From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/world/asia/rape-incites-women-to-fight-culture-in-india.html
NEW DELHI — Neha Kaul Mehra says she was only 7 years old the first time she was sexually harassed. She was walking to a dance class in an affluent neighborhood of New Delhi when a man confronted her and began openly masturbating.
The police patrolled a New Delhi rally on Sunday after the cremation of a woman whose rape prompted widespread protests.
That episode was far from the last. Years of verbal and physical sexual affronts left Ms. Mehra, now 29, filled with what she described as “impotent rage.”
Last week, she and thousands of Indian women like her poured that anger into public demonstrations, reacting to news of the gang rape of another young woman who had moved to the city from a small village, with a new life in front of her.
That woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, died Saturday from internal injuries inflicted with a metal rod during the rape, which took place on a bus two weeks ago.
In her story and its brutal ending, many women in the world’s largest democracy say they see themselves.
“That girl could have been any one of us,” said Sangeetha Saini, 44, who took her two teenage daughters to a candle-filled demonstration on Sunday in Delhi. Women in India “face harassment in public spaces, streets, on buses,” she said. “We can only tackle this by becoming Durga,” she added, referring to the female Hindu god who slays a demon.
Indian women have made impressive gains in recent years: maternal mortality rates have dropped, literacy rates and education levels have risen, and millions of women have joined the professional classes. But the women at the heart of the protest movement say it was born of their outraged realization that no matter how accomplished they become, or how hard they work, women here will never fully take part in the promise of a new and more prosperous India unless something fundamental about the culture changes.
Indeed, many women in India say they are still subject to regular harassment and assault during the day and are fearful of leaving their homes alone after dark. Now they are demanding that the government, and a police force that they say offers women little or no protection, do something about it.