In India, when a girl is raped, because the stigma is so enormous, nobody is allowed to disclose her name. So all the various newspapers and media outlets, in their excitement, kept giving her different names. So someone called her Damini and somebody called her Nirbhaya, which means the fearless one, though I don’t know how they assumed that she was fearless. What a strange thing to do to a young girl who was murdered in that way.
But John Kerry recently wanted to honor her on Women’s Day or something in the United States because he seemed so moved by this story. And that I found so grotesque, because in the last few years the Americans have in terms of what they’ve done to the women of Iraq, what they’ve done to the women of Libya, driven whole countries, millions of women back into purdah, back into the most inequitable lives—women who were poets and writers and doctors and scientists being pushed back against their volition. It’s not that they were women who chose to be like that, but the situation that was created by these wars has pushed them back. And then you pick up a young girl who was raped and honor her, when you’re pushing millions of women backwards and putting the hands of the clock back for millions of women. You come and pick up this one case, which is completely unpolitical. What happened to her was a criminal act. What happens to the women of Libya and the women of Iraq and the women of Afghanistan is political. You’re not committing a criminal act on one person but a criminal act on countries of women.
Arundhati Roy, Corporate power, women, and resistance in India today
Interviewed by David Barsamian for International Socialist Review.