Women / Rape

womenThis article on gang rape in India (while shocking and infuriating) offers an analysis that would have a broader slice of society — than just the men perpetuating the rape — held responsible… this broader slice would invariably stretch beyond national borders and include multi-national commerce as an actant. The article and recent media coverage, make me think about Egypt’s sexual assault epidemic where a similar analysis would need consider 40 years of clientelism by the US.  It makes me think of places like Darfur in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo where rape was/is commonly used as a weapon of war, yet for which observers (researchers, aid workers, etc) can generally identify an escalation point (or period) around which permission or orders were given to attack women as a tactic of proxy warfare.  I’m reminded of how speaking out against sexual assault can lead back to assault, as was a Chinese performance artist’s recent experience. If this is a phenomenon, what does that mean for our humanity .. no matter where we are in the world?  Does it confirm Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) thoughts on the state of nature?  While it is hard to argue differently, I certainly hope not.

Last week at a conference in Canada on the role of art in peace and social justice philanthropy, a participant shared this data visualization, which also cuts right to the quick.

I use this picture because it reminds me of being an overwhelmed traveler in Mumbai, India (2004) and finding my way onto a women’s car because I couldn’t physically figure out how to get into the overflowing men’s car with the train already moving.  I remember not knowing what to do .. wondering if I should jump back off .. and then being allowed to stay.

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