While acknowledging glaring exceptions among individual women, the Indian subcontin-
ent - Pakistan, Afghanistan, India - seems to be the worst place on the planet to be born
female, in terms of being a generalized class of people. My focus here will be primarily
on India, and on what role pre-Islamic religious tradition may have played in their treat-
ment (the Islamic branch of hatred towards women, so apparent in Afghanistan and Pak-
istan today, can only be traced to the 7th c. AD, by which time a milder form seems to
have already been established in the subcontinent).
Indian women face higher mortality; poorer nutrition; lower literacy; lower life expec-
tancy; and declining sex-ratios (due to, 'euphemistically', a preference for boys). This is over and above the issue of violence and rape. In addition to being fraught with controversy,
due to the longevity of Indian history, competing analyses of texts, my own biases and ignorance, it is a problematic subject. To be fair, the Catholic church will never acknowledge 'the Goddess', or the supremacy given Mary by Jesus over all the disciples. They tried in vain, as well, to erase the cult of the black Madonna/Isis as it spread from the south of France, throughout Europe, into England. Moreover, both the current and former pope have cracked down, with a medieval mindset, on the largest umbrella group of American nuns, who were calling for a more enlightened Catholic church. Nevertheless, 'kitchen fires', and acid attacks, are not generally resorted to by Christian men. African women are brutalized as we speak, with the Congo, especially,
being the rape capital of the
world, however, in my opinion, this is a 30 year old, not an ancient, phenomenon. Centuries before Christanity, and Judaism, however, a patriarchal subcontinent seemed to have cemented in place a disdain for women, and this in spite of the reverence given to female deities.
(With sufficient disclaimers, hopefully), "The Vedas continue to guide the thinking of In-
dians in a profound way, with rural areas caught up in age-old traditions and practices
which suppress women." ("Women in India" - Sita Anantha Raman)