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Indian families go to drastic measures to protect daughters from rape

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ever since a medical student was brutally gang raped on a speeding bus in Delhi, India, the Indian media has reported on countless other instances of girls and young women being abducted, raped, tortured and killed. Father-led families here have sought to curtail this by severely limiting their daughter's movements and new, strict rules of behavior.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Some of the stricter measures now being practiced by Indian families are preventing their daughters from attending school, attending colleges far away from home, forbidding them to wear Western-styled clothing such as blue jeans and using cell phones. Still other families are pushing them into marriage before they reach the age of 18.

The statistics for violence against Indian women are especially grim. There have been 48,338 child rape cases were recorded in India from 2001 to 2011, and the number rose 336 percent over that period, according to the Asian Center for Human Rights.

"These are only the tip of the iceberg as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported to the police while children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault too," the report states.

The Delhi gang rape coupled with the resulting protests has opened up a "Pandora's Box" of crimes against women in India. The public is beseeching the government to make a slew of promises and pledges to tackle crimes against women and girls.

Among the slew of harrowing new report is the case of a four-year-old girl in central India dying after two men allegedly used chocolate to lure her from where she was playing outside her village home to rape her. In addition, a five-year-old girl in New Delhi was tortured and raped by her neighbor. Doctors said a candle and part of a bottle was used during the assault.

In an especially shameful footnote to that case, officers tried to bribe the victim's family with $36 not to file a complaint. Video footage showed another officer slapping a female demonstrator.

Six village councils in northern Haryana state declared that some 400 teenage girls would no longer attend school after reports that local youths were harassing some on their way home. Sadly, removing girls from school in order to protect them is not new in rural India.

The education of girls in India has been impeded, with many rural girls pulled out of school when they reach adolescence and forced to marry as child brides. In some villages, girls have been banned from carrying mobiles and wearing jeans by village leaders who believe this will stop them attracting and mingling with unsavory men.

"My daughter is now turning 15 and I don't know what to do. I don't want her to stay in Delhi because it is so dangerous now." One concerned father says. "I don't want her to stay in Delhi because it is so dangerous now and I have been thinking about sending her back to my village to stay with my parents. She can go to school there."

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