India can never reach its full potential with women living in fear: NYT

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: As the American media kept up prominent coverage of the tragic saga of an Indian gang-rape victim, a leading US daily said the rising economic power “can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence”.

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In an editorial under the title “Rape in the World’s Largest Democracy”, the influential New York Times said: “The brutal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi this month has cast a cold light on how badly India treats its women.”

“This reprehensible crime reflects an alarming trend in India, which basks in its success as a growing business and technological mecca but tolerates shocking abuse of women,” it said.

Calling for reforms in the law enforcement system to make convictions more possible and punishments more convincing, the Times said: “More broadly, India must work on changing a culture in which women are routinely devalued.”

“India, a rising economic power and the world’s largest democracy, can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence,” it said.

US media also gave prominence to reports of Indian police adding murder charges to allegations of gang-rape against six accused men after the victim died in a Singapore hospital.

The Washington Post said in an earlier report citing analysts: “The brutal rape shook Indians out of their usual apathy.”

“The response to it was galvanized by a complex confluence of factors, including the rise of a vocal, urban middle class, the use of social media and changing lifestyles,” the daily said noting, “Similar factors triggered the massive anti-corruption movement that swept Indian cities last year.”

The Los Angeles Times reported “the assault provoked thousands of New Delhi residents to throng the presidential palace last weekend, chanting ‘We want justice!’ and ‘Hang them now,’ culminating a six-day outpouring of anger at authorities for doing too little to deter assaults on women in the Indian capital.”

Time magazine carried a photo feature on “an alleged gang rape in Delhi (that) has prompted calls for change by women’s rights groups and violent clashes between police and anti-rape protests in the nation’s capital”.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])