KEMBURU: Indian government's treatment of women is unacceptable


Column: An Optimist's Opinion

India is one of the most dangerous countries for a woman to live in.

I do not expect you to just blindly believe me, so trust the 550 experts on women’s issues that came to this conclusion. India is dangerous for women due to the increasing amounts of sexual violence against women in India, slave labor, child marriage, female genital mutilation and more, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The life and subsequent death of Priyanka Reddy is further proof of the foundation’s findings. On the night of Wednesday, Nov. 28, Priyanka Reddy was raped, killed and burnt by four men. Reddy, a veterinarian doctor from Hyderabad was parking her scooter when the four men spotted her, according to police reports. It was right then that they made a plan to rape her.

One of the accused punctured her tires and when Reddy returned to her scooter, they approached her on the false premises of helping her repair it. While they took it to the repair shop, Reddy called her sister, telling her that she was afraid. It was soon thereafter that the crime was committed. The four men have officially confessed in court, and the enraged public has been quick to call for the death penalty. 

This was only one story. One story of one girl.

Within the two days of Priyanka Reddy’s rape, five other rape cases were reported in India. Here are details of only three: a 32-year-old widow was gang raped on her way back from grocery shopping, a 11-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped by an auto-rickshaw driver and a 25-year-old law student was gang raped at gunpoint.

Regardless of their age, all of these women were raped, and for most of them, it was in a public or semi-public space. This is why women in India do not feel safe anymore. This is why there is outrage from all around the world, because why should someone be punished this severely for just being a woman? 

So how did this happen? How did things get so bad that one gender has to suffer at the hands of another? Where did this sense of entitlement within men in India come from, and how can equality be established? 

I think there just seems to be this vicious cycle of seeing women as inferior and therefore treating them as such. For example, in a marriage between a man and a woman, the woman’s family is still expected to provide a dowry. This fact alone makes having a girl way more burdensome than it is to have a boy. 

Males in a family are also comparingly more encouraged to receive an education and get a job, as they are seen as the breadwinners of the family. In this way, having a boy is seen as beneficial because they will at least be providing for the family. 

For these reasons, India has one of the lowest female to male ratios by choice, participating in either selective sex abortion or female infanticide. There is thus a huge inequality in the sheer numbers of men versus women in India, and this lends itself to the dominance and sense of power that men tend to feel. 

There is also a huge problem of victim-blaming in India — not that it is not present in America — but sometimes this victim-blaming is done by the top-most government officials. For example, State Home Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali said that Priyanka could have been alive today if she had only called the police instead of calling her sister. 

Another high-up government official made the statement that female employees should not work after dark and said that he ensures that none of his female employees work after dark. 

These remarks induced large amounts of backlash, as it only adds to the victim-blaming rhetoric that constantly surrounds stories of rape. 

The outrage on social media following the events of Nov. 28 has transcended borders, as stories and information are being posted and reposted with the following hashtags #PriyankaReddy and #JusticeforPriyanka. 

The fact that any girl can be raped anywhere at any time in India is undoubtedly an issue deep-rooted in the values and institutions of India, but there remains hope that this public outrage will turn into necessary change. 

Anusha Kemburu is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year majoring in political science. Her column, “An Optimist’s Opinion,” runs on alternate Thursdays.

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