The Indian woman whose name we don’t yet know is dead. She was twenty-three years old, a medical student who’d gone with her male friend to see a movie at a Delhi mall on the evening of December 16. They stood at the Munirka bus stand, and when a bus pulled up, they stepped onto it. They didn’t realize until it was too late that it was not public transport but a private bus full of joy-riding men. Men who had been drinking. Men who had an iron bar. They used it to beat the man and – along with the weapons they were born with that make them the coveted sex in South Asia – rape the woman so violently that doctors had to remove her intestines. Two weeks after the attack, she died.
This in the land where goddesses’ lyrical names linger in the legends and lore: Lakshmi and Parvati, Durga and Kali, Saraswati and Shakti. They are celebrated and worshipped with holidays, festivals and shrines in their honor across the subcontinent. But little of their divine power seems to translate to ordinary women, who hang lower than their male counterparts on every social tier that is measurable.