Such crimes are routine in this country, where researchers estimate that anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 women a year are killed over dowry disputes. Many are burned alive in a particularly grisly form of retribution.
While a horrific gang rape in New Delhi has transfixed India and drawn attention to a violent epidemic, rape is just one facet of a broad range of violence and discrimination that leads to the deaths of almost two million women a year, researchers say. Among the causes are not only sexual violence but also domestic violence, family disputes and female infanticide, as well as infant neglect and poor care of the elderly that affect girls and women far more than boys and men.
Women have made enormous strides in India in recent decades. Their schooling now matches that of men, and they have moved forcefully into many industries, although their participation in the work force is still far less than that of men. And women have become leaders in Indian politics.
But women in New Delhi and throughout India say that their gender makes them vulnerable to attack from a vast and growing sea of unattached and unemployed young men who view women’s success as the reason for their failure.