Shyam Bhatia in London
British NRIs once again came together to express their solidarity with the family of Delhi gang-rape victim who later died.
This is the third time in a week that NRIs from the UK have rallied in support of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim. The first rally was organised by an IT engineer from Hyderabad last Saturday. It was followed by a meeting the following day for which a former Delhi police sub-inspector, Darshan Singh Grewal, was responsible.
Shades of political rivalry have already crept into the NRI meetings because Grewal and his supporters are associated with the BJP.
Yesterday’s condolence meeting at Ram Mandir in Southall, West London, had the backing of Labour MP Virendra Sharma, who represents the constituency of Ealing Southall and is broadly sympathetic to India’s Congress party.
Speaking before the meeting, Sharma said, “I don’t want to give the impression that this is a political issue. It is a social issue affecting our society in general. It’s an issue of women in general and their protection. Women are suffering for certain and we need to fight against that.”
The British media, meanwhile, continues to maintain an unprecedented level of interest in what happened to the Delhi gang-rape victim and the subsequent social and political fallout.
Earlier this week, the London Times commented that India is a country “that has been called the worst in the world to be a woman and after the events of the past fortnight it is not hard to see why… It is truly shocking that in a country whose democracy has survived for three quarters of a century, its daughters are not safe to travel home on the bus.”
British media columnist Libby Purves commented on how “the leader of the ruling party, Sonia Gandhi, is a woman; so are the Speaker of the lower house of Parliament and at least three chief ministers. They should be mired in bitter shame at their failure to make a difference to women below their own social and professional level”.
However, there is reluctance in the West to acknowledge that their own societies are also affected by similar and even worse cases of male-dominated brutality.
According to the UK government’s action plan on violence against women and girls, “around 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 raped each year. In the UK, more than one in four women will experience domestic abuse since the age of 16, often with years of psychological abuse”.
Across the Channel in France, the public has yet to come to terms with the plight of two young teenagers, named only as Nina and Stephanie, who were raped virtually every day for six months by queues of young men who waited patiently for their friends to finish so that they could have a go. Following a trial last year, 10 out of 14 accused were acquitted and the remaining four were given lenient sentences.
Two weeks ago, German-born Internet tycoon Stefan Glaenzer was given an eight-week suspended sentence for thrusting his groin into an American female tourist on a train during the Olympics.
The woman tourist he assaulted was said to be disgusted and violated. Sentencing Glaenzer, Judge Michael Snow told him, “Women on the Underground are easy prey for men like you.”
West is just as culpable
Around 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 raped each year in the UK while in four experiences domestic abuse after the age of 16
In France, two teenagers were raped virtually every day for six months by queues of young men