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The Real Reason the #DelhiGangRape Protests Were Crushed

January 19, 2013

by Rita Banerji

“It was so disrespectful! In our days we wouldn’t dare approach the Chief Minister or President’s house like a band of howling hooligans!”  This was a comment made by one of my parents’ family friends, in context of the student uprising in the aftermath of the brutal gang rape and murder of young woman in Delhi.women at rashtrapati by vividtimes_z

In response I told her, that I was amazed at how courteous the young people in the Delhi protest had been.  Because as a student in the U.S., every protest march that I had participated in, made a stop in front of the President’s house, as it made its way to the steps of the Capitol building.   And we did not mince our words or swallow our anger.  We expressed those with our demands, as we believed we were entitled to.  I remember standing in front of the White House gate with thousands of others yelling slogans like “Bush you liar! We’ll set your ass on fire!”  And then someone in the crowd said, “Not loud enough. We need make sure he heard.”  So on the count of 1-2-3 there was another chorus – so loud, it felt like it must have resounded through the whole city.

2012-12-22T140013Z_1_CDEE8BL12WH00_RTROPTP_2_INDIA-PROTESTSIn fact one of the other complaints about the Delhi protests was that some of the students got violent.  To that I’d say, that it’s remarkable that the students held their patience as long as they did.  I can’t imagine, a youth protest against violence on women in Washington D.C. or London, not retaliating if they’re attacked the way these students were.   In fact, I think the retaliation would have been much fiercer in other countries, like it was at Kent State University during the anti-Vietnam war protest!  The Indian government was hitting the protesters with water cannons from day one!  Then they brought the police out in battle-gear, with batons and tear gas which they used recklessly on unarmed students, whose only ‘weapons’ were, very polite, words of demand for safety of women, and government/police accountability!!

There are numerous photographs of 6-7 police men, in full battle gear, wielding batons from all sides on a cowering woman on the ground, or 4-5 of them dragging a woman across the ground like a hunted animal. women beating_vivid times_z But there is not one photograph of a gang of students beating up a policeman.  Even the policeman who died at the protests (whose death the government first tried to pin on the students), turns out, died without being touched.  He just dropped to the ground due to a cardiac arrest.  A photo of this man shows that he was being helped by some of the protestors nearby, who loosened his clothing and tried to help him breathe!!!

A policeman who collapses and later dies due to a heart attack was helped by protesters.

It is interesting how to the older generations in India, the “irreverence” of this protest as they call it was such a big shocker.   After all, in India we are raised with the idea of reverence for hierarchy and power.  Governments violate people’s human rights.

Companies violate workers human rights.  Doctors violate patients’ human rights.  Police and politicians violate citizens human rights.  Upper castes violate the lower castes human rights.  Men blatantly violate women’s human rights.  Parents’ violate their children’s human rights.   But the way we see it in India — this is the privilege of hierarchy!!  The ones lower down, the ones whose rights are trampled, cannot demand their human rights or accountability from the abusers! But they can wait their turn, till they are higher up in the hierarchy so they violate someone else’s rights!

That one week siege of the nations’ capitol was a generation wanting to break this pattern of hierarchy and abuse of power.  It was demanding to be heard, demanding an answer and action from the government it has voted into the seat of power.  The seat of power belongs not to the person who occupies it, but to the people who elect their representatives to it – THAT’S DEMOCRACY!  It is the PREROGATIVE of the public in any democracy to directly address the head of state and the seat of government!!!

up yoursTill such time I can stand at the gate of my Prime Minister or President, and FREELY and DIRECTLY express my DISSATISFACTION with them, my DEMANDS, indeed my ANGER at their corruption and incompetency, INDIA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!!! 


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Rita Banerji is an author and gender activist, and the founder of The 50 Million Missing Campaign to end India’s female genocide.  Her book ‘Sex and Power: Defining History Shaping Societies, is a historical and social look at how the relationship between gender and power in India has led to the ongoing female gendercide.  Her website is She blogs at Revolutions in my Space and tweets at @Rita_Banerji

19 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2013 1:02 pm

    The crime will stop only when the local leaders are kept under check and police do their duty honestly without bias and political pressure.The society should also desires manner and respect for women.Half the crime ends if police do their job honestly and politician support them rather than keep them under pressure and misuse their power

  2. January 19, 2013 4:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Changing Women.

  3. January 22, 2013 12:03 am

    Rita Banerjee has awakened a long suffering serpent in its cage. Now until this humble and quiet serpent is free and emancipated, its struggle will continue. It is not going to dance to its master’s tune any more. It has suddenly realised that it can have a totally new life. Until that is allowed to it, its venomous angry fangs would reign eternal much to the dismay of its erstwhile master who needed it as much as it needed its former master.

  4. Prabhukumar Iynanda permalink
    January 22, 2013 5:28 pm

    What I find disgusting is the picture wherein ONE protesting woman is attacked by HALF-A-DOZEN of baton-weilding policemen. What a ‘kshatra tejas’!

  5. Dr Surinder Singh Sidhu permalink
    January 22, 2013 6:17 pm

    We should fight this rape culture by showing zero tolerance towards rape, Female foeticide, dowry deaths, rape and sexual assault are all a part of the female genocide. Man has become worse than animals, a thorugh cleaning up of the system is needed, the corrupt ,criminals and those with cases pending against them should be banned from entering the politics. If the students and other people were demonstrating against the gang rape in Delhi, what was wrong in that? Why they were not allowed to enter the Raisina Hills, it is a National Property and not somebody’s pesonal mansion. Why were the protesters lathicharged and cannons of cold water was thrown on them. The Govt could have shown magnamity and convened a special session of the parliament to discuss the problem. The Govt. isn’t sincere in its actions and is always seen siding with the criminals.

  6. M.R.Rana permalink
    January 22, 2013 6:38 pm

    Til people show the right door to the Corrupt Congress Govt.& the Politicians, People can not expect the Democracy in its True Color. People of the country have given the opportunity to the politicians & the Congress to sow the seeds of Corruption & the Crime to such an extent that now they have to Sacrifice to shunt out this corrupt & criminal Govt.

  7. Sally Scott permalink
    January 25, 2013 1:11 pm

    Having noted the often positive activism, for human rights, in the US, (from the likes of George Clooney, Richard Gere, Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie et al), I always wonder why the hugely popular Bollywood contingent never seem to take a stand on behalf of the rights of women and female children in India. I stand to be corrected, but Is there one Bollywood star, producer, director taking a stand? Helping any cause for women with some well placed money? Sal, mother of two very fine daughters.

    • January 29, 2013 12:17 pm

      Last year Bollywood actor Salman Khan did a show that had huge ratings on how women are forced repeatedly to abort female girls, beaten and killed for dowry, killed for so called “honor.” One of the guests on that show was recently a victim of “honor Killing” and there’s nothing Mr. Khan can do. Because the entire political and police system is rotten to the core!!!

    • sahitha permalink
      December 10, 2013 10:15 pm

      It’s more likely because people in Hollywood become successful based on hardwork, going through many obstacles, talent etc. Their journeys shape them as individuals who empathise with others. The current brigade of Bollywood have no such experiences shaping them as individuals. Also many people in India are not raised to think for themselves/have a backbone which extends to these Bollywood members.

  8. zanka permalink
    January 27, 2013 1:24 pm

    really a shame!!!

  9. Avi Rampersaud permalink
    January 29, 2013 1:49 am

    Im a broke student who always feel like there nothing he can do, and after seeing other students who just want to help fix the world from old pedofile farts, and evil doers getting beat and treated like osama discourages me a little. No wonder no one can speak out. No woder there is no foundation for unity. No wonder i cant even get a girlfriend, because they are all getiing kiddnapped, raped and sold. Also alot of parents are fucked in the head, but how can i say anything when the same thing prob happened to them and its all they know. How can i say anything when im labeled ignorant even though no matter how hard i search for the truth its stays covered up, because apparently the general population isnt good enough to handle the truth that the 1 percent can. How can i say anything when theres a bunch of older cats who think they have it under control only to find out they end up changing sides once they realize how truly easy it is to just not care about anyone else happiness or existing. Why did christopher reeves get the superman role and nnot malcom x. Oh yeah… Malcom x forgot to wear a cape and a logo, dude wasnt unique enough. Why am i being put to the tesy everyday to try and save the world when god already knows i cant unless people believe in me and join me and help me save her. I just wanna save her… Cuz i looked into her eyes and felt a connection, i dunno Theres just something about a baby girl sitting on the street alone that just gets to me. I think its just the street thats bugging me though.. The street just has intrigue… Makes me want to know where im looking at because that street has more personailty than any girl who is vurrently being raped now and forever.. I wonder what ot would feel like if i was sitting there when i was 3.

    • melissa permalink
      February 13, 2013 6:18 pm

      read The Leaderless Revolution by Carne Ross. It tells you HOW to change things : ) I have read many books in my own search for something that feels real and alive and will work and this is the only one that hits the spot for me. Maybe it will for you too. with compassion, M

    • Avi permalink
      February 13, 2013 11:34 pm

      Cool. I def will check it out!

  10. January 29, 2013 12:23 pm

    Dear Sirs/Madam

    This is a suggestion related to the topic, please feel free to debate and forward.

    In many countries (example, South East Asia like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, many Islamic countries of Middle East) the punishment for rape and molest crimes against women includes whipping or caning the criminal.

    This is a very good deterrant. It can also be applied to juveniles without limitation. I suggest this punishment should be incorporated in Indian criminal system in addition to the normal jail sentences etc existing currently.

    Thank you.

  11. February 3, 2013 11:26 am

    Reblogged this on REVOLUTIONS IN MY SPACE: A BLOG BY RITA BANERJI and commented:
    Recently, a Committee of India’s Supreme Court Chief Justices agreed with what I say here that the government’s systematic repression of the Delhi Gang Rape protests was undemocratic and unconstitutional! Here I also address why the protests were so brutally repressed.


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