Women in Punbad

Punjab has been a hotspot of human rights violations and activism since the birth of the Indian nation in 1947. The history of human rights abuses in the state has contributed significantly to the present economic, environmental and medical crisis in Punjab.

In this multi-part series, we explore the emergent issues in the state, with a focus on farmer suicides, female feticide and infanticide, ecological damage, river water rights, rising rates of diseases, mental health, and drug and alcohol abuse.


Violence against women is a part of India’s cultural heritage.The general malaise that infects the entire country is now rooted in the state of Punjab as well.

In 2009 alone, India's Ministry of Home Affairs reported 21,397 cases of rape, 25,741 cases of female abduction, 38,711 cases of molestation, and 89,546 reports of cruelty by husbands and relatives; 203,804 cases of crimes against women were registered in India.

Furthermore, the patriarchal nature of Indian society results in severe underreporting of violence against women.

A recent study found that over 70% of crimes against women went unreported due to fear of stigma or repercussions.

In Punjab, the increase of violence against women has coincided with the economic decline over the past several decades. Females are considered to be an economic burden, and documented cases of female infanticide have surged to alarming levels.

This mentality is represented by the popularized Punjabi phrase: "Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbor’s garden.”

Finally, rising levels of drug and alcohol abuse have contributed significantly to violence against women.

The role of women in Punjabi society has changed dramatically over the past century. Prior to the Green Revolution, women were an invaluable source of productivity within the home and the public sphere. In post-Green Revolution Punjabi agricultural societies, women’s roles on farms have largely been replaced by technology, and...