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I may have walked those streets of Delhi alone where the 23-year old girl was gang-raped while the bus was moving around the city. I couldn't help thinking I may just have been lucky that I was not harassed by males while asking the way to Khan Market, the India Gate or the ride back to the hotel. Though I was careful, I wasn't really afraid moving around on my own and even thought of coming back to India for another visit. But now...

The thought that men can be so inhumane about how they see women never crossed my mind. What was done to the 23-year old girl in Delhi was so horrible. I realize though that India isn't the only place where this happens. It happens in places like Congo, Darfur, Syria or Liberia...places experiencing conflicts. Delhi is nowhere near the situation of these countries. It is not a conflict or war-torn area. But the kind of brutality inflicted on this girl and in other places were just as horrific as if they were in one.

Rape has become a weapon of war, a show of power over another, be the victim male, female or child. Justice Arijit Pasayat of the Supreme Court of India quoted by a friend, put it so well, \"While a murderer destroys the physical frame of a victim, a rapist degrades and defiles the soul of a hapless victim.\" And what could be more frustrating and depressing is when the very people expected to protect the victims and uphold the law are themselves skeptical and unsupportive to the victims and their families to the point of blaming or even implying the victim was at fault.

People's mindset has to change. Women are not objects or chattel to be used, bartered or sold. Women have as much right to be educated, earn income for themselves and live with dignity like anyone else. To deprive women of these rights is a show of cowardice and lack of respect for human rights. For how else can they dominate and impose their power if not by degrading and depriving the women of their right to education, belittling their self-worth and taking away their dignity to the extent of torturing, raping or making them work as prostitutes?

This pathetic way of domineering women has to end. It cannot go on. But it's so tragic that people are awakened only when lives are lost through deaths of innocent people and often so brutal as the gang-rape in Delhi. They certainly do not deserve such punishment.

The change will certainly not happen overnight. It has to start from the home, teaching each one the value of respect for human life regardless of gender and giving them an education. For its part, government should ensure the law enforcers do what they have taken their oath for and that is to protect its citizens and provide support to the victims , not blame them for their misfortune of being victims of violence.

It does not have to be at the cost of lives for the world to wake up and take action . If only people had the compassion to respect human life.,,

Gender-based Violence
South and Central Asia
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