By Elizabeth Willoughby on
In the aftermath of the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi, India earlier this month, television personality Padma Lakshmi predicts that change is on the horizon in her native land.
“I have to be optimistic, as a women, as an Indian, and I think the Internet and news programs really help,” Lakshmi said in an OutFront interview. “I think parliament understands that the world is watching, and to truly be respected as a world power they are going to have to tackle this subject head on.”
Lakshmi said she was sickened by the attack, but not surprised. “It brought back to me all of those feelings of when I was walking in Delhi. I hated going on a crowded bus because [men] would always pinch you or grab you. They have reserved seating for women on busses. That gives you an idea of the problem. You never feel safe. You never feel like, ‘I should just walk where I want because it’s my right.’ It doesn’t matter what your technical legal rights are. What matters is your safety and you just don’t feel like testing that.”
This vulnerability of gender is why her mother moved the family to America many years ago. “There was a lot of discrimination against single women, single mothers, divorcees. She would have had a very difficult life had she stayed in India,” said Lakshmi, who sees this problem as intrinsic to Indian culture and blames not only the body politic for its strength and endurance. She also criticized India’s law enforcement, whose policemen tell rape victims to marry their rapists since being a victim of rape carries with it a loss of honour and marriageability, and the judiciary’s lack of prosecution of rapists.
The recent outbreak of demonstrations is a significant shift in the female psyche, and to Lakshmi it’s a hopeful sign of things to come. “[Now India’s politicians] are going to have to explain to the world why they are a democracy and yet over half of their citizens are abused, assaulted and discriminated against.”
Copyright © 2013 Look to the Stars