In Auroville there are a lot of organizations working in different ways with the empowerment of women. We have visited a few of these during the first few intense days. We visited AVAG (Auroville Village Action Group), an organization that works with women from neighboring villages helping them through micro finance. Another organization that is actively involved with women’s empowerment is Naturellement, a jam company and coffee shop that almost only employs women. A third organization is WELL paper (Women’s Empowerment Through Local Livelyhoods) which is a social enterprise offering both employment and training for groups of self employed women.
Martina (in the pink shirt) – the woman who opened Naturellement and mainly employs women
Mother India, as this wonderful country is referred to, is ironically very patriarchal. I don’t think that there is anyone that missed what happened here, exactly a year ago. A terrible rape took place in New Delhi where a 23 year old girl was gang raped and afterwards thrown of a moving bus. On the 29th of December she died from her injuries.
A year has gone by and one can only hope that India turned this awful event into some kind of collective will to change. In Auroville they might be on to something, but what about in New Delhi where girls can’t go on a bus without being molested?
In a Swedish newspaper they did a big spread on India one year after the rape. In this article they wrote that what is needed here in India and all over the world is a change in attitude. There must be a change from the government’s side and from the society as a whole. This unfortunately has not yet taken place in India, nor in the rest of the world for that matter.
In New Delhi after the rape thousands of people went out on the streets to protest. A couple of weeks after her death India passed a few new but controversial laws to deter violence against women. Rape now leads to a seven-year minimum sentence, with the death penalty for those cases where the victim dies.
You can kill one hundred or one thousand or even one million rapists, but the structural issues will remain. As long as politicians keep making degrading statements like “women should not go out after dark” and “they should not be wearing western clothing” we are back where we started. If we have governments or policemen with these sorts of values neither Indian nor Sweden, one of the worlds most equal country, will ever achieve equality.
Demonstrations in New Delhi after the rape of a 23 year old female student.
– Sofie Stensman, Linnaeus University