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TWO-MINUTE TALKING POINT - The politics of rape by Nita Bhalla

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 14 Feb 2013 11:10 AM
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"One of the common misconceptions about rape after the high profile gang rape and murder of a woman in India is that most rapists are poor, illiterate and, by and large, living on the margins of society. The six accused in this particular crime were. But that is not always the case. "
- Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation Correspondent

Every week, Thomson Reuters Foundation correspondents offer distilled insight on pressing issues. Two-Minute Talking Points bring you concise commentary from the front lines of humanitarian crises, climate change, corruption and human rights.

One of the most popular misconceptions about rape after the high profile gang rape and murder of a woman in India is that most rapists are poor, illiterate and, by and large, living on the margins of society.

In this particular crime the six accused were. But that is not always the case.

From presidents to politicians to peacekeepers, many powerful, wealthy, educated and well-respected men across the world have been associated with sexual violence against women.

These are not men from squalid slums or mud-and-brick villages, but those that sleep in palaces, who wine and dine in the world's most exclusive hotels and restaurants, who are the head global finance institutions.

These are men who make our laws, police our streets and deployed in devastated war or disaster zones like Haiti and Congo to protect the world’s most vulnerable.

They hold positions of power and influence and are entrusted by the people they govern, serve or protect.

Yet few are convicted. Many continue in positions of power, and they live with virtual impunity.

In India, where one woman is rapped every twenty minutes, it's not very different.

According to the Association of Democratic Reforms -- a Delhi-based think-tank -- 42 serving legislators have been charged with rape, sexual harassment, molestation or physical assault against women.

Yet they sit in our parliaments -- responsible for making laws on gender violence and on women's rights. Women's rights groups this has to end, the culture of impunity has go, and it is to set an example for the rest of society. Only then they say, can sexual violence against women end in not just India but across the world.

Filming: Claudine Boeglin
Editing: Shanshan Chen
Design: Ye Li

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