Womens ‘Red Brigades’ confronts India sex abuse


Group of Delhi women enforces its own vigilante style of justice, even using physical intimidation against harassers.

The December 16 gang-rape in Delhi sparked protests across the country and opened India’s eyes to atrocities committed against women and girls on a daily basis.

The demonstrations and media scrutiny forced the government to respond. It drew up a new sexual offences bill that updated the archaic piece of judiciary that once constituted as laws to protect women.

The police also came in the spotlight, partly for their failings in investigating the violence. But more importantly, for an issue that is prevalent across the country – refusal to register complaints of sexual assault. INDIA-WOMEN-CRIME-RAPE-SOCIETY

Delhi police is trying to do something to address the situation. They are implementing reforms which authorities hope will sensitise their officers. But what’s most apparent is that any change will take years, and there is no interest in changing how India’s police operate in the rest of the country’s states.

The reality is, little has changed for Indian women and girls. Aside from a media far more willing to expose sexual attacks on minors, females aren’t any safer, or any more likely to get justice.

For one group though, there has been a transformation in the past few months.

Usha Vishwakarma, a 25-year-old teacher in a slum area, started Red Brigade after her colleague tried to rape her. She managed to escape, but when she tried to report th incident, she was told by her school and the police to stop making a fuss. She later found out that almost all her students had been sexually abused. They faced anything from daily harassment, like cat calls and molestation, to rape. She realised that the community preferred to remain silent, and the police weren’t interested in taking any action.

Instead the victims’ parents would pull their daughters out of school to keep them “safe”.

The Red Brigade started off as a group that enforced its own vigilante style of justice. If a girl or a woman was assaulted in any way, the group would confront the perpetrator. If he didn’t respond, they would tell his parents and family, and if that didn’t have any impact, they would use physical intimidation. All the Red Brigade girls are trained in martial arts.india-international-womens-day-2-390x285

Here’s the transformation I mentioned earlier: When they started, they received little recognition. In fact they were ostracised and called “Call girls” and other demeaning names. Mothers would warn their daughters to stay away from the group, while men, intimidated by them, would spread nasty rumours about them. But since December, when in India it was suddenly OK to talk about sexual abuse, the Red Brigade has been elevated from a gang of slum women looking to cause trouble, to empowered women who can help their community. In fact just a couple of weeks ago they won a national bravery award.

And rightly so. The group has grown, and to their credit, they’ve managed to get dozens of girls back into schools. They’ve drilled into their low-cast low- income community that girls are important, and taught them that they deserve justice if they are attacked in any way.

Boys and men in their slum in Madiyav, are now more wary of harassing their neighbours. In fact, according to the group, the number of assaults and molestations have decreased.

Usha wants to take her message further. She wants other communities to adopt their model of empowering females. And it seems there is much interest.

All the members of the Red Brigade are planning to continue their education. They plan to be doctors, lawyers, and policewomen, but ultimately members of society – women who can fend for themselves and give back to their community.

Two Red Brigade members tell their stories:rape_protest_1_20130114

Lakshmi, 16
When eve teasing in our area started to increase, we didn’t know what to do. If we complained, we’d be told to stay home and stop our education, which we did not want. So some of us got together and we found out that it’s happening to all of us. We decided we should stand together against the boys that were demeaning us. If the police were receptive, strong and powerful we would not have needed our group to fight against the molestation.

Pinky, 17

When I was in 9th grade, my school principal tried to touch me while pretending to teach me to tie my tie. He was known for touching other girls, too, but when they told their parents they were taken out of school. I told Usha about this as I didn’t want to be pulled out of school. She confronted the principal. But he stayed, and I had to leave the school. I ended up doing my board exams on my own.

Showing 4 comments

  • Ping2

    All Indian men are disgraced by these actions of the (relatively) few. If they want to restore their dignity in the eyes of the world they (the men) should stand up and support the women against those who do not respect them. Every Indian man has a mother and perhaps sisters. Stand up for them, because every Indian woman is someone’s mother or sister.
    Or are all the men of India cowards?

  • psihota

    Using the term “eve teasing” should be stopped in India, they should call it what it truly is, sexual harassment.

  • Kimba25

    Advance Indian women & girls, stand up and fight this important fight, I am not Indian but I worked with some Indian men, so I know a bit about them. They will change but to change an entrenched culture, you have to break the circuit & shock the system. Freedom is not free, we have to be strong, united we stand as a human race, look at Western democracy in a mess now.  I am from Sydney, Australia.

  • devans00 Geekette

    Nice empowering story. So sad society places so little value on the safety and well being of a large portion of their citizens, women & girls.


    20 Horrific Cases Up To December 2012

    • 1973: Aruna Shaunbag: A junior nurse at King Edward Memorial hospital in Mumbai, tied with a dog chain, assaulted and raped by a ward boy. She lost her eyesight and has been in a vegetative state since. SC turns down mercy killing.
    • 1978: Geeta and Sanjay Chopra were kidnapped for ransom in Delhi in the infamous Ranga-Billa kidnapping case. The culprits raped Geeta before killing them both.
    • 1982: Tulasa Thapa, a 12-year-old Nepali girl, was repeatedly raped before being sold into prostitution. Ten months later, she was brought to JJ Hospital in Mumbai where she died of brain tuberculosis and three sexually transmitted diseases.
    • 1990: A 14-year-old school girl was raped at her residence in Calcutta and killed by a security guard. Dhananjoy Chatterjee was executed in August 2004, the country’s first hanging since 1995.
    • 1996: A 16-year-old girl was sexually harassed and assaulted continuously for 40 days by 42 men in Kerala. In 2000, a special court sentenced 35 persons to rigorous imprisonment but the Kerala High Court acquitted them in 2005.
    • 1996: 25-year-old law student Priyadarshini Mattoo was found raped and murdered at her house in Delhi. Ten years later, the Delhi High Court found Santosh Kumar Singh guilty.
    • 1999: The estranged wife of an Indian Forest Service officer, Anjana Mishra’s car was stopped at a desolate place on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. She was gangraped in front of the friend she was travelling with.
    • 2002: A fourth-year medical student was gangraped at knifepoint on the terrace of the Khooni Darwaza monument situated on the busy Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in the capital.
    • 2003: Shari S. Nair, a teenaged girl hailing from Kiliroor, Kottayam, Kerala, was sexually abused after being promised roles in TV serials. Shari later died after giving birth to a daughter.
    • 2004: 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama was tortured and allegedly executed by personnel of the paramilitary force of 17 Assam Rifles stationed in Manipur, after being picked up from her house.
    • 2005: 28-year-old Imrana was raped by her father-in-law in Uttar Pradesh. The village elders and Sharia courts nullified her marriage saying her husband was now her son.
    • 2005: A Delhi University student was gangraped by four men inside a Santro for several hours and dumped in south Delhi, unconscious and without clothes.
    • 2009: Two young women were raped and murdered in Jammu under mysterious circumstances, allegedly by CRPF personnel. One of them was two months pregnant at the time.
    • 2010: A 30-year-old BPO employee was raped by five men near her home in south Delhi. The woman was pulled into a mini truck, raped repeatedly and thrown out two hours later.p.php
    • 2011: A nine-year-old mentally disabled girl was raped on a Mumbai train in front of five other passengers. The child could not scream or shout or speak because she was disabled.
    • Feb 2012: A 37-year-old woman was gangraped in a car on Calcutta’s Park Street after coming out of a bar. Mamata Banerjee first said the case was cooked up to embarrass her government.
    • Dec 2012: An eighteen-month-old baby, the daughter of pavement dwellers, was found by her mother one morning covered in blood. Doctors said she had been raped and tortured.
    • Dec 2012: A two-year-old was raped, allegedly by her maternal uncle, and thrown into a thorny bush in Baroda, Gujarat. She died after being taken to the hospital.
    • Dec 26, 2012: A 20-year-old woman was allegedly gangraped by 10 people on the banks of Manimuktha river near Virudhachalam in Tamil Nadu, according to police.

    By Amba Batra Bakshi and Chandrani Banerjee with Prachi Pinglay-Plumber and Prarthna Gahilote in Mumbai, Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow, Madhavi Tata in Hyderabad and Dola Mitra in Calcutta
    source: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?283458eve_teasing_sexual_harassment_india_nepal_rising-culture-in-delhi

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