Elimination Of Violence Against Women-International Commitment To End An Era Of Gender Injustice
By:- Amir Iqbal Khan
To mention the truth, it is ironical that in a land where goddesses are worshipped and are epitomised as feministic supernatural beings, the crime rate against women is so high. In realistic approach, every religion in the world imbibes the ‘women folk’ as the most respectable creatures in the human kind(Homo sapiens), but surprisingly the way ‘She’ is treated by her counterparts is presenting a horrendous picture around the globe. The violence of every sort is meted out to her.
The UN General Assembly in 1999 designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, inviting governments, international organisations and NGO’s to hold activities designed to raise public awareness of the issue on this day.This event was first organised in Rome where around 150 thousand participants for the third Non UNA Di Meno ( Italian chapter of Ni Una Menos Association) March for the international day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and against Pillon Decree, which took place from Piazza Della Repubblica to Piazza San……
As far human rights, Violence against Women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most wide spread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today which remains largely un reported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.
Women have always been the most vulnerable and oft-exploited section of the society in any age, time, place and society. In ancient times, due to the lack of opportunities and health facilities, low status of women became a vicious circle that needed to be broken to enhance the development of India. Since ages, women have been the victims of humiliation, torture, exploitation and violence.
Violence does not merely mean application of physical force, it can be mental, psychological and emotional as well. Violence in its broadest sense has been described as an act of a person, which encroaches upon the freedom of another. But with the passage of time, society is now awakening to its responsibility towards women. “She means the world” promoting empowerment of women may seem just one of the goal, but this aspect is crucial for the success of several other reforms.
Violence can be an overt threat or an overt application of force, which aims at harming or destroying a person or his reputation. Even the intent of causing harm and injury, to someone is considered as an act of violence. The other problems being bias in job, sexual harassment, domestic violence, marital discord which hampers the women’s development. Juxtaposed to this ‘Women Empowerment’ is the need of the hour, which means increasing the power of women socially, economically and politically.
The enactment of appropriate laws to improve the status of women is today’s burning need. Former Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru had said, “One can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.”
Violence against women can be categorised under three broad categories.
(i) Criminal Violence as rape, abduction or murder (ii) Domestic Violence which includes dowry deaths, wife battering, sexual abuse, maltreatment of widows or elderly women and lastly (iii) Social Violence which includes forcing a wife or daughter-in-law to go for female foeticide, eve-teasing, refusing to give a share to women in property, forcing a woman to commit Sati, forcing her into marriage for business interests or family honour or harassing a woman for any other reason.
The Police Research Bureau, Delhi divides crime against women under two categories crimes under the Indian Penal Code and crimes under local and special laws. Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), seven crimes such as rape, kidnapping, abduction, homicide for dowry, physical as well as mental torture, molestation and eve-teasing are covered. Forcing Sati, harassment for dowry, immoral trafficking and indecent representation of women fall under local and special laws.
In fact, it has been seen that women are abused and victimised mostly by men known to them. According to a recent survey, India is the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world, primarily due to a high number of female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking cases. As per the UN Population Fund, up to 50 million girls were thought to be ‘missing’ from the country over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (India) statistics on crime against women in India, a total of 2,44,270 incidents of crimes against women (both under IPC and other laws) were reported in the country during 2012 as compared to 2,28,650 in 2011. About 24,923 were the cases of rape alone, out of which offenders were known to the victims in as many as 24,470 (98.2%) cases.
It is not for nothing that the statistics are alarming and shocking. One must acknowledge that these are the reported cases. There are a host of other instances of violence, which go unreported due to fear of further violence, social stigma or even death. Violent crimes against women have been on an increase.
Marya Muqaddas Malik-a lawyer by profession says,”Indian women who increasingly refused to be trapped in a bad situation and were shedding silent tears reflect the long overdue empowerment of women.” ” Law is a tool , for women empowerment and their better representation”, which is must for a social change, she observes adding,”There are various examples to prove that the laws have made women eligible for different roles in the world affairs, today, Hindu women have options to walk out of a bad marriage rather than live , unhappily. Several provisions of ‘Hindu Marriage Act, 1955’ laid down provisions of divorce and empowered the women to say goodbye to their long sufferings. The Act has several provisions relating to registration of marriage, restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation and various grounds of divorce,” She further added while explaining,
“Today, women can get a share in the ancestral property due to an amendment in ‘Hindu Succession Act, 1956’. There are other laws as well for strengthening the women power, such as ‘Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956’. As per the ‘Muslim Shariyat Act, 1937’, a Muslim woman can opt for divorce according to her will and can get maintenance in the form of ‘Mehar”.
Another stark reality is the Dowry. An ever increasing number of women in the urban areas are openly coming out against it. A new provision of free education for girls from primary to higher studies has been made for those girls who are single child of their parents. It aims to increase the literacy rate as well as sex ratio of girls. Also, with changing times, for empowerment of women, a number of laws have been amended and formulated such as the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956; the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 the Commission of Sati , (Prevention) Act, 1987; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence, Act 2005 Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005 and the Prohibition of Sexual Harassment ’ of Women Bill, 2010. However, despite the existing laws much is left desired.
Through Women Reservation, 33% of the seats for women are reserved in the Lower House of Parliament of India, Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. Though the laws are said to grant justice to the innocent, sadly it is not wholly true in many cases involving crime against women. Cases linger on for years and in many cases, due to political influence, criminals get away scot-free. Example being Jessica Lai murder case, wherein Jessica was shot dead by Manu Sharma in front of 300 guests.
However, Manu, the son of a wealthy politician, was acquitted by the court due to ‘lack of evidence!’ It was only after the public and media’s pressure that the case got reopened and the culprit was given life imprisonment. Delhi gang rape of December, 2012 became a turning point in the prolonged history of violence against women. In the aftermath of this crime, media has increased such reportings and has helped people to unite against a cause.
Nationwide protest had forced the judiciary to improve vigilance, speed up trials and reform laws. These are just some of the several incidents that the country watches every day where women be it a 3 year old girl or a senior citizenre the helpless victims.
Nearly 1 in 3 women have been abused in their lifetime. In times of crises, the numbers rise, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent humanitarian crises, conflicts and climate disasters. A new report from UN Women, based on data from 13 countries since the pandemic, shows that 2 in 3 women reported that they or a woman they know experienced some form of violence and are more likely to face food insecurity. Only 1 in 10 women said that victims would go to the police for help.
As regards the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging data and reports show that all types of violence against women and girls, mainly domestic violence has increased. As per the UN, this is often the Shadow Pandemic which is growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, at the global level, a collective effort should be taken to prevent it. While pervasive, gender-based violence is not inevitable. It can and must be prevented. Stopping this violence starts with believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transform harmful social norms and empower women and girls. With survivor-centred essential services across policing, justice, health, and social sectors, and sufficient financing for the women’s rights agenda, we can end gender-based violence.
To raise awareness, last year’s theme was “Orange the World: End Violence against Women!”. Orange is a color to represent a brighter future free of violence against women and girls.
The campaign, led by the UN Secretary-General and UN Women Council since 2008, aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world, calling for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.
As per an analysis, across the globe, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year. And less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.
Women always have to be on their guard be it in park, public transport, cinema hall, educational institute or work place. The condition of the rural women is even worse as in the absence of education and awareness, they are greater victims of the injustices meted out to them. The government ushered in the new millennium by declaring 2001 as the ‘Women Empowerment Year’. True, with economic independence women are making their mark in many areas like sports, literature, science, arts, journalism, politics and business world.
It is equally worthwhile that economic independence has added to her confidence to march ahead and conquer the world, but the daily battles that she fights everyday on this journey are not only painful, but disgusting. It is only by creating awareness among women and society at large that the growing rate of violence against women can be stopped in all sections uniformly and India can actually become great when this gender injustice ends to usher an era of equality in all its manifestations.