My heart shattered into a zillion tiny pieces when I learned of last year’s brutal gang rape in New Delhi, India. A 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern had gone with her male friend to see “Life of Pi” at a movie theater. After the film, the pair boarded a bus for a ride home. Little did they know it would turn into the ride from Hell.
The woman was brutally beaten and raped with a rod, to the point of losing most of her intestines – and her male companion was also assaulted and seriously injured. Six men riding in the bus, including the driver, all raped the woman. She died from her injuries 13 days later, on Dec. 29, 2012, while undergoing emergency medical treatment in Singapore.
Although this could happen anywhere, sexual crimes against women are common – and often not prosecuted to the highest degree – in India. Thankfully, the Indian government has charged all of this woman’s rapists with murder – but what about those women who never see justice served? Scores of women around the world suffer from inequalities, including horrors like genital mutilation and acid attacks. That’s why this Fourth of July, as the United States celebrates its independence, I’m thankful to be an American woman.
While violence against women is a problem in every country, the United States strives to protect its women and our freedoms. This Fourth of July, I’m reflecting on what it means to be a modern woman in the United States.
Here, American women are simultaneously valued for their minds and their bodies. As a freelance writer and public relations coordinator, my clients trust me for my education, my knowledge and my insights. As a part-time model, I am also appreciated for my 1950s-style pinup look.
In this country, our most important freedom is our freedom of choice. American women can choose higher education, or they can stop at high school. They can choose to become a mother, or remain childless. They can wear strapless dresses, color their hair purple, and paint their eyelids blue – or they can go without makeup or Louboutins.
American women can choose to marry – or enjoy single life. More importantly, they can marry for love rather than for convenience. And once they’re married, they can choose to work both inside and outside the home. They can vote in each election – or choose never to vote (but who would want her voice ignored?).
These are just some of the freedoms that American women should never take for granted. We still have a ways to go before we’re equal to men (salary raises, anyone?) – but as a woman, there’s no other country in which I’d rather reside. I’ll be thankful for my country until the day I die.