Some of you might have heard of the infamous gang rape that happened in Delhi, India in December, you might have also followed the huge outcry and protests from ordinary citizens that followed it. This was not an isolated incident, and the huge public outcry was essentially because rapes and other forms of sexual assaults have become too common for a civilized society.
Rapes are only tip of the iceberg. Women face several injustices everyday in a large part of the country. Young girls struggle to get education on par with their brothers, because they are supposed to only cook and clean. The practice of ‘dowry’ makes most parents dread the day of their daughter’s marriage which is why ‘dowry’ is also the main reason behind the widespread practice of female foeticide.
Traditionally, in India mothers, not fathers, are worshipped. The bond between a sister and a brother is considered special and celebrated during the festival of ‘Raksha-bandhan’. Some of the biggest Hindu festivals involve goddess worship. More recently, we have had a female prime minister and a female president. The current leaders of the two biggest political parties in the parliament are women. Hence, it is both unfortunate and ironic that an ordinary woman faces so many injustices in everyday life.
Women around the world face or have faced injustices. However, some of the issues e.g. dowry are probably unique to India. I will give a brief introduction from an Indian perspective, based on my understanding as an Indian and someone who was born and brought up in Delhi. I will also talk about what has been done in India to combat them, where we have been successful, and the challenges ahead.