Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 17th May-2021

Violence against women occurs throughout the life cycle from pre-birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood to old age. Discuss the social factors responsible for the increasing sexual abuses against women. What are the repercussions of violence against women?

India, the largest democracy of the world, which has adopted the longest written constitution and has a rich cultural heritage of gender equality, is today being criticized for having the most unsafe environment for women. The incidents of rapes, molestation, gender-based discrimination and other such atrocities against women have, unfortunately, become routine media headlines. There have been constitutional and statutory provisions to ensure that the women are not subjected to any kind of discrimination and harassment but there is an alarming trend indicating that the things are getting worse amounting to violation of right to life, liberty, dignity and equality of women across the country.

Treating Women as Inferior: Our society is still finding it difficult to accept even the basics of gender equality. We still have very high rates of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and domestic violence including marital rape. The notion that women are less important is deeply rooted in the minds of common people. This proves to be endemic because it leads to male superiority in the sense that women are there to serve men. So, the need is to bring down the idea of gender equality from the unheard articles of the Constitution to homes, schools, workplaces and everyday life because like everything else, change starts at the grass-root level.

Low Representation of Women: Research shows that having women in government can lead to more and better laws that safeguard women’s well-being. India’s population is 48% female. But women hold just 12% seats in national legislature. In short, women are nowhere to be seen. The key to making people accept the first point is to increase the representation of women in every sphere of life. They have been suppressed since centuries, so maybe it’s the right time to give them a hand while they try their hardest to rise.

The Lack of Gender Education: Indians generally are not comfortable talking about sexuality, reproductive rights, menstruation or sexual desire – anywhere – whether it is our home or our classroom or the workplace. Some small changes in adolescent education and even earlier in primary school might address the root cause of the problem. But our governments and society out rightly discard this because they hold the notion that sexual education equals to encouraging sex.

Ignoring the Relationship between Poverty and Violence: Whether it’s the Delhi rape case of 2012 or the recent one in Hyderabad, both cases seem to exhibit a pattern. This is a very critical issue to address the relationship between predatory sexual violence and urban destitution — an enormous, unsolved challenge in India. Being exposed to violence right from birth does not promote a sense of the integrity or the delicacy of the human body or respect for laws and moral values. It generates despair, anger, fury, a sense of desperate social rejection. This feeling of being rejected by the society perhaps leads to the breakdown in a sense of shared values and understanding of basic code of conduct. Although it is no excuse for the violence, maybe the brutalisation we are witnessing is a manifestation of the radical failure of current engagement of different start as of society. This issue demands an urgent call to action.

The Stigma and Blame Attached to Rape: After the Delhi rape case, some very prominent Indian politicians including an High Court Judge, emphasised the damage done to female dignity rather than the horrific violence, as if vaginal purity were the main casualty.

Similarly, the culture of victim blaming is equally disappointing. It is true that changing these attitudes – for instance, the tendency to question a woman’s clothes and conduct, suggesting she ‘invited’ or did not ‘resist’ rape – won’t happen overnight. But, the government can play a role in that change, and it must start now.

The Difficult Path to Justice: There are just too many laws in India and too little justice. The Verma committee formed after the Delhi rape case of 2012 recommended that rather than focusing on introducing new laws, the focus must be on implementation and sensitivity on the ground. If a woman is coming forward against the violence, then it becomes the duty of government and police that she must be provided with the protection (along with the witnesses) and counseling. Delayed trials, poor investigation, a low rate of conviction and impunity are some of the other areas which need improvement on the war-footing.

The repercussions of violence against women

  • Health Issue: Violence in any form affects not only physical mental sexual and reproductive health of women but also adversely affects their self-esteem, ability to work and make decisions about fertility.
  • Economic Issue: violence against women can have serious impact on economy of the household as well as of the nation.
    • Direct cost: loss of income, productivity, healthcare and cost of social services.
    • Indirect cost: Impact on child wellbeing, female and child mortality, intergenerational social and psychological cost.
  • Development Issue: Violence obstructs participation of women in development and planning programs both at micro and macro level.
    • Violence prevents women from experiencing or accessing the benefits of development by restricting their ability to act or move freely.
    • Violence against women is an obstruction to poverty alleviation programs as it impedes equitable distribution of resources.
  • Rights Issue:Any form of Violence against women hinders their realization of fundamental rights under article 14, 21, 19 and 32 of the Indian constitution.

The offences of rape and the sexual violation have notoriously low reporting rate in India. Underreported crime is due to the reason of disbelief in police and investigation system. As patriarchal legacies among the whole system of police and their attitude towards women especially in rape cases making it difficult for survivors to approach police. Survivors are often reluctant to make police reports for various reasons- undeniably fear of re-victimization by criminal justice professionals, survivor fear they will be shamed, disbelieved, coerced, retraumatized, or dismissed.

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