Feb 4, 2013
This article is reprinted from the British revolutionary press Workers’ Fight.
To date, the protests sparked by the rape of an Indian medical student in Delhi, who died from her injuries, continue. Around 10,000 demonstrated in Delhi on Sunday, December 30th. This case was especially shocking: The young woman was gang-raped and brutally bludgeoned with an iron bar, by five men in a bus, before being thrown out of the moving bus. Now there are cries for obligatory castration or even execution of the rapists.
The real issue, however, is not what to do with rapists, but what to do about a supposedly “modern” society where women are not just second class (as is still the case in the richest countries!), but are often treated as subhuman.
Like many poor countries, India combines the class injustices of a “modern” capitalist society with an old caste system from feudal society. This caste system is still alive in impoverished rural areas from which most of the recently urbanized population comes. Women are caught in the middle of these two systems of oppression, with the complicity (if not active involvement) of the politicians, police and judiciary.
The figures speak for themselves. In Haryana (the state surrounding Delhi), which is both one of the country’s richest states and one of its most industrialized, 19 low-caste girls were gang-raped in September 2012 alone. The monthly average is around 20. And that is a monthly average of rape repeated every month. A 16-year old was gang-raped by a dozen men also in September. They filmed the act and circulated the video. The girl’s father committed suicide.
Connected to this violence against women is the resurgence of the practice of killing female babies – shown by the worsening of the female to male sex ratio to as low as 774 per 1,000 in some districts of Haryana. This is not an image that fits well with the modern, “emerging” economy promoted by India’s ruling classes. But this is the cost of class exploitation.
Throughout history, the degree of women’s oppression has reflected the degree of social oppression in the whole of society. It is the task of the Indian working class, together with the Western working class, to end the system that keeps caste and gender oppression alive – the divisive, inequitable, capitalist, class system in India and everywhere else.