Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2015

Thesis Advisor(s)

Betty C. Hanson; Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Honors Major

Political Science


Comparative and Foreign Law | Constitutional Law | Criminal Law | Family Law | Human Rights Law | Law and Gender | Law and Politics | Models and Methods | Political Science | Politics and Social Change | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies | Women's Studies


In December 2012, a twenty-three year old college student, who was given the pseudonym “Nirbhaya” (“fearless”), was fatally gang-raped on a private bus in Delhi, India, galvanizing the country to swiftly adopt new legislative measures and catapulting the issue of violence against women in India into the international spotlight. Although assault and rape cases have made India infamous for its high volume of crimes against women, the reaction to this particular incident was much different from before. This paper investigates whether the governmental and societal responses represent social change, as indicated by changing attitudes towards violence against women in India. I study this question by analyzing scholarly literature regarding the factors that affect collective attitudes towards violence against women. In addition, this paper examines collective attitudinal change in the nation as indicated by media coverage of rape cases, crime statistic reports, influence of women’s movements, impact of legislation, and public opinion polls. I find that despite an immediate backlash against the epidemic of sexual violence, the response has not contributed to a complete transformation in attitudes towards violence against women based on the indicators studied above.