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« China has to learn how to take better care of its own | Main | Paging China's muckrakers! »
11:18AM

Indian women and the push against gender violence

NYT story on widespread protests in New Dehli over the apparent gang rape and (eventual) murder of a young female student (23) on a bus.  The woman died from her wounds, which included penetration by a metal rod.

Gruesome stuff, to say the least.

The nature of the violence isn't what catches my sense of historical timing.  Men in packs will do the most atricious things.  

What's interesting here (and it corresponds to a scenario proposed by a Wikistrat analyst at a recent sim we ran) are sociologists linking this growing pack violence against Indian women to a growing disparity in gender numbers - i.e., excess males after years and years of discarding female fetuses.  The result is an age cohort where there are too many guys, too few females to court, and a budding social anger among the males that translates into violence against women and implicit attacks on their rights and standing.  In short, too few women relative to men = social devaluation of females, making them "fair game" in the minds of angry young men.

I will tell you, I buy excess males turning against governments when jobs are not there, and I buy this too.  I've never bought, in the modern context, the bit about having to place excess males in the military and then going to war.  That's applying old logic to modern situations.

But the "war" does come, is the point.  It's just a war against women.

The upside?  It forces women to fight harder and more pervasively for their rights in society, and here the historical timing reminds me of the US in the 1960s and 1970s - a time of seismic and permanent change for women in American society.  I was born (1962) into one world regarding the role of women, but by the time I was a young male courting (1982, when I met my wife and started dating her), it was a very different universe. My wife was the only daughter of a woman who divorced her husband and left to pursue her PhD - I mean, really radical stuff in the early 1970s.  That experience made my spouse a very different person, and thus forced a different relationship (trivial but telling example:  my second middle initial comes from my taking my wife's maiden name of Meussling, thus rendering, in the eyes of the USG, my original name (Thomas Patrick Barnett) as my "maiden name" for all time).

It's a tiny example of how much change happened in the US on womens' issues across the short timespan of my first 25 years of life.  I can't possibly guess at the rate of change that older civilizations like India and China will enjoy/suffer.  I can just speculate that this awakening is coming, and that it's going to be huge.

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Reader Comments (2)

Is it my imagination or does this have the potential to do a lot more harm to India than it did the US? India's diversity already allows low-caste individuals and cross-caste couples to move to cities and regions where their 'transgression' is less obvious. When widows move from places where they're blamed for not committing Suttee to places where their widowhood is unknown or not a source of blame, the gender gap increases in their homeland and decreases in the new place. Ditto if the women participating in these protests decide life would be easier in the South (I've noticed articles on the subject tend to highlight the North of India as the roughest places for women).

Some relatively equal and liberal places- assuming they can suppress any biases they have toward northerners- become more equal and liberal. Other unequal, illiberal places become less so and presumably angry at the regions taking 'their' women. Don't envy the people having to keep a lid on this--they may wind up pushing for women's rights reforms just to keep the country from falling apart.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

China has also more males than females, but faces not such a high rape rate like India. I think in China women have a stronger position in society than in India.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalf Ostner

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