A recent report from the British medical journal The Lancet reports that over 100,000 women died in fires in India in a single year (see New York Times article). These fires stem from a serious domestic abuse issues in India in which women are doused in gasoline and set ablaze, their deaths blamed on “kitchen accidents.” Domestic abuse as become a major problem in the country, as women are often killed over dowry disputes, with no repercussions sought against the men who are responsible for the killings. Women rights activists blame the Indian government for not doing enough to address the problem.
This brings about issues of justice and women’s rights. Susan Moller Okin writes in her work on gender and justice that “until there is justice within the family, women will not be able to gain equality in politics, at work, or in any other sphere.” This is true on an international scale as well as domestic. Until women are viewed as equal within the family, injustice will reign in all domains. Women must be granted the same opportunities to develop their capacities as human beings, participate fully in society, and influence social choices.
Oftentimes women’s rights can take a myopic view, with struggles for inequality within one’s own country taking precedence. However, to truly adopt a genuine view of social justice, Okin tells us that justice is not simply a “view from nowhere” but instead is derived from accounting for everyone’s point of view. Therefore a true struggle for women’s equality must address the inequality present in places such as India as well as on a domestic front.
New York Times article
Susan Okin on women and human rights