Did the foreigners see me trying not to cry? I am 42, with a family of my own. I've crisscrossed India, usually alone, for nearly 20 years. The stories women tell me, and the daily stories of my own life, are of a society in which public space has been marked as the territory of men.
For women in India, the safety statistics are grim. The National Crime Records Bureau in 2011 reported 228,650 crimes against women, including murder, rape, kidnapping, and sexual harassment. That year an international survey ranked India the world's fourth most dangerous country for women, behind only Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Pakistan. The treatment of women in public has been a frustration for generations, but it was the case of Jyoti Singh, the woman also known as Nirbhaya, that caused something to break in India -- a long-held willingness to accept danger to women as part of daily life.