The treatment of Hindu women varies widely depending on their social status and their location, with wealthier women in more developed areas generally faring better than poor, rural-dwelling women. Traditionally, Hinduism tends to see women as subservient to men.
Hinduism's attitude towards women is complicated, with many apparent contradictions. Many of the most powerful and beloved deities in Hinduism are female. However, many religious texts treat women as inferior beings and state that women's only role is to support their husbands and bear children. Hindus believe in reincarnation, and some texts state that women must be reborn as men before they can make any spiritual progress. Women are also considered ritually impure at times.
These beliefs have led to severe mistreatment. Since women's only role was to support their husbands, widows have faced especially poor treatment. Many were shunned and treated as untouchable, and this practice continues in some areas as of 2015. Historically, some widows were encouraged or forced to commit suicide.
Taboos about menstruation are still a significant barrier to modern Hindu women, particularly in rural areas of India. They are often forced to sleep outside or in small unprotected huts, where they are vulnerable to attack. They also struggle to get adequate sanitary products, which can cause infection, and they may have to miss school or work.
However, as of 2015, Hinduism is slowly beginning to treat women as equals. Menstrual and widowhood taboos are becoming less widespread, and Hindu women are able to seek education and employment.