Elimination of Gender-Based Violence

DEC 6

Mains   > Society   >   Role of women   >   Women and Child issues

IN NEWS:

  • Nai Chetna, a month-long nationwide campaign to tackle violence against women was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • Envisioned as a 'Jan Andolan' (people's movement), the campaign seeks to enable women to acknowledge gender-based violence, prepare them to raise their voices against it and guide them to seek support from various institutional mechanisms available to them.
  • This campaign will be implemented by all states in collaboration with CSO partners, and actively executed by all levels including the State, District, Block engaging the Community Institutions along with the extended community

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN INDIA:

  • Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.
  • Crime against women rose by 15.3% in 2021 from the previous year, according to latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), with 4,28,278 cases registered in 2021.
  • The NCRB report also shows that the rate of crime against women (number of incidents per 1 lakh population) increased from 56.5% in 2020 to 64.5% in 2021.
  • A majority of these cases (31.8%) fall in the category of “Cruelty by husband or his relatives’’, followed by “Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty” (20.8%), kidnapping and abduction (17.6%), and rape (7.4%).

MEASURES TO PROTECT WOMEN:

I. Constitutional:

  • Article 15 (3): The State shall make any special provision in favour of women and children.
  • Article 39 A: To promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
  • Article 42: The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
  • Article 51(A)(e): To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women

II. Legal:

  • Provisions in Indian Penal Code:
    • Section 354: Criminalises any act by a person that assaults or uses criminal force against a woman’s modesty.
    • Section 375 and 376D: Deals with matters related to rape and gang rape respectively. 
    • Section 509: Punishment for using a word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
    • Section 304B: deals with cases related to dowry deaths
    • Section 498A: punishes the husband/relative of the husband for subjecting a woman to cruelty. The cruelty can be either mental or physical torture.
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012
  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

Note: For detailed analysis, please visit the following links: 

II. Institutional:

  • National Commission for Women:
    • NCW is the statutory body of the Government of India concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women.
    • It recommends the remedial legislative measures, facilitates redressal of grievances and advises the government on all policy matters affecting women. It enjoys all the powers of a civil court.

IV. Others: 

  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao:
    • BBBP aims to address the issues of declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and enabling Girl Child education.
    • It aims to achieve the above through a mass campaign across the country targeted at changing societal mindsets & creating awareness about the criticality of the issue.
  • Nirbhaya Fund:
    • Government of India had set up a dedicated fund called ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ for implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security for women in the country.
    • “One Stop Centre (OSC) Scheme” implemented under the Nirbhaya Fund aim to facilitate women affected by violence with a range of integrated services under one roof such as Police facilitation, medical aid, providing legal and psycho-social counselling and temporary shelter.
  • UJJAWALA Scheme:
    • Ujjwala is a comprehensive scheme that was launched in 2007 for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Swadhar Greh Scheme:
    • The scheme focuses on establishing one SwadharGreh in each district, which provides shelter, food, clothing and health as well as economic and social security for women victims.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) – ‘SABLA’
    • It is a Centrally-sponsored scheme to meet nutritional needs and to provide vocational training for girls above 16 years of age for their economic empowerment.

WHY GENDER VIOLENCE PERSISTS?

  • Internalisation of gender bias:
    • Conservative social, cultural and religious ideas have kept women in an inferior position compared to men. Women tend to be submissive and subservient and normalise violence against them.
  • Deficit of basic infrastructures:
    • The lack of sufficient toilet facilities, limited transport facilities and long distances to workplace & schools increase the vulnerability to violence.
  • Financial dependence:
    • As per World Bank, in India, the gap between male and female labor force participation is 57%. This shows that majority of Indian women are almost completely dependent on their spouse/family.
  • Under reporting:
    • Despite laws to protect them, women do not report owing to fears such as loss of family prestige, retaliation, stigmatisation by the society and shaming by the police and judiciary.
  • Weak law enforcement:
    • Several legislative measures have been created but measures to enforce or review them have been slow.
    • For instance, while the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 mandates the creation of Internal Complaints Committees (ICC), monitoring the establishment of such ICCs is not in the scheme of measures. The underutilization of Nirbhaya fund is another instance.
  • Lack of awareness on legal recourse:
    • Legal awareness is a sine qua non to combat violence against women. However, due to factors like low education levels, economic dependence and complex legal system, women are unaware of the various measures in place for their protection.  
  • Delayed justice:
    • With over 3.4 crore pending cases, ours is one of the slowest judicial systems in the world. As time passes, victims tend to reconcile with the situation. Also, the perpetrators of the crime get enough time to influence the victims.
  • Poor victim & witness protection measures: 
    • Those who go ahead with the cases are humiliated by prosecutors. The inefficient witness protection mechanism either prevents the witness from helping the case or, as in many cases, makes them turn hostile.
  • Prevalence of extra judicial bodies:
    • Despite being declared illegal by the Supreme Court, Khap panchayats continue to dominate the judicial proceedings in the country, especially in the rural areas. Often, they come in conflict with the law, in cases such as caste-based discriminations and honor killing.
  • Growth of cyberspace:
    • Expansion of internet and social media has increased the vulnerability of women to cyber frauds, trafficking etc.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Gender sensitisation:
    • Sensitisation should be made a part of the school curriculum from primary school onwards. There should also be a robust conversation around men, be it within their families, public for a or workplaces.
  • Community participation:
    • There should be strong community driven measures to address the problem of culture of misogyny and normalised aggressiveness towards women.
  • Capacity building:
    • There is a need to develop support systems for survivors through more swadhar homes, medical facilities and skill training facilities.
    • The police force and social service institutions have to be better trained to deal with survivors of violence.
  • Ensure cyber security:
    • India needs to bridge the digital divide among people and ensure that the cyber space is safe for all. For this, holistic cyber security policies and mass awareness campaigns needs to be in place. 
  • Draft National Policy for Women:
    • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has prepared the draft National Policy for Women which envisions a society in which women attain their full potential and are able to participate as equal partners in all spheres of life.
    • The draft policy addresses the diverse needs of women through identified priority areas:
      1. Health including food security and nutrition
      2. Education
      3. Economy (including agriculture industry, labour, employment, NRI women, soft power, service sector, science and technology)
      4. Governance and decision making
      5. Violence Against Women
      6. Enabling environment (including housing, shelter and infrastructure, drinking water and sanitation, media and culture, sports and social security)  
      7. Environment and climate change
  • Learn from experience:
    • The Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiative (SWATI) in Gujarat, which works to prevent domestic violence in collaboration with the rural healthcare system is a successful example of mass mobilisation by women that transcend class and caste considerations.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q. What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (GS 1, 2019)

Q. Analyse the reasons behind Gender-based violence in India and suggest measures to eradicate them.