A boom and social change are pitting young working women in the city against men from conservative villages.
The recent resurgence of this issue had me looking through the archives and stumbled upon this 2011 article. As urban expansion is booming in many Indian cities, the modern city expands into the countryside. The cultural values of these two demographic groups are quite distinct. Young, educated women are part of the modern cities' workforce but in many conservative, traditional Indian villages, women working outside the home are seen as "lacking in virtue." In many of the recent gang rape cases, the perpetrators are less educated young men from surrounding villages and the victims are well-educated young working women that are a part of the new city.
Public spaces, especially at night, are seen as masculine spaces in most traditional societies. One of the mothers of an accused rapist succinctly explained this mindset thusly: "If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes." This is seen as 'Eve teasing,' where women are perceived as responsible for the violence committed against them to maintain social order. As another article hints, the outrage that this incident ignited could lead towards long-term change in Indian society.
This other NY Times article op-ed states, "India must work on changing a culture in which women are routinely devalued. Many are betrothed against their will as child brides, and many suffer cruelly, including acid attacks and burning, at the hands of husbands and family members. India, a rising economic power and the world’s largest democracy, can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence."