Women in India now participate fully in areas such as education, sports, politics, media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc. Indira Gandhi, who served as Prime Minister of India for an aggregate period of fifteen years, is the world's longest serving woman Prime Minister. The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16), and equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)). In addition, it allows special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women and children (Article 15(3)), renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A) (e)), and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. (Article 42).
The Mathura rape case was an incident in India wherein Mathura, a sixteen-year-old tribal girl, was allegedly raped by two policemen on the compound of Desai Ganj Police Station in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra . The incident led to changes in Indian law. The acquittal of policemen accused of raping a young girl Mathura in a police station led to country-wide protests in 1979-1980. The protests, widely covered by the national media, forced the Government to amend the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Indian Penal Code; and created a new offence, custodial rape. Female activists also united over issues such as female infanticide, gender bias, women's health, and women's literacy.
According to a 1998 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barriers to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in the curriculum (female characters being depicted as weak and helpless).
In urban India, women participate in the workforce in impressive numbers. For example, in the software industry 30% of the workforce is female. In the workplace women enjoy parity with their male counterparts in terms of wages and roles. In rural India in the agriculture and allied industrial sectors, females account for as much as 89.5% of the labour force. In overall farm production, women's average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour. According to a 1991 World Bank report, women accounted for 94% of total employment in dairy production in India. Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises.
The Hindu personal laws of 1956 (applying to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritances. However, sons had an independent share in the ancestral property, while the daughters' shares were based on the share received by their father. Hence, a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing his share of the ancestral property, but a son would continue to have a share in his own right. Additionally, married daughters, even those facing marital harassment, had no residential rights in the ancestral home. Thanks to amendment of the Hindu laws in 2005, women now have the same status as men. In 1986, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano , an elderly divorced Muslim woman, was eligible for maintenance money. However, the decision was vociferously opposed by fundamentalist Muslim leaders, who alleged that the court was interfering in their personal law. The Union Government subsequently passed the Muslim Women's (Protection of Rights Upon Divorce) Act.
A Thomas Reuters Foundation survey says that India is the fourth most dangerous place in the world for women to live in. Women belonging to any class, caste, creed or religion can be victims of this cruel form of violence and disfigurement, a premeditated crime intended to kill or maim permanently and act as a lesson to put a woman in her place. The number of acid attacks have been rising.
Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day. Historically, child brides would live with their parents until they reached puberty. In the past, child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaved heads, living in isolation, and being shunned by society. Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice.
In India, the male-female sex ratio is skewed dramatically in favour of males, the chief reason being the high number of females who die before reaching adulthood. Tribal societies in India have a less skewed sex ratio than other caste groups. This is in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower income levels, lower literacy rates, and less adequate health facilities. Many experts suggest the higher number of males in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions. In 1994 the Indian government passed a law forbidding women or their families from asking about the sex of the baby after an ultrasound scan (or any other test which would yield that information) and also expressly forbade doctors or any other persons from providing that information. However, in practice this law (like the law forbidding dowries) is widely ignored, and levels of abortion on female foetuses remain high and the sex ratio at birth keeps getting more skewed.
Domestic violence in India is endemic and widespread predominantly against women. Around 70% of women in India are victims to domestic violence according to Renuka Chowdhury junior minister for women and child development. National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a crime against a women is committed every three minutes, a women is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the victim.
Of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990, half related to molestation and harassment in the workplace. In 1997, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace.
The victims were lured into coming to farm houses on the outskirts of the town at different times. They were sexually exploited and photographs with their being in compromising positions were shot by a gang of criminals. The girls were then blackmailed on the basis of these photographs and were forced to repeatedly visit the farm houses.
The victims, a 23-year old woman and a male friend, were on their way home on the night of 16 December 2012 after watching the film Life of Pi in Saket in South Delhi. They boarded a chartered bus at Munirka for Dwarka that was being driven by joyriders at about 9:30 pm (IST). There were only five others in the bus, including the driver. One of the men, a minor, had called for passengers telling them that it was going towards their destination. The woman's friend became suspicious when the bus deviated from its normal route and its doors were shut. When he objected, the group of six men already on board, including the driver, taunted the couple, asking what they were doing alone at such a late hour. When the woman's friend tried to intervene, he was beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious with an iron rod. The men then dragged the woman to the rear of the bus, beating her with the rod and raping her while the bus driver continued to drive. Medical reports later suggested that the woman suffered serious injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals due to the assault, and doctors say that the damage indicates that a blunt object (suspected to be the iron rod) may have been used for penetration. That rod was later described by police as being a rusted, L-shaped implement of the type used as a wheel jack handle. According to the International Business Times , a police spokesman said that the minor was the most brutal attacker and had "sexually abused his victim twice and ripped out her intestines with his bare hands."According to police reports the woman attempted to fight off her assailants, biting three of the attackers and leaving bite marks on the accused men. After the beatings and rape ended, the attackers threw both the victims from the moving bus. Then the bus driver allegedly tried to drive the bus over the woman but she was pulled aside by her male friend. One of the perpetrators later cleaned the vehicle to remove evidence. Police impounded it the next day. The victims, partially clothed and unconscious, were found by a passerby on the road, at around 11 pm (IST). The passerby phoned the Delhi Police, who took the couple to Safdarjung Hospital, where the female victim was given emergency treatment and placed on mechanical ventilation. She was found with injury marks all over her body and only 5% of her intestines left inside of her abdomen. A doctor at the hospital later said that the "rod was inserted into her and it was pulled out with so much force that the act brought out her intestines also. That is probably the only thing that explains such severe damage to her intestines.”
It took 14 years after schoolgirl Hetal Parekh's rape and murder for the man held responsible, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, to be brought to justice. Part of the reason was that the government had apparently forgotten about the case for a decade. Hetal was raped and murdered on March 15, 1990; Dhananjoy was hanged at Alipore Central Jail on August 14, 2004. He remains the last murderer-rapist to be hanged in the country. He was a guard at Hetal's apartment in south Kolkata. Hetal's parents had gone out and left the keys with Dhananjoy, telling him to hand them over to Hetal when she returned from school. When she did, Dhananjoy followed her inside. "The girl choked to death while she was being raped," said a police officer who had been part of the team that investigated the case. A few months later, Hetal's father Nagar Das and his family shifted to Mumbai, unable to remain in a flat with such painful memories. The Alipore sessions court sentenced Dhananjoy to death in 1991. Over the next four years, Dhananjoy appealed successively in the Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court, and filed mercy petitions with the governor and the President. All were rejected. On March 16, 1994, his lawyers moved the high court for a review. The court stayed the execution. The case went out of the government's focus until November 2003, when the law and justice department "chanced upon the case while going through some files" and wrote to the high court chief justice asking why the stay hadn't been vacated so long. The high court lifted the stay but Dhananjoy then filed another series of petitions. These too were rejected, paving the way for the execution. The death warrant was signed in January 2004. The next few months saw much debate and activism. Then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee pleaded the death penalty be executed; his wife Meera joined rallies in Kolkata, as did hangman Nata Mallick. On the other side were intellectuals such as Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen and Mahasweta Devi, who appealed to then President APJ Abdul Kalam for commuting the sentence to life. Dhananjoy's parents, wife and other villagers too campaigned for mercy.
Indira Gandhi, served
as Prime Minister of
India for an aggregate
period of fifteen years,
is the world's longest
serving woman Prime
Feminist activism in
momentum in the late
1970s. One of the first
that brought women's
groups together was
the Mathura rape case.
Though it is gradually
increasing, the female
literacy rate in India is less
than the male literacy rate.
In urban India, girls are
nearly on a par with boys in
terms of education.
However, in rural India
girls continue to be less
well-educated than boys.
Contrary to common
perception, a large
percentage of women
in India work.
However, there are far
fewer women than men
in the paid workforce.
In most Indian families,
women do not own any
property in their own
names, and do not get a
share of parental property.
Due to weak enforcement
of laws protecting them,
women continue to have
little access to land and
In India, acid attacks on
womenwho dared to
refuse a man's proposal
of marriage or asked for
a divorce are a form of
revenge. Acid is cheap,
easily available, and the
quickest way to destroy
a woman's life.
Sonali, who was an NCC
cadet, has been left disfigured
Sonali had become completely
blind and partially deaf after the
acid attack by three youths in
2003 causing serious injury to
her face. Since then, she has
been campaigning for justice
and also met the chief minister
requesting for a suitable job.
A 1997 reportclaimed that
each year at least 5,000
women in India die dowry-
related deaths, and at least
a dozen die each day in
'kitchen fires' thought to be
intentional. The term for
this is "bride burning" and
is criticized within India
According to UNICEF’s
“State of the World’s
47% of India's women
aged 20–24 were
married before the
legal age of 18, rising to
56% in rural areas.
Ultrasound scans often
reveal the sex of the baby,
allowing pregnant women
to decide to abort female
foetuses and try again later
for a male child. This
practice is usually
considered the main reason
for the change in the ratio
of male to female children
Violence against women is most
often committed by someone
known, usually a husband or
It is estimated that 1 in 3 women
have been or will be the victim
of violence by an intimate
partner – beaten, raped,
coerced into sex, or otherwise
The Immoral Traffic
(Prevention) Act was passed
in 1956. However many
cases of trafficking of young
girls and women have been
reported.These women are
either forced into
prostitution, domestic work
or child labour.
Brides are being bought in Madhya
Pradesh - sometimes in exchange for
a buffalo and some cash.
In districts like Ashoknagar and
Guna, where men far
outnumber women probably due to
female foeticide, desperate grooms
are turning to human traffickers to
find a wife. It's no problem if they
don't have deep pockets -- the
'matchmaker' kindly accepts a
buffalo as part payment.
Many activists blame
the rising incidents of
against women on the
influence of "Western
This occurred in Ajmer town
in Rajasthan state. It came to light in
1992. It was the biggest sex scandal
to have been seen in India till then.
The girls were allegedly sexually
exploited by a group of about 18
Over 100 schoolgirls were
blackmailed on the basis of
their photographs in compromising
positions, officials said.
The Suryanelli rape case concerns a 16-year-old Indian girl who
was sexually harassed and assaulted for around 40 days by several
men in 1996.
The girl, originally a resident of the Suryanelli village of
the Kerala state, was enticed, blackmailed and threatened into
eloping with her lover, who disappeared during the journey.
Subsequently, she was befriended by a woman, who along with a
lawyer, promised to take her to her aunt's place in Kottayam. The
lawyer took her to a lodge, where he raped her. The duo then took
her to a number of places across Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where she
was raped by several men in January 1996.
40 people were accused of being involved in the incident, and these
included some well-known and well-placed individuals.
Scarlett Keeling, a 15-year-old,
was beaten and raped in
February 2008 before being
left to die on a Goan beach
popular with tourists for its
beach bars. No one has been
convicted for the crime.
She can finally be buried after
the body was cleared for
release by the Devon coroner
four years after her death.
Scarlett Keeling standing on the Anjuna beach in
Goa, a few days before her death on 18 Feb 2008.
female physiotherapy intern was
beaten and gang raped in a bus in
which she was travelling with her
The only other passengers on the bus
were five men and the bus driver, all
of whom raped the woman.
The woman died from her injuries
thirteen days later while undergoing
emergency treatment in Singapore.
Protesters at India Gate in Delhi demanding
government action after the gang rape
Dhananjoy Chatterjee was a security
guard who was executed by hanging
on August 14, 2004 for the rape and
murder of 14-year-old Hetal Parekh on
March 5, 1990 at her apartment
residence in Bhowanipur.
It was the country's first execution
The death penalty is rarely carried out
in India. It is usually reserved for
particularly gruesome or politically
Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the rapist and murderer
of a 14-year-old girl, and the killer was hanged
to death on August 14, 2004 at the Alipore
Central Jail in Kolkata after 14 years.
The main UN theme ‘A promise is a promise: End violence against
women’ rings hollow in this country where the girl child’s life is
terminated even when she is a mere foetus inside her mother’s womb.
If she somehow manages to escape that she will be abandoned
somewhere. Even if she lives, at every single moment she is treated
differently – she’s fed less than her brothers, has less access to
medical care, is made to do the majority of the work and given less or
no education. All her life a girl is told that her life belongs to another –
her father, husband or son. And that’s not even accounting for horrific
incidents like rape, acid attacks, honour killings and other forms of
sexual harassment that stalk every woman in India. Survey after
survey reveals that India is one of the worst place for women be it
because of sexual violence and various other gender inequalities.