Women all over the world are affected by social injustice. In many countries rules and laws have been put in place to ensure the equal treatment of women. Although these laws and rules have not kept things perfect they have helped to maintain a balance between men and women. This work towards equality does not function the same in all countries. There are still places where women are beaten, raped, and murdered without so much as a second thought. Some of these places even have rules in place to prevent these practices, but they are frequently overlooked. India is one of these places. A place that is both progressive on paper and in some urban areas but are also far behind in practice and in rural communities. What progress has already been made to protect women in India and what still needs to be done to ensure the equal treatment of women in all areas of India?
According to the International Violence Against Women Act on Amnesty International’s site, “Violence against women and girls represents a global health, economic development, and human rights problem. At least one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates of domestic violence reaching 70% in some countries.” This abuse of women and their rights is something more developed countries are taking very seriously. Over 7,000 women in India will be murdered by their family or their husband’s family because of arguments about dowries. “Violence against women is rooted in a global culture of discrimination which denies women equal rights with men and which legitimizes the appropriation of women's bodies for individual gratification or political ends. Every year, violence in the home and the community devastates the lives of millions of women.” (Amnesty). The study of why and how women are treated they way they have been is a fairly recent study. Purkayastha explains when this study arose, “The contemporary study of gender in India arose within a specific sociohistorical context: the establishment of a nation-state in 1947 after two centuries of British colonialism” (Purkayastha , 504).
A long time ago in India men and women were prescribed equal status but as time progressed, through medieval times of great inequalities between men and women to the present days of equal rights. In an opening verse of the Apastamba Sutra from around 4 BCE, quoted and translated on Amnesty International, it is stated that, “the primary duty of women is enjoined to be service to one’s husband.” Originally in ancient India women were looked at as equals. They were free to choose their own husbands at a mature age and maintained equal status in most areas of life. Shortly after this period of equality the number of equalities that existed between men and women began to diminish. Invasions as well as Christianity were contributors to the decline of equal rights for women. As the medieval period came around in India conditions for women continued to get worse. Sati, when a woman throws herself on her husband’s funeral pyre, child marriages, and the ban of women remarrying became the norm for Indian women. Polygamy in the Hindu tradition became more mainstream, as well as the sexual exploitation of temple women. While all of these hardships for women existed there also existed a small counterforce of women who surpassed men in areas like religion, education and politics. Sikhism also provided women with an opportunity for more rights and greater equality. One of the main messages of the Sikhs being equality between men and women especially during worship, for example when singing, being active members of the community, marriage equality, Baptismal equality, and even the opportunity to lead armies.
According to Amnesty International “Violence against women is rampant in all corners of the world. Such violence is a human rights violation that manifests itself...