Ghaziabad: The young lovers met at a secluded spot next to a field of wheat at the edge of this sprawling suburb of New Delhi, where the timeless India of mustard fields and bullock carts abuts the frantically rising apartment towers of the budding middle class. They went seeking solitude, but instead found themselves at the violent cusp of old India and new.
There, according to the police, five drunken young men from a nearby farming village accosted the couple last month, beating the young man and gang-raping the woman. It was the latest in a series of brutal sexual assaults and gang rapes of women in India’s booming capital and its sprawling suburbs.
In each case there has been an explosive clash between the rapidly modernizing city and the embattled, conservative village culture upon which the capital increasingly encroaches. The victims are almost invariably young, educated working women who are enjoying freedom unknown even a decade ago. The accused are almost always young high school dropouts from surrounding villages, where women who work outside the home are often seen as lacking in virtue and therefore deserving of harassment and even rape.