Saturday, December 29, 2012

Delhi Gang Rape Survivor Dies: Why Was She Shifted To Singapore?

Women Against Sexual Violence And State Repression
December 29, 2012.

A silent protest in Mumbai
We are anguished beyond words at the news this morning of the death in a Singapore hospital of the young woman who was brutally assaulted and gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi on 16th December.

We hold the Government of India, which took the decision of moving her out of the country despite her fragile condition, against medical advice, responsible for hastening her death.

It is clear that this was a political decision, taken with a cynical and callous disregard for the survival of the young woman.

According to Dr Samiran Nandy, a renowned transplant surgeon of the country, “I just can’t understand why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high grade fever and on the ventilator is being transferred. It will take weeks in this case to even look into the possibility of an intestinal transplant, so why hurry and take the patient out from a facility which works so well. It seems more of a political move”.

Dr Kaushar Mishra of Primus Hospital has expressed similar views, “There is no question of a transplant at this stage. The infection has to be controlled first, and the patient stabilized. I do not understand what the hurry was to take the patient out. Safdarjang Hospital, like other major hospitals in India, has excellent medical facilities and doctors to take care of the critically ill’.

Yet another senior doctor of AIIMS has said, “When the Prime Minister can be treated and operated here, what is the specific medical need to move a patient to Singapore? What the government is saying does not seem to add up”1.

Medical experts across the board are of the view that the doctors at Safdarjang Hospital were doing an excellent job and were taking good care of her.

Indeed, at a time when the government itself is promoting and advertising India as a destination for medical tourism and does not tire of boasting of the excellent medical expertise that the country has, we fail to see why this hurry to move the young woman out of the country on supposedly medical grounds of good treatment, and contrary to expert medical opinion?

The Head of the JPN Apex Trauma Centre, AIIMS, is reported as saying that `the decision was okayed keeping in mind the best interest of the patient and as directed by the Government’2. According to newspaper reports the CM Sheila Dixit was among the first to suggest this idea of treatment abroad3.

The manner in which this lethal decision was taken, with even Health Ministry officials being kept in the dark, shows that it was no more than another cynical gambit in the game of evading accountability for violence against women – yet another attempt to hide from the justified anger of the thousands of citizens on the streets of Delhi who are no longer taken in by the paeans to “good governance” and “progress” trotted out by the government.

The cynicism, callousness and sheer barbarity with which the ruling establishment has handled the public protests of the last weeks matches the brutality of the rape itself and proves their complicity in creating and sustaining a ruthless social, political and economic order that subjects millions of Indian women to violence on a daily basis.

We demand a public enquiry into the decision to shift the young woman out of the country.

We demand a public acceptance of culpability by the Chief Minister of Delhi, the Prime Minister and the President.

We demand justice for the young woman whose untimely and unnecessary death we are mourning today

1 Rape Survivor airlift was Govt., not medical, decision. The Hindu, Friday December 28 2012

2 Same as in i.

3 Same as in iii


Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded grassroots effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on our women and girls by any perpetrator(s).

Comment: When I first heard of the decision to fly the rape victim to Singapore it struck me somewhat odd.

India has among the most advanced medical centers in the world and there are undoubtedly far more medical experts inside the country than just about anywhere else in the developing world.

Why then Singapore?  What did Singapore offer other than contrived political distance for the Indian government?

The decision on the face of it appears highly questionable and begs troubling questions about the possible political motivation(s) to remove the victim at a time when fierce protests were (and still are) taking place.

May the unnamed victim of this brutal crime rest in peace until that day.



Kimberly said...

This story has so disturbed me. She was treated like trash by those horrible men and then thrown away by the Indian Govern(men)t.

Shame on the Indian Government!

Here in the US we just lived through an election where the Republicans, once again, had a message of women don’t matter. It became a “War Against Women”.

Shame on the US!

When will the world take a look at how we treat each other, no matter what gender, color or creed. When will we respect one another and honor our humanism, our world.

I support the protesters in India and I support the women of the world, that we should live with out fear of violence against us because of our gender.

Ridwan said...

Thank you Kim for weighing in here on this terrible tragedy.

You raise excellent points/concerns.

It always amazes me how rape/violence against women seems so embedded in conservative political cultures (though liberal and radical politics are hardly exempt of course).

I heard a woman interviewed on Al-Jazeera today describe India as a misogynistic nation-state.

She said most Indian women face sexual abuse just trying to make their way on the streets but also more so inside of their homes.

"Abuse of women in India is a badly kept secret," she said.

I also find it interesting to note the class and caste concerns that are being discussed since this horrible incident.

Dalit women are even more at risk yet their cause is not afforded the similar attention.

Rape/sexual violence and gender discrimination is of course not unique to India.

The universal root is the system of patriarchy - and I find it troubling that conservative politics seems to think that the reasserted presence of male figures in nuclear families will 'normalize' society.

You know the usual drill: the absence of fathers and father figures explains the breakdown of families and the slippery slope into all socio-political ills.

For these folks the politics of heterosexual-male-centered everything is not a problem - it is a solution and for this reason even God is endowed with the male form. What utter nonsense.

And we are not free!

Peace to you Kim.