Imaginea woman in India getting a brand new sparkly red dress from her friend fromAmerica. She’s overly ecstatic to wear this new elegant red dressand shows it off to her friends during a college event. Little does she know,this red dress would cause her emotional, psychological, and physical trauma.
Myneighbor in India, Sarah Thomas, is this woman; she wore this new red dress toa college campus event and a heterosexualmale brazenly approached her, grabbed her, and squeezed her in her privateparts as well as brushing her legs with his hands. My friend was distraught andshaken. She didn’t know what to do in the situation because in India themajority of society blames a women and not a man for either dressing”inappropriately” or being out “too late”. She tried to report the situation,but the police officer in charge looked into her eyes and blamed it on her forwearing a “short” dress. Sarah’s sister and I were furious and proceeded tocall local politicians and women in leadership positions to finally get the boyexpelled from her school. India is still a patriarchal society, where women aregenerally identified as subordinate to men.
Gender-based sexual violence inIndia is normalized and excused by the lack of interest and inconsistentreports from the police, which is influenced by the intersection of thesocietal patriarchal mindset,education, class, and jobs.AlthoughIndia is the largest democracy in the world, it still is largely a patriarchal society. The patriarchalsociety in India becomes prominent during one’s birth. “In India males haveremained doubly advantaged, as they are born in greater number than females, asanywhere else” (Singh).
The disparity of female-to-male sex ratio can cause alot of issues for the women of India. While interviewing, Sarah, she statedthat the female-to-male sex ratio in India can cause a shortage of marriageablewomen. She explained that the main reason why the male sex ratio is higher isdue to female babies being aborted illegally, being categorized as a burden, orbeing a liability to their family, which is promoted by many governmentofficials and religious leaders (Thomas). One may believe India’s governmentsafeguards women’s honor and respectability, but in reality, it fails toprotect their own country’s women. Women need to be treated as an asset, not aliability. Women need to be respected; they are not born to be used sexually. Ashortage of females in India can lead cisgenderIndian men to have an increase sexual arousal causing sexual assault (Esteve-Volart).Not only does the rate of sexual assault increase, but also women in India havea smaller chance to develop and grow using education and a profession.
They areencouraged to get married at a young age and often parents do not put emphasison their daughters to get a formal education. With most people in India beingraised into this patriarchalmindset, many of them believe that gender-based sexual violence is accepted inthe country’s lifestyle.Gender-basedsexual violence in India is normalized and appears naturally as a social construct.
India has a record ofmultiple incidents of violence against women that are not broadcasted orreported by the legal system. The, 2012 Delhigang-rape case was a sensational case around the world. The case was soimportant for India because it created attention to rape reporting in print,visual and social media. After the response from this case, visual, print, andsocial media stories of rape increased by 30% (Drache, Daniel and Velagic). It broughtpositive measures by showcasing that the police and government were thefundamental cause behind crimes against women.Althoughthe case shed light over the misconduct of police and government officials, itis still a huge controversy because the legal system of India is stillinconsistent of sexual assault reports. Accordingto Anupama Roy, a professor of political science, “the immediate aftermath ofthe rape case, the Delhi Police came up with a safety primer for women. Theadvisory asked women, among other things, to restrict their lives—head homestraight from school/college—and to run scared—don’t retort if you areharassed.
” (Roy). Authorities should not be teaching females to be scared abouttheir bodies and their gender identity, but rather teach them to be confidentwith their bodies and stand up for their rights. Instead, it seems like thatthey are teaching these females they are “weak”. They are teaching these femalesthat restricting their lives is perfectly normal.
They are giving them thatgeneralization that men are in charge of the “house” and females are in chargeof the “kitchen”. They are teachingthese females that they do not have the strength, intelligence, ordetermination to fight back against their oppressor. As I was interviewing my friend Sarah, shestated that in India, they do not offer sexual education that includes femaleanatomy. Sarah was completely unaware women can have clitoral orgasms (Thomas).
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 93 women are raped in Indiaevery day. The rate of women getting raped in India is significantly high and asolution to lower the rate of rape in India is to teach young girls and guys inhigh school and middle school about body confidence, sex education, and thebody itself. Making a gender, race, orsex class required in high school can help these students became well aware ofthese sensitive topics, which can be the start of helping India’s societyaccept the word “equality”. Instead of shaming these females for their genderidentity and teaching them that gender-based violence is a normal thing, theyshould be teaching these females how to stand up for themselves and correctthose who harass them.
One’ssocial class plays an impact on gender-based sexual violence in India. Socialclass is when individuals in society associate themselves with economic orsocial status. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and InternationalCenter for Research on Women (ICRW) constructed a survey that gathered datastating 40% of men that address having economic burdens and strains confess tocommitting sexual violence, opposing the 27% of men that was not affected byeconomic burdens (Chartoff). Lower class men incline to encompass that economicand financial burden, which can lead to being more hostile towards their femalecolleagues. Not only do lower class men commit rape or sexual violence, butalso men from an upper class.
According to Flavia Agnes, a divorce and propertylaw lawyer, upper-class men such as doctors, police officers, governmentofficials, etc. use rape as a medium to overpower women from a lower class(Agnes). It’s harder for lower class women to report their rape cases to thepolice because usually no one takes their side or believes them. Policeofficers, government officials, and upper-class men take their power toadvantage and make it seem like the women that they raped was lying or had sometype of mental issue. This makes it very hard for these lower class women topursue their education, profession, and marriage. InIndia, a social necessity is to be married. For the Hindu religion, a dowry isone step towards the ultimate goal of marriage.
The dowry is still mostprevalent in India, which is when parents of a bride hands money or property tothe bride’s groom. Harsh Dobhal, a social audit of human rights commissions inIndia, states that “women in the Indian community are treated as a man’s sexualproperty and marriage is considered the ultimate goal for a girl; a huge factorthat causes this belief in the Indian community is from the dowry” (Harsh). Thedowry brings misconception of marriage, identity, and gender. It creates thismindset that women are always subordinate compared to males. There is a DowryProhibition Act, but in certain communities in India, the dowry plays a hugepart of their wedding proposal. There are girls that go through this processand feel a sense of failure because they are tied economically and socially totheir new husband.
The Indian society creates an image that female’s work fortheir husbands. They question girls that are in a marriage who have actual jobsbecause in India’s mindset the husband is the only one in the marriage that issupposed to work and provide for their family. The caste system and class inIndia do not do justice for the society because most people, especially of ahigher class believes that the females from the lower class can be forced fortheir sexual satisfaction, and they will conveniently avoid to speak up about asexual assault case, gender-based inequality, or emotional abuse and feelsdiscouraged to report it to the legal system. India needs to realize that womendo not need to pay their spouse to marry them! Tomake these females feel more confident with themselves, India needs to start eliminatingjob that are designated for male only or female only. The job misconception of femalesoccur not because of their ability but due to social status “In terms of skilldevelopment, women are impeded by their lack of mobility, low literacy levelsand prejudiced attitudes toward women. When women negotiate with banks andgovernment officials, they are often ostracized by other men and women in theircommunity” (Ramesh).
Women in India are often discriminated against forpromotions to managerial positions and positions of power and authority. Thereligious and gender social practices that are often established by men and womenin the community can leave women hiding their talents and inhibiting them fromhelping India’s economy flourish and grow. These social practices create a male gaze by showcasing women and theworld from a masculine point of view. “Paternalistic parents are willing to payfor their daughter’s primary education if they have the means but not the extraamount needed for higher education, because women are not expected to enter thelabor force in the future, therefore there are no private gains from girls’higher education” (Esteve-Volart). The families that do this to their daughtersgive them false hope for the future. Theseparents are implying that their daughters are always inferior to males.
Theseparents tell their sons to have fun, but will tell their daughters to besafe. Everything their daughter doesafter marriage is for the person she marries. It’s sad because some women inIndia have the same ability, work ethic, and education as some males in India,but still, these women are not as free as men to engage in this economy. Thesegirls’ talents are hidden from the public.
Having a place that doesn’t encouragedecimation due to one’s gender can create an atmosphere of self-worth andconfidence. Rapeor sexual violence can do a lot to a woman psychologically, emotionally, andphysically. In India, gender-based sexual violence is normalized and excused.
The social status of an individual, the lack of support from the government,the inherent patriarchal society,and the lack of reporting law enforcement plays a huge factor when it comes toreporting these sexual violence cases. The widespread culture of rape in India ispublicly known to be not strictly chastised by the government. In order todecrease sexual abuse and violence in India, the criminal justice system canstart recognizing police officers that report these circumstances in a rightfulmanner, start teaching kids from a young age that everyone should be treatedequally no matter of race, gender, and class, and having sex education classes.Doing these three small tasks can make a huge difference in India’s patriarchal society!