I traveled to India in 2012 during the height of the US media frenzy surrounding multiple gang rapes in Delhi. It shaped how I saw the country and the people in it, and planted a deep, undeserved bias and a fear and anger that still smolders inside me. A 2016 report from the World Health Organization analyzed violence against women worldwide. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/) and the facts are just as disturbing as the intimate details of each woman who is brutally violated. 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide are violated physically and/or sexually in their lifetime. Stop and think about that. Look at your sisters, and daughters, and mother . . . 1 in 3. And for those of us sitting on our lofty high-horse of a developed country, step right on down. We are covered in it. . . . The actual statistics are the Americas 29.8%, Africa 36.6%, South-East Asia 37.7%. Cut the data by income, and high income regions are still a staggering 23.2%; 1 in 4. If 1 in 4 men were violently sodomized in the US, we would be having a conversation, and passing laws, and prosecuting the perpetrators. But we're not. We still blame the victim, and rationalize the violent act, and leave the victims to suffer alone.
The first step is to climb down from our first-world high-horse and recognize that we have an epidemic, and talk about it. Talk about the statistics; talk about the rapists that are not appropriately punished; talk about the fact that we put the responsibility on young girls and not on young men, 'don't wear short skirts or sexy tops. Don't drink too much. Don't walk home alone.' Talk about the fact that women are still objectified daily, and that men don't hold other men accountable for their 'locker room talk.'
At least start the conversation . . . that is step one.
Exhibited at the Orange County Fair 2013.
We are in Varanasi, the holy Hindu city. The country is indescribable. The dichotomy of chaos and peacefulness is like nothing I've ever seen. We've just watched the sunrise over the river and watched the devout Hindus take their ritual sunrise pujas at the banks. The cows wander the streets freely and as the taxis and rickshaws and Tuk tuks zoom by, everyone seems to know their own method within the madness. We've found our own rhythm amongst the chaos and are settling into the adventure.
Exhibited at the Orange County Fair 2013