In India, Women Raped For Leaving the Home

A series of horrible sexual assaults and gang rapes near New Delhi is, according to the New York Times, highlighting class tensions as India modernizes and gender norms begin to shift.  The pattern in these brutal attacks seems to be the same: the victims are young, educated women who have begun to work outside the home, while the assailants are young men from the surrounding villages who see the women as depraved and thus deserving of harassment or assault.  These attitudes also lead people to defend men who are accused of rape, blaming the women for inciting men to “make mistakes.”

A devastating survey shows just how dangerous New Delhi is for women: 80 percent of women reported verbal harassment, and almost a third had been physically harassed.  Almost half the women reported being stalked.  These atrocities are occurring as India’s economic boom has brought women into the workforce in unprecedented numbers.  And many of these crimes go unreported, despite more aggressive attempts to decrease violent crime against women who take jobs outside the home.

Many blame the culture clash between the city, where gender norms seem to be breaking down, and the surrounding villages, which still tend to be quite conservative.  “There is a lot of tension between the people who are traditional in their mind-set and the city that is changing so quickly,” said Ranjana Kumari, a women’s rights activist. “Men are not used to seeing so many women in the country occupying public spaces.”

Disturbingly, the men don’t seem to see the violence as crimes, and according to the police, they expect to escape with impunity.  In some cases, the perpetrators are convicted, but in other cases, the women themselves don’t want to proceed with rape charges.  This is despite the fact that according to women’s rights activists, more convictions are crucial to making sure that these actions are seen as what they are: crimes.

It’s hard to know what to make of such a disturbing news story, especially since the problem is so deeply ingrained.  But it’s also a chilling reminder of the way that rape can be used to silence and disempower women, especially in places where women seem to be rapidly gaining freedom.

Related Stories:

Sexual Harassment Leads to Suicide In Bangladesh

“Virginity Tests” Forced On Egyptian Women Protesters

“Witch Hunts” on the Rise in Rural India


Photo from the U.S. Military.

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Melanie B.
Melanie Beuken2 years ago

Berny p.
Berny p.2 years ago

You rape someone.....YOU GET THE DEATH PENALTY!

Duane B.
.2 years ago


ILIA I.2 years ago

Excuse me if I gag with disgust.
What does it mean "asking for it?"
Is a man who parks an expensive car at the kerb "asking for it" to be stolen?
Is someone who owns an obviously expensive house "asking" for a burglary?
Should the car thief and the burglar be exonerated for being provoked?
Has anyone ever been exonerated of these crimes even if starving?
A woman's body is her property as much as her car and jewellery.
No one has any right or vindication to appropriate either and no excuse to do so.
To claim anything else is simply perversion of justice and of common sense.

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

Disgusting treatment!

ming l.
Ming l.4 years ago

WOW that is how they get rid of their wife very sad indeed i can't believe with all the poverty they would resort too this kind bs an deal with the opposite sex by burning them an just going out an find another if they dnt well who cares woman just dnt hve any rights i feel all woman should hve a voice an let them talk before u kill them dnt marry if u dnt want to keep them very sad too hear all of these about woman who r forced an then turn up dead later on.,

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

woman power! The world has yet to see just how powerful women can be... we just need to stick up for each other and stick together. I feel so deeply for women everywhere who are abused or oppressed

Fadia C.
Fadia C.4 years ago

It is sad

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

I'm not surprised. Several hundred women are burned alive every year in India. Greedy people kill the wifes, to gain more money. In India dowrys are banned, but they still exist. If a man and/or his amily are either displeased with the amount they got or want to get rid of the wife so they can get a new big dowry in the next marriage, they empty out the house of all valuables such as appliances, TVs, PCs and other electronics, tie the wife inside the house and sets it on fire. There are very few charged in this horrific crimes, because it's a tradition to do what you like to your wife. Shame on you India, for not protecting women and children!

Geoffrey Y.
Geoffrey Y.4 years ago

India culture has nothing to do with rape but the human's sin and perhaps taking advantage of the weakers. The system provide this "taking advantage" is the moral/value of the society as a whole in India.