Tapping into the Outrage over the Gang Rape in a South Asian Neighborhood

January 20, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From readers in Chicago:

In India and in other parts of the world demonstrations have been cracking open the deep wounds and defiance around the brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman in India. The fury has unleashed righteous anger, with both men and women taking part, over this horrific crime. This has raised big questions around both the problem and solution to the whole war on women which reaches back centuries to the rise of private property and the enforcement of the patriarchy. This is an earthquake and its tremors are being felt around the world. We needed to be out in the streets talking to people; building resistance to the war on women as part of building a movement for revolution. We can’t stop till all women and humanity are free of the vicious chains of tradition, exploitation and patriarchy.

Over the weekend of Jan 13, two of us went out to Devon Ave, a primarily an Indian and Pakistani neighborhood in Chicago to get out the recent issue of Revolution newspaper on the rape and murder of a young Indian woman. We were also getting out the recent statement from End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement & Degradation of Women and call to go to DC to take on the attack against women at the anniversary of Roe V. Wade.

We got out 35 papers, 5 of them going into an Indian bookstore. Everyone we met had thoughts on why this horrific rape happened as well as solutions. Overall there was outrage at what had been done. It was on everyone’s mind. This ranged from small shopkeepers to Indian men and woman, as well as white people and their families shopping up in the Devon neighborhood. People had been following the rape and the response closely, and some of the women thanked us for coming up. Among the younger women there was a sense of, as one said, "We need to do something!" She asked us to please come back when her aunt will donate more money for the paper, and she underscored once again that something must be done.

Another woman said she would take the paper to a local community college and get it the hands of her professor. She was immediately asked if we could come to her class and speak about what the Stop Patriarchy initiative was doing and taking on the attacks against women’s right to abortion. She said that it would be good to have a debate with her professor who is not very enlightened on the question of abortion. She said the atmosphere was very suffocating and that we needed to break things open. Another young student spoke of immigrant women in prison and the horrific conditions and attacks they faced. Through all this you got a real feel for what it means to “fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.”

We asked people what they thought should be done about this war on women and in particular rape. The range of responses included people who felt that stricter laws would be the answer—that would make men think twice—and that people needed to be educated, and once that occurred things could get better. One Indian man felt that Islam was the answer, that they treat women with respect; he got into how women need to dress more appropriate especially at night, maybe not go out. We told him that half of humanity is being raped and degraded – and that this flowed from the patriarchy and male supremacy and what humanity needs is a communist revolution. He thought for a moment and then went back into how he thought people themselves have to change and then life would be better. He got the paper, and as I left a number of the men in the store came over to check it out.

Some women who knew little English smiled when they bought the paper—there was something simmering under their veils and headdresses. A young white woman grabbed the paper and a handful of fliers as she jumped on the bus and promised to get them out and write us. Another woman and her daughters stopped to talk. One daughter was going to India soon and the other daughter had written a paper on the sex trade in Guatemala. They said they would check out the paper and fliers.

We stayed about two hours walking in and out of shops talking to people on the street. If we had stayed longer it’s no telling how much more we could have done. The potential is huge, as well as the struggle over the problem and solution. The rape in India has put a face on the war on women globally, and we have a real responsibility to humanity to not only take this on but to dig deeply at the roots of patriarchy and pull them up by the roots through building a movement for revolution.

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