The South Asian Life & Times - SALT   
  January - March 2013          



 January - March 2013


Editor's Note


 Cover Story
 Ravi Shankar - A Life
 Truly Lived

 50 Years of Solar
 System Exploration

 Makli - Crumbling &

 Real Issues
Women on Sexual

 Kiran Bedi

 Suman Nalwa 

 Richa Anirudh 

 Pages from the Past

 Maldives - Back in

 -The Wonder Herb

 Mahakumbh 2013













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What a Shame!

Was 2012 the Year of the Woman?
In India – maybe NOT!

November 2012: An Indian woman holds the record for total spacewalk time by a female astronaut.  In addition, she has spent a total of 322 days (close to a year) in space on two missions, and now ranks sixth on the all-time U.S. endurance list, and second all-time for a female. The woman is Sunita Williams.
August 2012
: An Indian woman, Mary Kom, represented India in Women’s Boxing – a debut event at the London 2012 Olympics – and brought home a medal.

While the world celebrated the achievements of these extraordinary women, back home in India – 2012 was a different story.  A record number of rapes, gang-rapes and gang-molestations were reported from all parts of the country. Some of the wounds are still fresh. The barbaric gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in Delhi - the national capital - on the night of December 16 ignited and galvanised the dormant anger of the public at large – the entire nation protested in one voice – clamouring for justice.

India, especially northern India, has become increasingly unsafe for women. But this has not happened overnight. The feudal male attitude towards women has remained unchallenged for centuries. Centuries-old belief system has viewed women in secondary roles, as the property of males and as second-class citizens – meant to cook, clean, and raise children. Men  remain the entitled and privileged species. Very little has changed for the vast majority of female population in India. And even less has changed in the way most men perceive women. Such cultural beliefs provide “instant scripts for violence.”   Generations of women in our culture were raised to a state of voiceless non-existence, to fade into the background, and this continues so in many parts of the country. Women in India have little or no economic, social or political power – hence they are still overlooked. In fact, they don’t matter. And because they don’t matter, they are easy prey.

Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in India. Crowded streets, buses and trains are notorious for gropers.  Law enforcers and public officials have done little to provide a safe environment for women nor have they made a serious attempt to send stern warnings of punishment for sexual offences to the men. Reporting such crimes only brings harassment and aggravation from the police and additional threats from the perpetrators. Examples and instances abound.

The three most immediate measures required to safeguard women are zero tolerance for sexual offences, speedy trials, and the harshest of punishment for offenders. Long-term, the need is to examine how the male mind-set can be changed.

In the wake of the brutal and horrific gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in a moving bus in Delhi, SALT spoke with three women residents of the national capital – former police officer Kiran Bedi, current police officer Suman Nalwa, and talk-show host Richa Anirudh - all three actively involved in women’s issues.


Read the entire article in the print edition of The South Asian Life & Times



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