- Posted January 29, 2013 by
Delhi Rape & Women: India has many realities
Most media articles that have emerged after the Delhi Rape have tended to label Indian men as mysogynists or rapists, and women as victims. Here are the opening lines of the article "India can learn respect for women" that typifies this labeling: "A terrible truth that for our girls and women, violence and discrimination are facts of daily life"
Such articles, though partially intended to raise awareness of women's issues in India, are cleverly phrased to attract western audiences by labeling the whole nation of women as one unit.
Let's stop treating India as a package when it comes to Women's issues. There are many levels of women's reality when it comes to India. India is a very diverse country holding a fifth of the world's population, and the number of highly educated and successful Indian women would dwarf any nation in the world.
Firstly, we need to make a distiction between Urban and Rural India. India's urban population is more than 30%. If you include small towns, this would be closer to 50%. But even 30% of 1.2 Billion amounts to more than the population of the US. A large majority of women in Urban India are educated and are working. A good percentage of these Urban-India graduates are not just working in America and other western countries, but are a part of middle and upper management in major multi-national companies. So, we do need to give credit to the system that has brought about this rise in India's women in such a short time (less than 2 decades since gloabalization of India). If Indian men are mysogynists who resort to such crimes as female infanticide, then would we be seeing this meteriocal rise in India's women on the world's stage.
The second distiction is one of region. India is a humongous country, population and size wise. We can't club all parts of India under the same blanket. There are progressive states in India and there are less progressive states. Kerala, for example boasts of a higher female to male ratio, and is known as a matriarchal society. Most states in South India have progressive outlook towards women's education and upkeep. I come from Andhra Pradesh which has had many progressive leaders since independence, who have brought about a change in attitute towards women and other issues. I and can boast of more than two dozen first cousins who as all engineers, many of whom are girls. But that reality may be different from the northern states.
The third distinction we need to make is generational. Women born in pre-independence India, irrespective of Urban or Rural beginnigns, have suffered discrimination when it comes to education and other benefits offered to their brothers. But post-independence born Urban women are highly educated and many have successful careers. My mother, born in post-independence India, is a M.A in arts and though a home-maker during her child-rearing phase, went onto to start her own public library and later manage a major tile agency.
Again, it goes back to my original argument that we can't look at India as one package when it comes to women, just to make it easier to sell to the west.
Yes, rural India (and in general the poor India) still has issues, and we need to address them. But we can't do it by clubbing all Indian women under the victim bucket. A large percentage of India's women are educated and successful. We need to accept both realities and only then can we start making one reality mimic the other.