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Gender- based violence against women is among the most egregious and commonly experienced abuses of women’s rights. Intimate partner violence, female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage and violence as a weapon of war, sexual and gender-based violence, are a major public health concern across the world, a barrier to women’s empowerment and gender equality, and a constraint on individual and societal development, with high economic costs.

 Gender based violence against Women:

  • In 2019, 400,000 cases of crimes against women were reported, up from about 378,000 in 2018. These account for only 10% of the crimes against women.The conviction rate for rape cases is a dismal 30%.

  •  Reason for crimes against women:
  • Entrenched Patriarchy: India is a deeply patriarchal society. Popular culture equates masculinity with sexual aggression and encourages men and boys to bully and harass women, even rape them, to “tame” them and teach them a lesson.Justice system: It is a social fact that the criminal legal system often merely re-arranges a system of illegalities. For example, rape survivors are routinely pressurized to “compromise” illegally and turn hostile in trials, failing which they may be threatened or even killed.Humiliation to victim: Victims, instead of getting justice, had to face several unnecessary humiliating questions.Crime in home: Most crimes still happen within the confines of homes & victims are raped by people they know well like relatives/friends/etc, most of these cases don’t even make it to the statistics.No preventive measures: In case of any crime committed against women, the discussion always goes towards punishment for the crime only, but never towards the prevention of crime.

  •  Rethinking policies to make safer spaces:
  • Law enforcement must swiftly bring the perpetrators to book and state governments must ascertain areas of high crime rates and double safety protocols in those areas.Men and young boys must be brought into the conversation to dismantle patriarchy and power structures that destroy the lives of women.Plugging Gaps in Justice Delivery: The most severe gaps in the justice delivery system are reporting a police complaint. Therefore, the focus of the criminal justice system needs to shift from sentencing and punishment to the stages of reporting, investigation, and victim-support mechanisms.Allocation of resources and more robust implementation of the law than is currently evident.Sensitisation at a Broader Level: Despite the ever-increasing ambit of the death sentence, there has been little effort to address prejudices in society.Addressing the prejudices in the society against sexual offences requires sensitisation of functionaries of the justice system & more importantly society.Victim protection: Adequate protection must be given to the victim until the case is closed to ensure they are not threatened.

  •  Role of men against the issue of sexual violence against women:
  • Promoting gender equality is a critical part of violence prevention.School initiatives are well placed to prevent violence against women.School-based programmes can address gender norms and attitudes before they become deeply ingrained in children and youth.Community interventions can empower women and engage with men.Community interventions can address gender norms and attitudes through, for example, the combination of microfinance schemes for women and methods that empower men as partners against gender-based violence.Media interventions can alter gender norms and promote women’s rights.Public awareness campaigns and other interventions delivered via television, radio, newspapers and other mass media can be effective for altering attitudes towards gender norms.Programmes must engage males and females.There is some evidence that microfinance schemes that empower women (without engaging with men) may actually cause friction and conflict between partners, especially in societies with rigid gender roles.

  •  Way forward:
  • Addressing the deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes of the police, lawyer and other judicial officers that continues to contribute to low reporting and conviction rates.Bridging the gap between GBV laws and its correlated areas such as legal rights to property, land, inheritance, employment and income that allows a woman to walk out of an abusive relationship and specific emphasis on political and economic participation of women.Systematic intervention for multisectoral linkages between Health sector (medical and psychosocial support), Social Welfare sector (Shelters, counselling and economic support/skill).Recognize sexual and reproductive health and rights by promotion and protection of women’s right to have control and decide freely over matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, family-planning choices and access to comprehensive sexuality education.Reclaiming the spaces for women to increase their presence in visibility through political and economic participation and diversifying their engagement in non-traditional sectors.Use of technology and emerging concepts such as Smart City in urban policy for ensuring safer and gender friendly infrastructures and spaces that prevents GBV.

  •  Safety of women is of utmost important to ensure that the society will prosper. The extent of violence against women in India is shameful, and shows little sign of abating. While, as a community, it is possible to pass laws to criminalise the violence, law alone will not ask men to respect the opposite gender. What needs to be ingrained in the society is this “stronger people don’t put others down; they lift them up”.


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