Friday 19 January 2018

Julia Molony : Indian women lead independent lives – until darkness descends

The new generation is educated, cultured and savvy – but sinister risks still abound

Over Christmas, while at a wedding in southern India, I sat at a table with the bride and her friends, a group of young women in their 20s. Some, like the 23-year-old student who died last Sunday as a result of her assault on a Delhi bus, lived in Delhi and had travelled to Kerala for the wedding. Some lived in Kerala itself.

Like you and me, they were horrified by the details of the horrific rape case that had been the main subject of the rolling 24-hour news there, and indeed, all over the world. But the issue was particularly pressing to them, because of what it meant about the risks they live with as young, modern Indians. Risks that curtail their freedoms and define how they must go about their lives.

In two short weeks in India, I glimpsed just a snapshot of what life is like for young, unmarried women there. Their lives seemed, in many ways, just like mine. One or two were about my age, but most, to be honest, were a few years younger. As one 20-something Indian IT working playboy who was a guest at the wedding explained to me, they don't let the girls get to my age around here without getting them married.

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