South Africa and its fellow-BRICS member India may share many positive traits, including economic growth potential and regional leadership status, but also some more negative characteristics: high levels of inequality and high levels of violence against women, to name two (not unconnected).
Within months of each other, over late 2012/early 2013, India and South Africa both experienced the nation-rocking rape and murder of a young woman: the Indian medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey, and the Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen. But social and political responses differed greatly in the two countries, as a discussion last week in Cape Town revealed.
"It wasn't as if the demonstrations were coordinated," says Indian feminist writer and publisher Urvashi Butalia, recalling the mass protests that erupted across India in December 2012 after the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey. "A lot were spontaneous and separate. Different political formations demonstrated, and there were moments of tension between groups."
But the protests cut across gender, age, caste and geography. In Delhi's centre, on 16 December 2012, the protest hub of Jantar Mantar played host to people gathering throughout the day and night, demanding state action. Further afield, in suburbs and rural villages,...