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India gang rape spurs national dialogue

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Beyond the law, what needs to happen, writes Shilpa Phadke, author of a book on women’s safety in Mumbai, has to do with how Indians use their streets: “We are safer when there are more women (and more men) on the streets. When shops are open, when restaurants are open, when there are hawkers and yes, even sex workers on the street, the street is a safer space for us all.”

The outrage that this case has spurred might finally bring about a cultural change in India, Stephanie Nolen of The Globe and Mail suggests in a report: 

Women assaulted leaving bars or late at night or while wearing Western clothes have been chastised by police, judges and politicians for bringing their misfortune on themselves. This time, however, there is a current of defiance in the protests, noted Subhashini Ali of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. A young woman in central Delhi on Tuesday carried a sign saying, “Stop telling me how to dress, start telling your sons not to rape.”

But rape is still not seen as a men’s issue, Ms. Ali said. “I don’t think many people are asking that question yet [of how men are being brought up and how it shapes their attitude toward rape].”

“But that’s where we have to go.”

And that should start with using sexual education in schools as a means to counter systemic patriarchal attitudes, writes Ketaki Chowkhani in Kafila, a collaborative blog that I work with.

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