India’s Battle of the Sexes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 15, 2013
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She glanced nervously at her watch: 9:30. She sighed. It was late to be traveling, even with a male friend. She looked around the street; it seemed empty, but you never knew in Delhi. Her hands knotted nervously as she waited for the bus. Her friend, too, seemed ill at ease. After all, in Delhi, no sensible woman is out on the street after 6 p.m. The movie wasn't worth it, she thought, mentally promising herself never to go to a late show again.

She sighed again, this time in relief as she saw the bus pull up. She jumped up promptly and boarded, wanting to be safe at home. What happened next left India, and the world, shell-shocked.

This 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who had only known struggle for her whole life – the struggle to leave her small town, the struggle to get a good education, the struggle to feed her siblings, to establish a better life for her parents, to become an independent female in Delhi – was now struggling for her life.

The brutal gang rape and mutilation of this woman touched a spark to Indian society that instantly erupted into protests, rallies, debates, and demonstrations.

As a devout feminist, I joined every protest and rally I could. But I believed, somewhere in my mind, that it would make no difference. As usual, something horrific would happen, and the country would become like a baby – screaming and shouting, enraged, uncontrolled and demanding. Then, like an irritated parent, the government would spring into action and formulate quick and ineffective measures. The weekend would be over; people would continue with their lives, feeling somewhat satisfied with their “participation,” muttering about the inadequacy of the government, and then everything would return to normal. The worst thing here in India is that everyone speaks and speaks, making brilliant plans, but nobody ever implements them properly.

The Delhi rape case brought one very important question forward: even after becoming an industrial and intellectual center of the world, why does India continue to treat its women worse than dogs?

I have pondered this question for a long time. Surely it isn't due to the ancient Indian scriptures, in which women are goddesses. Surely it isn't the Hindu religion, one of the few in the world to give women positions as priests. Surely it isn't the constitution, which gives equal rights to women. Surely it isn't our education – we are all taught that women and men are equal.

If it's not any of these, then what is it that allows Indian men to resort to rape, murder, beating, throwing acid, and burning their brides? The list of abuses against women in India, sexual or otherwise, is endless. Maybe in India, men have less inhibition about hurting women. Maybe they know that their wife will not leave them, no matter how many times they put her in the hospital; that the victim of rape will not report the heinous crime; that once the acid burns the face of a girl, she won't be able to do anything; that after they murder their new bride for money, the police won't be able to pin it on them. Why the women do not speak up is another matter entirely.

Young girls like me are in the worst position. As students and professionals, we go out in the world and sometimes live alone. Every time my mother asks me to wear jeans instead of shorts when I go out of the house, I throw a fit, screaming that if we don't change our mindset, the country will never change. But I know she is right. I know I cannot wear short pants, skirts, or dresses in public because men constantly stare.

Women in India are the best multi-taskers because they are brought up that way. I see my mother (a superwoman, really) juggling a job, house, husband, friends, parents, in-laws and kids, and getting little recognition for her efforts. I see many girls like me, who, when out on the streets, are constantly aware of who is in front of them, beside them, and behind them. “Anything can happen” is the mantra constantly playing in our minds. That guy on the bike might touch my behind and speed off; that guy walking behind me might snatch my gold chain; that man near me might call out obscenities.

The day the Delhi gang rape victim died, everyone in my school wore a black band. A program was held; we mourned the loss of a sister. Despite the seemingly dark future, I saw boys talk passionately about women's rights. I saw girls pour their hearts out. I saw teachers agree with us. And finally, nine months after the incident, I saw four men sentenced to death for raping and murdering the woman in Delhi.

Then I turned to my family. My grandfather treated my grandmother as little more than the woman who raised his kids; my father admires my mother (though he never says it out loud) and openly showers her with love and gifts. And finally, there is my little brother, who I know could never become a chauvinist pig – who'd rather die than raise his voice at a woman.

Maybe the rest of the world is on a Generation Decline. But it seems India is on the path to Generation Upliftment. It makes me think that maybe, after all, there is hope.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 18 comments. Post your own now!

izzyz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 19, 2015 at 4:04 am
This is a great article..... I fully agree with everything you said! Keep writing and fighting!
Rafi M. said...
Mar. 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm
Wow - deeply powerful and moving. Every woman (and man) should read such an article. Very strong voice and well-written throughout: you definately deserved to be published.
Harsha_Pattnaik This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 25, 2014 at 6:20 am
Indeed, when the monstrous culprits of Nirbhaya were given the punishment they deserved I felt like the dynamics of India shifted, in favour of women. But one thing I couldn't swallow was that the juvenile culprit got it easy, he should have been given a sentence which equalled his sins, not the age determined by his birth certificate. Very well written!
ShagunThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 27, 2014 at 2:01 am
I know, right ! if the crime was adult why does it matter that the man was just a few months away from turning 18?
Hanban12 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 20, 2014 at 11:03 am
Wonderful! I love your train of thought in this, and it's so interesting to read about! I love to learn about cultures different from mine, so thank you so much for posting this! Very descriptive and enlightening :)
Roman_syn said...
Jan. 26, 2014 at 6:03 pm
Wow. This is great. I can see why it got into the magazine
Chaitali said...
Jan. 7, 2014 at 11:11 am
A correctinon..I mean a girl being there and writing! (Not a boy! slipped out of my mind...) Sorry..  
Chaitali said...
Jan. 7, 2014 at 11:09 am
Who would have thought a boy writing this article and being for the victim in such a beautiful way. I hope you have been consoled by AAP coming into power... Make sure to read and comment on mine
NaaThompson said...
Jan. 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm
  Nice work. You're very passionate about what you write and that's good.
rheame said...
Oct. 30, 2013 at 1:34 am
hi and congratulations!!! a wonderful,powerful article.iam an indian teenage girl too and totally agree to you. once again  congrats!
411Ellie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm
Congratulations on getting published! You deserve it!
acegirl6 said...
Oct. 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm
LOve it! we girls got to stick together!!!!!1
willagrace This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 1, 2013 at 6:29 pm
Extremely well written and powerful. It's captivating, especially the first paragraph. Great job.
TheAnonymousKid said...
Aug. 3, 2013 at 6:10 am
Extremely well written and powerful. Great job.
guardianofthestars This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm
This is a very powerful article.  I really thought it was good, not the problems it was talking about, but how it was written was very good.  It was very strong and passionate.  You truely earned the editor's choice and hopefully the magazine!!
Alizz said...
Jul. 22, 2013 at 11:25 am
That was just amazing. You seem like a very strong, independent, and optomistic girl. Being a girl myself, I would probably share similar fears if I lived where you are. Living in America, and in a good city, I don't think I experience situations like this at all really. You're story actually transported me into this other type of lifestyle where you have to be more cautious and careful about what you wear. Reading this article, I began to think of how I take so many littl... (more »)
Laugh-it-Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 4, 2013 at 11:18 am
GREAT JOB!!!!!! this was awesome!!! I wrote a peice just like it called Girl on Fire (if you want to check it out, go ahead). WOW! passionate and into it. We girls have to stick together!!! Great job! I also have a blog dedicated to womens rights with over 400 pageviews, and over 7 countries worldwide participating. I feel that if we actually tried, we could change the world!!! Keep rockin
lechu said...
Apr. 29, 2013 at 9:34 am
I am really really happy to read ur article dear friend. I am indeed very glad to see teenagers like us, to  speak so strongly and with optimism on such a serious issue our nation is facing. Being a GIRL I have really experienced all the fears u have spoke about and right we all can hope for is a nation that respects their words on WOMEN EQUALITY rather than the one that yells for reservation.!!!
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