Epidemic of Violence Against Women – Selective Focus of Ford Foundation & NYT IndiaInk?

This week we read that Nigella Lawson, the celebrity British chef who was publicly grabbed by the throat by her husband, has agreed to a speedy divorce. This news reminded us of an ABC News segment about that incident and of an article by Ford Foundation’s India Representative in New York Times India Ink blog.

The segment on June 16, 2013 by Lama Hasan of ABC News, had impressed us both for its calm reporting of the above incident and for its broader perspective. As Ms. Hasan said in her report:

  • “This incident now focuses a light on an epidemic that normally takes place in the shadows. Staggering statistics from the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women claim,
    • A Woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds,
    • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States,
    • 3 women die at the hands of abusers daily.”

These statistics shocked us. We have known and read that violence against women was as common in the US, as it is in UK, India and other parts of the world. But it was absolutely shocking to hear that a woman is assaulted or beaten in America every 9 seconds.

This has never been reported, at least never with this clarity, by New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters or any of the other publications that we read or follow via their tweets. We have never read these facts from NGOs like New York based Human Rights Watch. We also checked the website of Ford Foundation, a large organization that prides itself on “Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide“. We could not find even a mention about violence against American women on the Ford Foundation website. 

Kudos to Ms. Lama Hasan and to ABC News for providing the broader perspective in their coverage.

1. Selective Focus at Ford Foundation?

The day after we watched the above ABC News segment we saw an article in the New York Times India Ink titled As Rape Reports Increase in Delhi, a Call for Uncommon Men and Women. The article was written by Kavita Nandini Ramdas, the representative of Ford Foundation for India, Nepal & Sri Lanka.

This article began with the rape-murder of the 23-year old Delhi woman in December 2012. The second paragraph provided statistics about rape cases in Delhi. The third paragraph was:

  • “A woman is raped every six minutes in the United States, and across the globe one in every three women has experienced violence. The persecuted are not an ethnic minority, or a racial group, or a religious sect; they simply had the “misfortune” of being born inside female bodies.”

We were encouraged when we read this paragraph. Finally, an article, we thought, that discusses the global violence against women, violence that occurs just because they were “born inside female bodies”

Remember this article was dated June 17, 2013, just a day or two after the Nigella Lawson case. This article was written well after the very well publicized case in Cleveland, Ohio, in which 3 women were kept in captivity for a dozen years and raped. Based on the above paragraph by Ms. Ramdas about women being assaulted globally, we expected a real discussion about violence against women in America & in India, including the Cleveland case and at least a line about the Nigella Lawson case.

We were disappointed. The article by Ford Foundation’s Ramdas went on to exclusively focus on rape cases in India. In fact, her entire discussion revolved around history of rape cases in India. All the photographs in her article are about Indians and she titled her article “As Rape Reports Increase in Delhi .”

As we wrote this article, we checked the main Ford Foundation website and saw that the above month-old article by their Indian representative was the first article in their “In the News” Section. But the New York based Ford Foundation makes absolutely no mention of sexual assaults against American women in America.

This is just as true of New York based Human Rights Watch, an organization funded by Ford Foundation. The HRW website makes absolutely no mention of sexual violence against American women in America.

American women assaulted or beaten up every 9 seconds, 3 American women dying every day at the hands of their abusers and America’s self-proclaimed Human Rights organizations and self-congratulatory Social Foundations don’t even bother to mention that violence?

Guess ‘changing society’ doesn’t begin at home for the Ford Foundation.

2. Our Experience with Ford Foundation

We used to have a good opinion about Ford Foundation without, frankly, knowing much about it. We assumed, perhaps naively, that the people at Ford Foundation would be interested in a serious discussion about all aspects of unequal treatment of genders & gender bias. So we contacted the office of Luis Ubinas, the President of Ford Foundation, in January 2013.

Our objective was to get their take about what we perceive as Systematic Institutionalized & Legalized Abuse of Gender Rights in India.  We were gently directed towards Maya Harris, Vice President of Democracy, Rights & Justice program. Guess what, neither Luis Ubinas’ nor Ms Harris’ office bothered to even respond with a polite no thanks. Guess justice for men doesn’t fall within the interests or “rights” jurisdiction of Ms. Harris.

We have begun to realize that American NGOs have an agenda in pursuing social change in third world countries like India. First, they are only interested in issues that suit their specific focus. That is why laws that institutionalize gender abuse against men are of no interest to them. Secondly, they have zero interest in monitoring the exact same abuses in America or in European countries. It is almost as if their primary interest is to convert third world societies to the cultural way that they think is more appropriate for those societies.

Is this why Ford Foundation’s India Representative wrote a lengthy detailed article about violence against women in India while the American HQ of Ford Foundation completely & deliberately ignores identically horrific violence against women in
America? Is that also why Ford Foundation doesn’t want to be sidetracked from their agenda by looking at legalized gender abuse of men in India?

We can’t think of other reasons for the behavior of Ford Foundation’s New York based President & Vice President. But we would like to be educated. So we hereby renew our appeal to Ford Foundation President Ubinas & Vice President Harris to sit down and talk with us.  In the meantime, we ask for their feedback about the opinions we express here or in our adjacent articles. As we said, we like to be educated by our betters.

3. Difference between Americans & Indians

That reason is proud American patriotism. America is a polarized country and intense emotional debates are common in American society. But they stay and are meant to stay within America. American society frowns on Americans seeking the help of other countries in intra-American fights and even on writing about America’s problems in foreign newspapers. That is deemed quintessentially un-American.

This is also why foreign newsmedia and foreign NGOs find it hard to recruit Americans and then to get these hired Americans to write against America.

In contrast, Indians run to western entities to complain about other Indians and to rail against Indian society. There is virtually a race among Indians to be the first or earliest to join the cause of American, British & European newspapers & NGOs. Being accepted as a writer by these foreign entities is a badge of honor and it brings material rewards including book deals & tours to US/UK/Europe.

And Indians have been handsomely rewarded for trashing their own culture, society and country for at least past 700 years. Successive invader rulers, like Afghans, Mongols, Portuguese & British, have consistently sought out Indians educated in their languages to heap scorn on Indian culture, religion and society.

American Media and American NGOs began this time honored colonial practice a few years ago and it has been welcomed by English-Educated Indians like the proverbial manna from heaven. For years, humanities students & aspiring writers have watched their technology and finance counterparts make money from American companies. Now it is their turn, they think and so they run to American media & American NGOs to make money and to get that foreign-acceptance status. 

But there is a difference. An Indian working for IBM or Accenture in India helps India grow in knowledge and in prosperity. But an Indian working for, say, New York Times or Human Rights Watch ends up colluding in their missionary zeal of changing Indian culture, damaging Indian religion and of turning Indian society the way they want it to be, in short the exact agenda of the “white man’s burden” carrying British colonial administration.

Getting back to Kavita Ramdas, Ford Foundation’s India representative, kudos to her if she is an American citizen. Then her article is an ideal example of American liberal missionary zeal. But what if she is an Indian citizen? We leave that to readers and to Indian society.

And of course, what American newspaper published Ms. Ramdas’ article about violence against women in India? New York Times India Ink, the one newspaper that, in our opinion, is the self-appointed leader of the attack on Indian society & its culture. But did its parent, the venerable New York Times, cover violence against American women the way Lama Hasan of ABC News did? Readers can find out for themselves by searching the nytimes.com website.

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