Violence against women in India is big news, thanks to heavy coverage of the 16 December 2012 rape and murder of a student in New Delhi. Five men accused of the crime are on trial for their lives; a 17-year old suspect being tried as a juvenile.
The British media has feverishly repeated the gruesome details of the assault and devoted yards of column-inches and god knows how much TV time to discussing, pondering, chewing over, commentating upon, musing, considering, and condemning the way India treats women. This is not, in itself, a bad thing, or necessarily mendacious.
It is, however, disingenuous to the point of hypocrisy.
Let’s look at the numbers for India, population 1.2 billion (about 48% of whom are women):
The UK has a population of about 56.2 million. Fifty-one percent are female. In 2011 there were 14,624 rapes reported. Of which 24% resulted in a “conviction or caution”.
These figures shame both nations but the mainstream media is comparatively mute about the UK’s rape rate. It’s worth noting that it took me three times as long to dig up reliable UK statistics as it did to find the India numbers.
The global outcry about the New Delhi rape case is right and proper, but it isn’t enough.
Like charity, the campaign for women’s safety must start at home. Finger pointing is at best a cop-out and at worse tacit xenophobia. However soothing it may be to pretend that horrifying sexual violence is something “they” do the facts tell a different story. We need to be as outraged about sexual violence here as we are when it there.
Rape Crisis UK