In a country where female participation in the labor force is only pegged at 25 percent by a November 2012 Gallup survey, the brutal gang rape and eventual death of a 23-year old New Delhi working woman has scarred India’s already-meager number of women employees. Dhanya Ann Thoppil of India Real Time in The Wall Street Journal has reported that the incident has led many to leave work earlier than usual and even quit their jobs.
The report was based on the results of a survey done by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India in the information technology and outsourcing sector where many Indian women find work. Of the 2,500 women surveyed in the past two weeks after the incident, 82 percent said that they “started leaving the office earlier.” In the Delhi area where 2,200 IT and outsourcing companies have employed more than 250,000, one in three women either “reduced working hours after sunset or quit their jobs.” As a result, it is estimated that this has lowered the productivity of working women in this sector in Delhi by as much as 40 percent.
Although the women employed in technology sector are content with the security arranged by their companies wherein cars and security guards drop them home, the women who travel by bus or other use other means of public transport to and from work are the ones who have a valid cause for concern. Because Indian women working in the outsourcing sector are dealing with clients living in North America and Europe, they have to work late at night. To quote Secretary General of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India D.S. Rawat, it is “the odd hours of work and the long distances of travel make women quite prone to difficult and often dangerous situations.”
A reader of Thoppil’s report, however, blamed religion as the cause for sexual harassment against Indian women. Rajeev wrote: “I think the problem of sexual harassment against Indian women start[s] with our Hindu religion. Take the example of Lord Krishna, who had 16,108 wives and was very naughty with his housemaids and other women at his palaces at his young ages. One of the religious book “Mahabarth “ tells us stories of women abduction (Drupathi -the heroine) and stripping of her cloths in front of her husbands, cousins, father in law, mother in law and others.”
This view is shared by a reader who reacted to another Wall Street Journal story on the incident. Renjithlal commented: “Indians are taught to disgrace ladies. Even in mythological Mahabharatha Draupadi was used as a chattel for gambling by none other than her famous husbands (The Panch Pandavas) And when they lost the game to Kauravas (Step brothers), the first thing done by Dussassana, a member of Kaurava is to undress Draupadi publicly….”
Another reader, commenting under the name disturbed writes that “the stupid culture of stereotyping woman in the society” has to change. “Until we get rid of this patriarchal religion and culture, no legislation is able going to stop rape…When the mindset of equality is achieved, that’s the day [that] this whole crime will be eradicated!”
Category: News In Review