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Violence Against Women in India: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
January 8, 2013

A brutal New Delhi gang rape has triggered outrage across India. CFR's Isobel Coleman highlights three things to know about the case, and discusses the larger issue of violence against women in the country:

  • Gender Inequality at the Root: "In India, girls are valued less than boys," she says, "and this results in many inequalities in society." In addition to rampant sex-selective abortions, Coleman points to significant disparities in access to health care and education.
  • A Culture of Complicity: "Culturally, there's not enough exposure and conviction against those who are perpetrating acts of violence against women," Coleman says. Citing examples of cases where police officers have pressured victims to keep silent or even marry their rapists to avoid prosecution, she says there is "a culture of complicity around violence against women."
  • Opportunity for Change: The recent demonstrations are unprecedented in India, and could mark a turning point, Coleman says. "It could in fact result in some substantive changes for women. In particular for violence against women, but more broadly throughout society," she says.

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