Thursday, August 9, 2012

Women in India Struggle as Opportunities and Oppression Clash


It is so difficult for us out side of India to understand what the experience of being a woman is like there.  Surely it varies depending on economic status, religion, and region, but two intelligent articles have come to my attention that taught me a lot, and I hope you will find them helpful as well.

The headline for both is that reported sexual harassment and assault of women in India is going up while rates for other crimes are going down.  India was also designated "worst" in the TrustLaw Women report assembled by 200+ gender specialists ranking the G20 by their treatment of women (Canada made #1 - Best).

Nilanjana Roy puts real women into the discussion by describing the assaults by mobs of young men which have been filmed and are circulating around India, generating widespread anger, but also the all-too-familiar discussion about what limitations should be placed on women so these regrettable incidents don't happen. 
Rape and sexual assault are among the fastest-growing reported crimes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Rape also has a plunging conviction rate, with only 26.5 percent of reported rapes successfully prosecuted in 2010. And the response from the authorities across India has been strikingly obtuse. As public anger grew over the Guwahati attack, the police responded by declaring that bars in the city should shut down by 10 p.m. The announcement was widely seen as an attempt to distract attention from their own shortcomings in handling the case.
After a woman was raped in Kolkata this year, the police directed bars to stop serving drinks after 11:30 p.m. After a female journalist was shot and killed some years ago while driving home, Delhi’s police chief suggested that women should not drive late at night without proper escorts. And after the rape of a woman in Gurgaon, a city near Delhi, some months ago, the municipal administration suggested that women should not work after 8 p.m. (Read the full New York Times article.)
WNL would like to hear from women from the subcontinent, whether they still live in India or are living elsewhere.  What is your experience?  What can you tell us about what it's like to be you?

(Graphic above from Thompson Reuters Foundation, reproduced by The Wall Street Journal.  The accompanying article on the same report suggests there were additional rankings, including most dangerous countries pictured above.  Read that article here.)