Rape Culture in India, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – Toronto Sun Column

“Miles to go, sisters, before we rest. Until then, we hang our heads in shame.”


March 11, 2015

RapeTarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

This year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 was marked in India by the news network NDTV showing a blank, black screen for a full one hour.

The blank screen, with only a flickering lamp in the background, was a protest against the government’s decision to ban India’s Daughter, a BBC documentary about the savage gang rape of a Delhi student in December 2012.

Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medical student along with a male friend, boarded a private bus to go home after watching a movie. Soon after, the young woman was brutally raped by five men and a juvenile on the bus, after they beat her male friend unconscious.

She later died from her injuries.

The ban on the documentary saw India divided along both gender and ideological lines.

While right-wing male backers of the government swamped social media with denunciations of the BBC and western media as anti-India, many women and the liberal left in India expressed outrage at the ban.

G. Pramod Kumar, senior editor at Firstpost.com said it best:

“It’s no secret that India has a horrible record of crime against women and that the country is the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world. Rape is one of the most common crimes against women in India and the UN human rights chief had called it a national problem.”

However, this was not the only story of its kind in the news on International Women’s Day.

Saudi Arabia

A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was gang raped by seven men in 2006 was re-sentenced by a Shariah court to 200 lashes and six months in jail.

The Saudi teen had gone to meet a male friend and was sitting in his car when two vigilante youths questioned them.

On finding out the two were not related or married, they carjacked the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area, where she was raped and her friend was assaulted.

After the 2006 rape trial the guilty men were given lenient, custodial sentences, while the rape victim was sentenced to 90 lashes.

The woman’s lawyer appealed the punishment of the rape victim to a higher Saudi court.

Instead of overturning it in recognition she was the victim of a crime, the court more than doubled her sentence.

According to the website Breitbart.com, Saudi Arabia has defended the controversial decision to punish the victim, saying she was at faul.

The report said the “charges were proven” against the woman for having been in a car with a “strange male.”


Not to be outdone, gang rapists in Pakistan upped the ante by not just raping a 23-year old woman, but also making a 40-minute video that has gone viral.

Author Rafia Zakaria, expressing her fury in the Karachi newspaper DAWN, wrote:

“(In Pakistan) it is no longer enough to gang rape a girl; it is also necessary to make a video of it. And what good is that visual record, if it is not shared with the world? The men of Pakistan await, their fingers eagerly pressing buttons and sliding over screens, goaded by insatiable appetites that crave the violation of a woman’s body. They watch it again and again, they share it with friends.”

Miles to go, sisters, before we rest. Until then, we hang our heads in shame.

7 comments for “Rape Culture in India, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – Toronto Sun Column

  1. Saurabh
    March 11, 2015 at 3:01 AM

    I would say, its a biased presumption towards India, there is no “Rape Culture” here, a culture is, when people stops objecting over an act, and that becomes part of their society’s acceptance, like ‘Bride Kidnapping’ in Kazakhstan, or Polygamy in Arabic nations etc.
    Now, if based on just 1 documentary if you are jumping to the conclusion, then I would say, we should declare all Muslims as terrorists based on few ISIS footage or all Christens as pedophile based on few news reports of child sexual abuse at Vatican, based on same logic that few rapist’s view is being generalized as whole Indian men mentality.
    With due respect sir, are you against law of the India or just this ban, because this bbc documentary violets the Supreme Court of India’s act, where you can not disclose identity of the victim until the final verdict is delivered, thus its banned in context of law, not because Govt wants to hide something. We don’t feel shame in hiding our problems sir, when this brutal incident took place in heart of India, we hit the streets, millions of people men & women came out of their home supporting the cause. We forced Indian Govt & Judiciary to act immediately on such issues. We got this rapists death penalty served(but its on hold for now due to some human right activist, but soon they’ll hanged till death).
    You might have seen only 2 defense lawyers here, uttering their nonsense & hatred for women, and you would have related that mentality to every Indian men, but none of the video makers showed Bar Council of India point of view, where all other advocates & lawyers refused to defend these rapists, they released a press note too.
    This documentary raises several doubts in my mind:
    1. I want to know, why Jyoti’s friend who was there with her at the time of this whole incident was not interviewed?
    2. Why was the most horrible, brutal rapist that 18 year old boy’s who was the 1st one to use the iron rod on victim, that Rapist’s identity was hidden, his face, even his family’s face was blurred in this documentary, when you can proudly show the details of victim, why hiding the Rapist if you are so concern about crime against women?
    3. Why showing only Rapist & his lawyers, why not taking opinion of an average Indian boy or girl on this matter, not even the views of victim’s lawyer were taken.
    4. Million of people who participated on this protest, were anonymous, they did not belong to any single political party, student union or group, then why the video claimed that this movement was started by Nehru college group, and left wing communist student union, isn’t it insult to all those millions of protesters?
    5. Why paying 40,000/- to a death convict rapist, why giving him platform to say that he is innocent when its proven in court that he did raped and mutilated victim?
    There are several questions, which makes this documentary more look like a propaganda towards India.
    We Indians are fighting our own battle to come out of this situation as soon as possible, we are doing everything to protect women & punish each criminal, nobody is silent here. Calling this country a ‘rapist’ is demotivating and an insult to all those innocent men, who are standing with their women..
    I’m disappointed with this generalization. Sorry.

  2. Imran sheikh
    March 11, 2015 at 3:08 AM

    Any violation of another human being, physical or mental, is reprehensible. Consistent action must be taken to minimise this.
    However naming a few countries is not reasonable. It is a universal problem.
    Further, your norms are your norms. Judging others by your norms is arrogant. Without a full knowledge of the facts leading to the Saudi court decision which must have been according to their laws, deriding it reeks of prejudice. Most muslim countries do not sanction sex outside marriage. The West does. Each country follows what suits it, and both views must be respected.
    Different kinds of intolerance are still intolerance.

    • Tarek S. Fatah
      March 11, 2015 at 8:22 AM


      Islamic Sharia does allow sex outside marriage. The condition to meet is that the man should be a Muslim and woman a non-Muslim.


  3. Satya Dayanand
    March 11, 2015 at 5:28 AM

    1. Even accounting for a 3x under-reporting, US/UK have higher rates of rape per 1000 pop.
    2. There is no ban on the doc, the Court order (not a Govt diktat) is to exclude the interview with the rapist – if education/awareness was the real reason, it could have been shown – but the commercial reasons for $ and TRPs needed the shock and awe factor hence NDTV and the producers created a ban from nowhere.
    3. There is a legal notice by the previous national Govt (secular, liberal and all such good things) to stop the broadcast – why was a legal notice ignored. Are legal notices issued by Western govts routinely ignored or is it that Indian Govt is “different” and its notices can be ignored when it suits you?
    4. Read this for the culture of sexual abuse in Europe: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-vaw-survey-main-results-apr14_en.pdf
    5. Pl read the statement by the only guy who was with the girl that night saying there are serious inaccuracies wit the doc.
    6. You write about 1 rape which and headline it “rape culture” – nice!!

  4. Zee
    March 11, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    Not that rape crime should be tolerated in any society or by any religion or law but evasive thoughts of ppl like this writer should be condemned, who seems to write only to derogate people of his faith living in the counties less developed than where he resides.

    Highlighting a social evil, he is forgetting that USA is at top, Canada is at number 8 and 4 other developed western nations are listed amongst the top 10 countries for recording highest incidents of this heinous crime.

    In doubt? Google it.

  5. John Scott
    March 16, 2015 at 11:28 AM

    “A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was gang raped by seven men in 2006 was re-sentenced by a Shariah court to 200 lashes and six months in jail.”

    At a loss for words.

    From Canada,

  6. Indian
    March 18, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    I would suggest you to read below
    Hope this comment won’t be deleted.

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