World View: Gang Rape Victim Sparks Nationwide Protests in India

This morning's key headlines from
  • Iran begins annual war games in Strait of Hormuz
  • Sunnis hold mass protests in Iraq against Shia-majority government
  • Gang-raped victim sparks nationwide protests in India

Iran begins annual war games in Strait of Hormuz

Iran launched the Velayat-91, six days of major naval exercises around the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The exercises will involve warships, submarines, jet fighters and hovercraft while testing the navy's missile systems and electronic warfare capabilities. Iran has frequently threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint through which about a third of the world's tanker-borne oil passes, linking the Gulf's petroleum-exporting states of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar. The exercises come just after the Gulf Cooperation Council (BCC) of Arab states said that it "rejects and denounces" Iran's "continued interference" in their internal affairs. The National (UAE) and Payvand (Tehran)

Sunnis hold mass protests in Iraq against Shia-majority government

Tens of thousands of protesting Sunnis have shut down highways providing vital trade routes carrying government supplies between Baghdad to and from Jordan and Syria. The protests were on their fifth day on Friday. Iraq's army forces are preventing protesters from other provinces from arriving to join in the protests. The army is also preventing journalists from covering the event, and is confiscating journalists' transmission equipment. The latest protests were triggered by the arrest, last week, of nine bodyguards of Iraq's finance minister, who is one of the governments most senior Sunni officials in the Shia-majority government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This is also the one-year anniversary of the complete withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, and the immediately subsequent arrest of Sunni Arab Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is currently hiding in exile. Sunni protesters are complaining of massive discrimination against Sunnis by the Shia-led government, and some activists are demanding that Sunnis should have autonomy in their own region, along the model of the Kurdish region in the north. Al-Jazeera and Aswat Al-Iraq

Gang-raped victim sparks nationwide protests in India

An unnamed 23-year-old girl who was gang-raped last weekend died on Saturday in a Singapore hospital from her injuries. The girl had been coerced onto an off-duty bus, where the bus driver and six other males gang-raped her for half an hour, beat her and her male companion with an iron bar, and then threw them off the bus while it was in motion. The attack has triggered widespread protests all week in Delhi and across the country.

There's a lot more going on here than the mainstream media are talking about, and in India, that would be caste. Apparently the girl who was raped was from an upper caste, while the six men were from a lower class, such as the "untouchable" Dalit caste. Dalit activists say that they're forced to take the worst jobs, if they can get employment at all, that they're subject to repeated discrimination and harassment, and that Dalit girls are frequently raped and then ignored by the police. If a Dalit girl brings charges, then the alleged perpetrator is almost always acquitted.

So this is only tangentially a story about rape. The real story here is that India's caste system is far from dead, and that there will almost certainly be another war among India's castes and many ethnic groups. AFP and Guardian and Eurasia Review

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