"The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it." Eleanor Roosevelt
India and the rest of the world have exploded over the tragic news of the woman who was sexually assaulted and killed in Delhi last month (Reported by the BBC). The story, which was initially both shocking and disturbing, has now evolved into something much bigger. The whole world’s eyes are now focused on Delhi, scrutinizing every level of its social order. Moreover, one of the questions raised as a result of this tragedy: is Delhi a safe city for women to live and work in? And furthermore, is Delhi a safe city for expatriate women to live and work in?

Delhi has become a thriving business hub, a relatively cosmopolitan city, and has expanded and developed at a considerably rapid rate. Equally, many now consider Delhi and Mumbai at the center of Business in Asia, with India’s powerhouse economy second only to China within the Asia Pacific region. Interestingly, Delhi’s image has previously been conveyed as a city of commerce, modern, fast- paced metropolitan living, whilst also maintaining a sense of its cultural identity, spirituality and customs. However, the report of the sexual assault and subsequent death of the 23 year old woman attacked in Delhi has now unearthed an unreported and more sinister side to Delhi. The publicity surrounding the story has urged more women to come forward with their own stories and experiences. Many women were and are still reluctant to report crimes of this nature to the authorities, for fear of the stigma accompanying these crimes against them, authorities reportedly do not pursue complaints and the process of pursuing a conviction are lengthy and can be distressing for the victim. Many are now questioning how safe Delhi really is, especially for women.

Moreover, the proportion of female expatriates living and working in Delhi is relatively low, but this number was increasing steadily. In the same way, the number of female senior executives was also growing slowly but steadily within India. We may now find with all the political turmoil, and unearthed anxiety surrounding the topic of women and women’s rights within India at the moment, that there is further regression as a result. Ultimately what we are likely to now see, are female expatriates being more cautious about relocating to India. Equally we are likely to see a tumultuous capital city, where the struggle for women may be even harder over the next few years, until changes and reforms are made. 

This article was written by by Helen Langley of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

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