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THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN TODAY'S INDIA

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The Indian women’s mortality rate is the second-highest in the world. More than 60 per cent of Indian women are illiterate. For every 1000 men, there are only 933 women in India, while the world’s average is 990 women for every 1000 men. Every year, of 15 million baby girls in India, almost 25 per cent do not live up to their 15th birthday. Adult women take in approximately 1,000 fewer calories for one day than men in India. Every 34 minutes, a rape occurs.

These statistics are a reality faced by Indian women today. Although officially having the same legal status as men, they still have to live with a very patriarchal system in place in modern India. Even within the legal system, there are some laws that greatly disadvantage women – Hindu law gives women limited rights to inheritance while under Muslim law, polygamy is allowed. The oppression of females in India, especially in the Northern parts, are likely due to Hinduism as well as Islam, which are religions that confine women to limited spheres. (This is controversial, however, as many scholars suggest that Indian women during the Vedic period had much more freedom and it was the Muslim invasion that created the patriarchal society today).

Since the independence of India, there has been much progress for gender equality as many laws are passed to ensure the protection of women’s rights. This includes laws related to dowry, rape, prostitution and obscenity. While we acknowledge that activists have made some changes in the constitution, traditions are not something that can be altered easily by law. On the one hand, while women are getting their legal rights, crime against women are actually on the rise. Women get raped even by their brothers, fathers or father-in-laws. In fact, female infanticide still occurs today.



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