Feature

India: Where women can’t venture out alone

Even in India’s most progressive state, women “cannot step out of their homes and offices without the fear of being assaulted.” 

Kalpana SharmaThe Hindu

Even in India’s most progressive state, women can’t go anywhere alone, said Kalpana Sharma. The southwestern state of Kerala is commonly perceived to be miles ahead of the rest of India on women’s rights: Women there are better educated, marry later, and live longer than women in the rest of India do. But a recent survey asking Kerala’s women about how they are treated in public “blows the lid off” the myth. The overwhelming majority said they are routinely harassed. On public transportation, they are groped and pinched and rubbed up against by male riders, and often by the conductors, too. In public parks and other open spaces, they are accosted and insulted, and they are often “too afraid to go anywhere near” the unsafe public toilets that are supposed to be for women. As if any more corroboration were needed, even the women conducting the interviews for the survey were “harassed, stared at, touched, hit, and followed.” Clearly, India has a long way to go. Even in the one region where women have made the greatest strides in employment and education, they “cannot step out of their homes and offices without the fear of being assaulted.” 

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