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This article from the New York Times discusses the current situation in India as the percent of rural women working has declined greatly from 37% to 27%. While the caste system has long been an influence on the role of women with a largely patriarchal order, India has seen a surge in independence from female workers, which is why it is so puzzling to many that the percentage could drop so quickly. “Economists have put forward two theories to explain the decline. The first is that India’s boom has created jobs in segments that are generally not accessible to women, like construction. The second has to do with culture: Unless their choices are dictated by destitute poverty, Indian families seek the status that comes from keeping women at home.”

The story featured in the article about two working women suggests that the second reason holds more gravity in India’s situation. Given the fact that by choosing to work, many women are being ostracized and harmed in their communities and their families threatened, the question then is how to balance state justice when it conflicts with caste justice and a long-standing social order. In order to ensure that the rights of these women to work are protected, and to ensure that corruption and violence are not pitted against them, one can’t help but wonder whether the Indian government and police force ought to be more present on a local level regardless the country’s high population, despite law enforcement’s feeling that “with 1.4 billion people…the police can’t stand behind every single person.”

 

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