Say Her Name

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At first we didn’t know her name.

Uranus, the planet of freedom, had just made a direct station at the New Moon in December. Three days later a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was tortured and gang raped on a bus in India, after which she and her male companion were thrown to the street and left for dead.

On Dec 25th and 26th, as the Sun squared Uranus, she clung to life in a Singapore hospital. She died on the 29th, when the Sun had moved into exact conjunction with Pluto (domination and control, taboos, shame).

Her martyrdom is an unprecedented threat to the conspiracy of silence that has surrounded such crimes for thousands of years in India and patriarchal cultures everywhere. Pluto, planetary governor of the crime that dare not speak its name, is being provoked by Uranus to not only speak it but to shout it out from the rooftops.

 

Just as it had ignited the Arab Spring two Decembers earlier, the Cardinal square, with the power of that extraordinary solstice behind it, provoked a global uproar. In the days immediately after the attack, as the Sun moved into orb of Uranus (uprisings), thousands of protesters denouncing violence against women filled the streets of New Delhi and around the globe. Another aspect of the dying Capricorn order — Old-World misogyny — has provoked a cri de coeur for all the world to hear.

In the year that has just passed, rape jumped into the center of public discussion in the USA, as well; though in this country it was in the national dialect of bottom-of-the-barrel Christian buffoonery. Rick Santorum extolled “the right approach” to rape being acceptance of “God’s gift;” former doctor Ron Paul cautioned us to determine “if it was an honest rape;” and legislator Todd Aikin offered up his arcane theory about a rape victim’s biological ability to protect herself from pregnancy by “shut[ting] that whole thing down.” In France, the lawyer for aristocratic rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn put himself on a par with his despicable client by declaring “I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other woman.”

But it makes symbolic sense that this epitomical tragedy took place in India, a land of profoundly entrenched extremes. Home of the world’s most exquisite and ancient spiritual teachings, Mother India is also the locus of some of the most hideous gynophobic brutality in the world: sex-selective abortion, dowry murders, child-sale prostitution and an institution of domestic abuse that goes almost completely unpunished.

One lunar cycle has passed since the attack in mid-December. The event is now in its second phase. Reactionaries in India are threatened by the mass outrage that has arisen; no doubt feeling similarly to the way their great-grandfathers felt when modernity had the gall to interfere with suttee, that quaint custom whereby healthy young widows were burned to death upon their husbands’ funeral pyres.

Like his American counterparts, the provincial Hindu leader Asaram Bapu cloaked his reaction in religiosity when he denounced the murdered woman for not warding off her attackers by chanting the right mantra. A lawyer for three of the defendants declared that respectable women in India are not raped (thus inadvertently identifying the problem: the victim was not able-to-be-respected).

But the event and its aftermath are shaking the scaffolding of taboo that has enabled this most Plutonian of crimes. Rape is not about sex, but violence and power; and for a victim to report it is the exception, not the rule. Herein lies the key to the revolutionary significance of this particular crime: People are talking about it.

Just before January’s New Moon brought the first chapter of this story to an end, the young woman’s father fired a salvo at centuries’ worth of deadly silence with a few simple words. “I want the world to know that my daughter’s name is Jyoti Singh,” he said.

 

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3 comments
ellenofwales
ellenofwales

I totally like that rape is being exposed. I was drugged and gang raped in college here in the USA and there were no charges to be filed, no one would do anything. In fact I did not speak of it for 15 years when I finally was in therapy for other experiences. It was, after all, 'my fault.' Thank Heaven I know different now.

Sarah
Sarah

As Venus conjuncts Pluto I am remembering Jyoti Singh and all those who remain nameless. Thanks for the beautiful article woven from pain. I cried at the end. It is to all of us to continue to spin insight and change, like gold from bloody straw.

Nan
Nan like.author.displayName 1 Like

As the granddaughter of a child widow, and the neice of the victim of a dowry murder, and as a strong feminist, I can tell you that the only thing that will change women's silence is when working Indian women earn enough to choose not to marry, are favored rather than abused by inheritance laws and experience economic independence as a reasonably attainable choice.