Can India's Military Veterans Join the Fight for Women's Rights?


'Respect for women is an ingrained part of the military code of conduct and is a value instilled when one joins the military.' Photograph: Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The brutal gang rape and killing of Jyoti Singh in Dehli in 2012 propelled India into international headlines and sparked nationwide protests. The barbarity of the act outraged millions. But four years on, numerous shocking incidents of rapes in India continue to horrify the world. Delhi has earned the dishonourable title of "rape capital", and there is still no let-up: the number of rapes committed in the city is increasing, according to national crime records.

In two separate recent incidents, girls as young as two and five years old were raped in Delhi. And in another horrifying episode in Uttar Pradesh in March 2016 a mother was gang raped in front of her three-year-old, and her two-week-old infant killed.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, an average of 92 women are raped in India every day. A survey compiled by the Thomson Reuters Foundation lists the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Somalia as the five worst states for women's rights in descending order.

India's minister of women and child welfare, Maneka Gandhi, says: "Every day around 2,000 girls are killed in the womb or immediately after birth in India." The violence and inequality continues with 40% of the world's child marriages happening in India.

As an Indian I say this with deep sadness, that our society is marked by patriarchy, misogyny and treatment of its women and girls as second-class citizens. Successive national and state governments, the judiciary and civil society have tried but are unable to safeguard women and girls.

Can India's military veterans join the fight for women's rights?

The answer is yes and these are entirely my personal views.

Here is my perspective in the Guardian. (hyperlink)