Narendra Modi as prime minister would roll back women’s rights in India
India’s general election begins next week, and Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the rightwing Bharatiya Janata party, is said to have a good chance of winning. If this happens, Modi’s political party and other member organisations of the Sangh Parivar family of Hindu right organisations, will consolidate their powerful grip on India’s institutions.
Gender violence and women’s rights continue to be highlighted in India by the massive anti-rape movement which arose in the wake of the horrificgang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in December 2012. How will this movement and its key demand of “freedom without fear” for women be affected if Modi becomes prime minister?
The Sangh Parivar approach to women’s rights and gender violence is clearly illustrated by women’s status in Gujarat, the state where Modi has been chief minister for 13 years and which he projects as a model of development. According to 2011 census figures, Gujarat has 918 women for every 1,000 men, below the national average of 940, hinting at a high level of female infanticide. School enrolment of girls is lower and malnutrition among children higher than nationwide. As for violence against women, the state conviction rate for rape and abduction of women are among the lowest in India.
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