The swift action is an attempt to answer critics who say that official response to rape in India has historically been slow, tepid, and ineffective. Some 95,000 rape cases are currently pending in Indian courts, according to the BBC, and in the capital, where sexual assaults are at a record high, only 1 of the 635 rape cases filed last year has resulted in a conviction to date.
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Last week, in New Delhi, India, news stories of a horrific gang rape spread quickly, igniting widespread outrage. A 23 year old woman was attacked by six men on a moving bus and brutalized for 45 minutes, in the most recent and alarming of several high-profile incidents. Protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the growing incidence of rape, and its slow and ineffective prosecution. Riot police have responded, dispersing crowds with forceful tactics including water cannons, batons, and tear gas. India’s government has now ordered a special inquiry into the incident to identify any negligence or errors on the part of police.
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We cannot reduce the ignorance of people like Mourdock and Akin to sound bites or place it in the category of election-season inanity. Their statements are the toxic runoff of our culture’s failure to prevent and address sexual violence in all its forms. The statistics stun: The high estimate of the number of women raped each year in the United States is 1.3 million, 54 percent of rapes are unreported, and a woman’s chance of being raped is one in five. The president’s elementary stance is nice but won’t fix anything on its own; what must change is the culture itself.
Given its well-documented and inexcusable problems with sexism, hip-hop might not seem a wise place to look to start making that change. But that fact actually makes the medium more ripe for reformers. Moreover, as one of the dominant, storytelling-driven art forms consumed and made by young people, rap provides a way for survivors and allies to testify, argue, and change hearts and minds. And as a song released this past week by the promising young rapper Angel Haze proves, rap’s potential as a weapon against rape culture isn’t merely academic.
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To argue that the female body has the means to ‘shut that whole thing down,’ or that the torture of women is somehow divinely sanctioned takes more than just an accident of biology. It takes the ability to speak about things of which you are ignorant as though you are informed. It takes unacknowledged blindness.
It takes an appetite for cruelty."
Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, an Indiana Republican, turned a few heads and dropped a few jaws on Tuesday night when he said that pregnancies resulting from rape were “something that God intended to happen.” It happened during a debate between Mourdock and his opponent, Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly and did not go unnoticed. Another thing that did not go unnoticed was the ad featuring Mitt Romney endorsing Mourdock that dropped earlier this week. It was the first such endorsement Romney’s made for a Republican candidate, and it may or may not still be valid.
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Rep. Todd Akin appeared to be on his own in the controversy over his abortion and rape comments, but fellow Congressman Steve King has also put his foot in it after saying he’s never heard of a woman getting pregnant because of statutory rape or incest. Like Akin, Iowa’s King supported a House bill in 2011 that would have banned federal funding for abortion and would not have included an exemption for just those sorts of cases.
In an interview on Monday, he suggested such an exemption wouldn’t be necessary because he’s never heard of such a thing happening. ”Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” King told KMEG-TV Monday, “and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”
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Mitt Romney distanced himself Monday from embattled Missouri Rep. Todd Akin over the Republican senate candidate’s assertion that “legitimate rape” causes women to “shut down” conception.
“He should understand that his words with regards to rape are not words that I can defend, that we can defend, or that we can defend him,” Romney told WMUR during a campaign swing through New Hampshire.
But this isn’t the first time a member of the Republican Big Tent has asserted this, and in 2007 presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought and won the endorsement of the man who has since the mid-1980s promoted the scientifically baseless idea that rape doesn’t lead to pregnancy, Dr. John C. Willke.
Hailing him as “The Father Of The Pro-Life Movement” and “an important surrogate for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda,” the Romney for President campaign in 2007 welcomed Willke’s endorsement.
I have the right to objectively define pregnancy from rape as rare. I have the right to determine separate legitimate rape from all those instances when you were in need of encouragement, wearing a red dress or otherwise asking for it. I have the right to manufacture scientific theories about your body — theories which reinforce my power. If the body doesn’t ‘shut that whole thing down’ then clearly you weren’t raped, and there’s no need to talk about an abortion. And even if I am wrong on every count, I still have the right to dictate the terms of your body and the remaining days of your life.
All of my rationales range from the totally subjective to the outright mythical. But I am the sovereign of the female body. On my word rumor becomes science, and the destruction of your life is repackaged as the defense of someone else’s."
Here we go again. Trotting out the contemporary equivalent of the early American belief that only witches float, Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, told a local Missouri station in an interview that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin said in an interview with KTVI-TV that caused a furor online Sunday afternoon after being posted on TPM. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” […]
Akin’s comments were hardly some kind never-before-heard gaffe. Arguments like his have cropped up again and again on the right over the past quarter century and the idea that trauma is a form of birth control continues to be promulgated by anti-abortion forces that seek to outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. The push for a no-exceptions anti-abortion policy has for decades gone hand in hand with efforts to downplay the frequency with which rape- or incest-related pregnancies occur, and even to deny that they happen, at all. In other words, it’s not just Akin singing this tune.