Looking for 'big changes' in women's lot in India: Hillary

Washington, Jan 30 (IANS) Lamenting the double standards faced by women around the world, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hopes to see "big changes" in India following the horrific gang rape of an Indian woman in New Delhi.

"The young woman who essentially was raped and then died of her terrible injuries, who knows what she could have contributed to India's future?" she said Tuesday in what was described as a "Global Townterview" at the Newseum here.

"When you put barriers in the way of half the population, you, in effect, are putting brakes on your own development as a nation," Clinton said in response to a question from India about difficulties faced by woman politicians to access political space.

"I personally was very encouraged and even proud to see young men and young women out in the streets protesting the way that young women are treated by men who do not understand or have never been taught to accept that it's not just their sisters and their mothers that they should respect, but all girls and women," she said.

"So I'm looking for big changes in India in the years to come," added Clinton.

"Although it is better than it was," she said women still face "a double standard that exists from the trivial, like what you wear, to the incredibly serious, like women can't vote, women can't run for office, women are not supposed to be in the public sphere."

"But there is a spectrum of the double standard, and of the both legal and cultural barriers to respect for women, for the full participation of women."

"So we do have a ways to go, and even in democracies" like India "where women have achieved a lot of political success," Clinton said.

"There is still a tremendous amount of discrimination and just outright abuse of women, particularly uneducated women, women who can't stand up for themselves, but clearly, even as we saw in the terrible gang rape, a woman trying to better herself, go to school."

This has been the cause of her life, Clinton said, "and will continue to be as I leave the Secretary of State's office, because we are hurting ourselves."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)


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