Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meant to compliment Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after the two signed a historic land agreement last weekend. Modi addressed an audience at Dhaka University during his short visit on June 7, and praised Hasina’s strong stance against terrorism – despite being a woman. The comment enraged people worldwide, and inspired Twitter responses filled with sarcasm, historical facts, and a trending hashtag.
“#DespiteBeingAWoman Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize both in Physics and Chemistry,” said Pratik Sinha on Twitter.
Many more examples like these circulated the web, including mentions of India’s own female leaders, past and present. Among them were Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi, who serves as the president of the Indian National Congress party, and Pratibha Patil former president of India. In fact, the country is noted to have more women with political power than many others, especially in its region of the world.
So what inspired Modi’s sexist comment? Well, the status of everyday women in India has been openly criticized for years.
Mallika Sherawat, an Indian actress and model, famously debated with a journalist in 2013 saying that the Indian society is regressive for women because of female foeticide, infanticide, gang rapes, honor killings, young brides and the skewed sex ratio that affects women on a daily basis. Despite laws against such offenses, the National Crime Records Bureau recorded a 26.7 percent increase in crimes against women between 2012 and 2013, and since 2009 there has been a 51.9 percent increase in crimes against women.
The most commonly reported offense was cruelty by husband or his relatives at 1,18,866 in 2013, and the next most common offenses were kidnapping and abduction as well as rape.
Patterns of physical abuse or societal disregard have furthered over the years, which lead to the lasting, oppressive effects that Sherawat was talking about. The Lancet published a study in 2011 that showed selective abortions of girls increased, especially in households with an uneducated or poor mothers, rapidly changing India’s sex ratio.
The study did not find declines in births of boys between 2001 and 2011, but the scientists estimate that there have been between 1.2- and 3.6 million abortions of girls in those ten years. This is not only an injustice to those children, but creates a deep imbalance in social normalities. There are more men to enforce a wife’s submission to her husband and fulfill womanly obligations.
These factors convinced 370 gender specialists to vote India as the worst place for a women to live throughout the top 19 economies of the world three years ago. In fact, Save the Children’s 2015 ‘State of the World’s Mothers’ ranked India low at 140 out of 178 countries after evaluating the well-being, health, economic and education status of a mother and child. The treatment of everyday women should not continue to be controlled or hindered by a man in years to come.
It is time to pay more attention to a female’s well-being in India, starting with the Prime Minister, who can’t be shocked by the capabilities of his female counterpart in Bangladesh. Authorities should enforce the laws against a lesser mentality of women in India. and start helping the women that suffer daily .