Photos taken by Lyndsey Addario
India: a south Asian crossroad populated to the brim with a class system so rigid it’s citizens cannot escape its grasp.
On average, forty five percent of Indian women are married before age eighteen, my current age. For centuries, Indian women have been taught to be a man’s wife and their children’s care giver.
Men are given more food, superior clothing, and better education. Young women are instructed to do household chores simply because cleaning animal dung may be more productive to the family unit than going to a good school like their brothers.
According to a 2011 study by the Lancet, about twelve million baby girls have been aborted for the fear of families having to pay a dowry.
Being female is synonymous with financial burden.
In India, once engaged, the wife’s family is to give her husband a dowry: a large sum of money. Although dowries have been outlawed, they are still extremely common.
A poll of three hundred seventy gender specialists from across the world voted that out of all the G20 nations, India is the worst place to be a woman. One of those polled, Gulshun Rehman, a health program development advisor at Save the Children UK stated, “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as ten, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour.”
Living in a world where you are expected to be a financial liability and birth children is seemingly almost unrealistic to me. In American, women are given the privilege to reach for the stars. Whether that means going to med school, or getting married at age thirty five, women in America are given the option of choice— endless paths adjacent to those of men— yet these paths tend to be shorter than those of our male counterparts.
According to catalyst.org, for every one hundred male births, eighty nine girls are born. Women earn fifty seven percent of what their male counterparts make for fulfilling the same work.
Almost eighty percent of the Indian population is Hindi. With a religion centralized on worshipping female goddesses, it is hard to comprehend the societal roles women play—hypocrisy.
Indian culture has been marked since ancient times as rigid and resistant to change. But India is democratic— it’s modernizing— yet many of its country’s women still face a fate so old they’re ancestors died for the same reasons.
As India begins to develop at a faster rate, economic and social inequality has catalyzed modern feminist issues such as sexual assault in public transit or the workplace. New problems arise as women all over the Indian subcontinent attempt to tackle an issue so large, yet half it’s population doesn’t recognize the issue. Action is being taken, action will be taken, movement will occur— it’s only a matter of time.
Pidd, Helen. “Why is India so bad for women?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 July 2012, www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/23/why-india-bad-for-women. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.
Udas, Sumnima. “Challenges of being a woman in India.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Jan. 2013, www.cnn.com/2013/01/12/world/asia/india-women-challenge/index.html. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.
Venessa. “Women in the Labour Force: India.” Catalyst, 4 Aug. 2017, www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-labour-force-india. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.
“Women’s Situation in India.” Saarthak, saarthakindia.org/womens_situation_India.html. Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.