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The ritual was well-established by the 10th century CE.During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Jyotirao Phule fought for the betterment of women.

Child marriage remains common in rural areas, although it is illegal under current Indian law.

Sati is an old, almost completely defunct custom among some communities, in which the widow was immolated alive on her husband's funeral pyre.

However, some instances of these practices are still found in remote parts of India.

The purdah is still practiced by Indian women in some communities.

Women's rights are secured under the Constitution of India — mainly, equality, dignity, and freedom from discrimination; further, India has various statutes governing the rights of women., the President of India, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the parliament) were women.

However, women in India continue to face numerous problems, including violent victimisation through rape, acid throwing, dowry killings, honor killings, marital rape, and the forced prostitution of young girls.

Missionaries' wives such as Martha Mault née Mead and her daughter Eliza Caldwell née Mault are rightly remembered for pioneering the education and training of girls in south India.

This practice was initially met with local resistance, as it flew in the face of tradition.

Raja Rammohan Roy's efforts led to the abolition of Sati under Governor-General William Cavendish-Bentinck in 1829.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's crusade for improvement in the situation of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856.

Peary Charan Sarkar, a former student of Hindu College, Calcutta and a member of "Young Bengal", set up the first free school for girls in India in 1847 in Barasat, a suburb of Calcutta (later the school was named Kalikrishna Girls' High School).