age-old assurance that something so terrible wouldn’t happen in America. It had to have taken place in another country. That was the only logical reason why passersby stared and pointed from their cars and bikes and then sped off without calling police when both victims lay under the overpass naked, bleeding and pleading for help. That had to be the reason why it took both victims almost two hours to reach a hospital.
But to be honest, nothing prevents an incident like that from occurring in the U.S. Terrible people will still cause terrible events, regardless of their location. But, what us Americans can take away from this event is that a country’s attitude toward rape tends to be shown in how that country creates laws to protect its victims. In India, rape is still considered so shameful that many women do not come forward to report it. Protesters in India right now are angry that police and politicians often downplay the seriousness of the situation instead of investigating cases and creating new laws.
But that’s just India, right? Surely our government is more progressive, and we don’t need to worry about something that tragic.
In the same weeks that the brutal rape of the woman from New Delhi was covered, the U.S. Congress killed the renewal for a bill called the Violence Against Women Act.
The bill supported organizations that served domestic abuse victims and had been passed into law in 1994 and reauthorized again in 2000 and 2005, but this time there was a hitch. People wanted to include three new groups of women in the bill: LGBT individuals, Native Americans living on reservations and illegal immigrants.
If there was a sound in the House of Representatives when this crazy new idea was announced, it was the collective sound of Republicans’ teeth grinding as they thought of gay and illegal immigrant women getting anything out of the government.
OK, that got a little dark, but in all seriousness, the House Republican leaders made it a point to not put the bill up for a vote, so it was not reinstated into law. Talk about a move purely for ideologies’ sake that wasn’t made in the best interests of the women at all.
Sometimes Americans tend to believe if something isn’t talked about, it isn’t a problem.
A consequence of life, perhaps, but not a problem.
Legislation may get passed when times get tough, but a few years down the road, a new group of politicians and Americans will challenge its value by saying that it’s no longer needed.
My point is American citizens should stay vigilant on how our government handles protection for women because, if all of the laws fall away, it will make a very real difference in everyone’s day-to-day life.
We have a responsibility to get angry and let our voices be heard when our government fails to do enough; just like protesters in India have been doing. In that regard, our situations are truly the same.
Lauren Flannery is a business and general studies sophomore. Her columns run on Tuesdays. You can contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org.