this article was also posted today by thestar.com
Trustlaw is the Reuters/Thomson foundation for good governance (they publish the corruption index) and women's rights, and it sponsored the poll listed in this article about the most dangerous places in the world for women - they also sponsor conferences on trafficking, womens rights, fgm, forced marriage, slavery, and the effect on women of economic trends, as well as transgender rights and other gender issues. They are a useful source of information on world trends. mb
By Frank Jack Daniel and Satarupa Bhattacharjya
NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Comments by an Indian spiritual leader that a gang-rape victim shared blame for her assault disgusted many in a country shaken by the crime, but his view represents a deep streak of chauvinism shared by a broad swathe of a society in transition.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student and a male companion were left bleeding on a highway after she was raped and beaten on a moving bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital from internal injuries.
"Guilt is not one-sided," the guru, Asaram Bapu, told followers this week, adding that if the student had pleaded with her six attackers in God's name, and told them she was of the "weaker sex", they would have relented.
Such views have caused outrage among India's growing urban middle class. Protesters burned effigies of the yoga guru near his headquarters in western India, media reported, and Twitter exploded with posts calling him "medieval" and a "misogynist".
But he is not alone. Similar opinions are being expressed by leaders in the mainstream of society, not just on the fringes. Some politicians have called on schoolgirls not to wear skirts and told women to dress soberly and not venture out at night.
Before last month's gang rape caused shockwaves, it was common for police to point the finger of blame in sex crime cases at women's clothing, or the fact that they worked alongside men.
Such views are not unique to India but they point to growing discomfort among some conservatives about a perceived erosion of traditional values in fast-changing cities where Western ways are gaining popularity.
President Pranab Mukherjee's son described women who protested against violence in New Delhi's streets in the days after the rape as "dented and painted". He said the protests had "very little connection with ground reality".
New Delhi and other cities have seen a considerable crumbling of caste and gender barriers over the past decade, creating more opportunities for social mobility and a more open culture with women playing a larger role.
But just a few miles from the capital, village councils with the power to set local laws made headlines last year by banning women from using mobile phones and wearing jeans.
A global poll of experts last year by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, showed India to be the worst place among G20 countries to be a woman.
Activists say most sex crimes in India go unreported, and official data show that almost all go unpunished. Reported rape cases rose nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.