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Thursday 19 December 2013

Book Review: Crimes against Women

About the book:

As 2012 came to a close, news of the gang rape of a young woman in India’s capital generated headlines around the world. Her assault on a moving bus with a metal rod, and her death two weeks later from her injuries, focused attention on the dark side of the world’s largest democracy: the struggle that faces many Indian women in a country where chauvinistic and misogynistic attitudes prevail. The Wall Street Journal’s India bureau explored this horrendous crime and others that explore the experience of Indian women in the 21st century. The reporting in all the stories stands out for its gripping detail and its emotional pull. In many cases, central figures involved in these everyday dramas were speaking for the first time.
The book begins with the story of a Catholic nun murdered in rural India as she tried to preserve ancient tribal ways in the face of mining expansion, while also coming to the aid of a woman who had allegedly been raped.
Next is a riveting account of a young woman from rural Bihar who was duped into moving to Delhi, where she was forced to marry or go into prostitution -- and the disaster for her and her family that ensued. The woman broke her long-held silence to speak to the WSJ about what happened.
The book ends with the WSJ’s world-beating coverage of the New Delhi rape case, including intimate portraits of the victim and her friend who tried to save her but couldn’t. He granted the WSJ intimate and exclusive access to tell his side of the story.

About the author:

Paul Beckett is Asia Editor of The Wall Street Journal. From 2007 until April, he ran the WSJ's South Asia Bureau.
Krishna Pokharel is a New Delhi-based reporter with the WSJ. He writes on social issues.

My review:

We've all been acutely aware of the rising graph of crimes against women. This compilation from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) assimilates three of the most gruesome, horrifyingly horrendous cases of barbaric bestiality shown against the fairer sex.
WSJ has done a commendable job by exposing some grim facts about the three cases: The Murder of Sister Valsa, Falak: the true story of India's baby, and the achingly unfortunate case of the Delhi Bus Rape.
The whole outcome of reading these accounts is that these are so sensitively reported that one cannot help but feel moved, even shocked to one's heart's core. These have been terrible tragedies, and sadly we have made them a part of our history, a despicable abhorrent history nevertheless. Gender-bias has always been embedded in the matrix of Indian society which may superficially wear the cloak of modernity, but still remains a highly son-worshiping land and son-worshiping people.

The case of the murder of sister Valsa is not just an account of how the ruthless demise and departure of Sister Valsa left a girl crippled for life, but also a sad commentary of the brutality which “influential” people exercise, the apathy of those in power.

The case of Baby Falak is yet another horrendous account of possibly all kinds and dimensions of oppression those females, of all ages, may be subjected to. It depicts how women can be deceived by promises of a bright life, which ironically translates into hell the moment they enter the trap, and the depiction is raw, uncut. The fate of Baby Falak shook the entire nation.

Then is an account of the December 16 Rape case. The case which actually gripped the entire nation, bringing life to a standstill, it counts each moment: when we were praying for the girl to get well, the media was having endless discourse on women's issues, social media was inundated with countless prayers for the victim, curses for the accused.

The book harbours a photo gallery too, which apart from its functional act of capturing the eerie effervescence, also adds to the overall poignancy.
From an objective point of view, it would only be justified to demand another, more comprehensive volume from WSJ on the unfortunate cases of 2013, giving their opinions on it too.
While on one hand this is a factual account, no alterations or modifications, thereby laying bare reality in its harsh form, there is a space for including the heated deliberations and debates that ensued so as to better bring to the fore the horrendous crimes, the misogynistic attitudes and the chauvinistic bent of mind.

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