Insights- underlying factors in India and Kenya
In my experience as an American living in India and Kenya, there was a huge factor that stood out to me about each of these two locations: in Kenya, behavior seemed to revolve around money; in India, around gender/sex. Women's safety stood out as issues in both of these places (both to me as a resident, and to the development community as a whole), however the intention and nature behind these issues seemed to vary.
In Kenya, it seemed that money was the driving factor behind a woman's vulnerability. In many parts of Kenya (but Nairobi especially), I was most aware of the possibility of getting mugged, but not nearly as worried about getting raped. Equally, in my personal interactions with many other women, much of their own stories seemed to start with them putting themselves in a vulnerable position in an effort to make money for their families. A common example of this was women that would prostitute themselves, but get harassed in the process, not be allowed to use protection, get beat up, etc. Though these women hated the extra risk that came with prostitution, they did it anyway to try to get money.
In India, I was struck by my own feeling of insecurity around men, not to mention the gender insecurity that was palpable in society as a whole. There, merely by existing, I felt like I was putting myself in a vulnerable positon. By walking on the street, I was making myself available for auto drivers to reach out and grope me. By taking a train, I was inherently putting myself into a context where men would walk at me with their hands at breast-level, already cupped as if they wouldn't have time when they reached me. I'm just not content to believe that those men had eaten too much chow-mein (which was, while I was there, cited as one of a few causes of rape) or that my clothing was too womanly or Western. It wasn't.
In Kenya, sex was part of the culture. In India despite the hugely publicized conversation about rape, sex didn't seem to factor in. Both of these aspects are highly relevant in their respective cultures; how can we use them as relevant insights? Have you experienced or noticed these underlying themes in India or Kenya? What about other countries?