In a country where economic development is an issue, feminism is not given much regard. In a country where caste system has not completely eradicated, women’s issues in general are not considered very important but now increasingly women are beginning to speak up, women safety issues along with other kinds of issues associated with women are coming under the scanner. Furthermore, most recently, with the banned release of India’s Daughter, free speech in the context of women’s issues has also come under the scanner. In fact, recently, one person has had a FIR filed against him for showing the documentary despite orders that India’s Daughter cannot be shown. Hence, coming back to the point earlier made that in a country such as India, it can be asserted that the government has other priorities. To consider an interpretation of Rawls, who wrote a work of political philosophy and ethics called A Theory of Justice – “Rawls allows that under particularly dire conditions, when bare survival or the pursuit of the means for a minimally comfortable life is the dominant concern, and when the necessary prerequisites for the effective exercise of the basic liberties are lacking, it may be rational to sacrifice basic liberties for the sake of other goods such as increased security or economic development” (Tim Scanlon: 1999: 182) which can be applied to understand better the context of the ban of the Nirbhaya case and most importantly the ban of India’s Daughter.

In, India, when a woman comes across as being different by her sense of dress and attitude, she is the center of attention because she is not following the norm of behaving traditionally, let alone the fact that she has an occupation. Hence, the issue is not that she has an occupation and is earning money but she is not behaving along the norms of what womanhood ascribes. Women too sometimes turn up their noses in disgust when women don’t follow the traditional norms of womanhood. For many wonder why women want to join the work force, for example, as was shown by the Nirbhaya case, women are not necessarily safe to walk the roads at night. On an aside, there is in fact consideration to include an indicator as “Percentage of women and men who report feeling safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live,” which will form part of Goal 16, as part of the post-2015 development agenda, involving peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, as put forward by the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (March 20, 2015).

Similarly, in a country where women have to reconcile a lot before choosing a career, namely family responsibilities and so on, they must by all choose careers that also resonate with their own personal meaning that they want to derive from life. Not all women want to have careers in fields that have traditionally gained acceptance. Many do, ultimately want to become teachers and principals but one must realize that a career is a personal choice – one that must be in alignment with degrees earned and so on. People therefore must therefore be open-minded with regard to the choice of career apart from recognizing that women may choose to have a career.

In a country of such high amounts of diversity in terms of languages, food customs and marriage customs, it is amazing to see such close-minded views. However, for all those who are questioning along these lines, it important to note many things, namely the norm of patriarchy and the fact that women have consciously chosen to embrace the norms associated with womanhood and it has hence, garnered acceptance. It is those women who have careers as well are outwardly very unique in their behavior, they may have to try harder to find acceptance.

Hence, what India as a nation, especially masses in the cities have to increasingly reconcile is the fact that as in the past when Feminist movements were just beginning to spread across countries, it is those with the more open minds who realize that the lives of women can truly transition slightly from what traditional roles of womanhood ascribe. In the past, “there was a greater tendency to question the traditional role of women among those who had a critical attitude towards religion, belonged to a religious or ethnic minority, had close ties to people actively involved in social reform and opposition movements, had a certain level of education, or had a broader perspective as an immigrant or foreigner” (Paletschek, S. and Pietrow-Ennker, B. 2004: 317).


T.M. 1999. Rawls’ Theory of Justice in The Philosophy of Rawls: A Collection of Essays, eds. Henry S. Richardson and Paul J. Weithman, Garland Publishing, Inc, USA, pp. 169-205.

Paletschek, S. and Pietrow-Ennker, B. 2004. Women’s Emancipation Movements in Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century: Conclusions in Emancipation Movements in the Nineteenth Century: A European Perspective,eds., Sylvia Paletschek and Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Stanford University Press, USA,pp. 301-333.

(About the author: Nitya is a graduate of Claremont Colleges in California and has a post-graduate degree from the Australian National University in Canberra. Her areas of interest include anthropology, gender and the environment and she is keen to integrate her global perspectives with life in India. She believes that every mistake is just life’s way of making way for better).