We celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March every year. On this day, everyone talks about women’s empowerment and praises women for their contribution and achievements.
There is no doubt that women are growing and shining, bagging a lot more success for themselves and bringing pride to our country. But behind this beautiful celebration of women’s day, let’s not forget that a large portion of women are suffering from domestic violence, sexual abuse, harassment, are being tortured by their in-laws for dowry, etc.
There are different types of violence a woman faces at different levels of life, even before her birth. There is an economic and cultural preference for sons in our society, which leads to female feticide and infanticide.
At their school-going age, many girls are not even given access to completion of proper primary and secondary education as compared to boys. Also, girls suffer from discrimination at the hands of parents and teachers in their upbringing. Many adolescent girls become survivors of sexual abuse and harassment on the internet and in their day-to-day life; they also face violence, acid attack, rapes, early marriage, etc.
After marriage, many women are tortured physically, mentally, economically and emotionally by their husbands and in-laws. Women often suffer from exploitation, unequal pay and opportunities at the workplace, and lack of promotions despite having merits and physical, emotional and economic abuse.
In all these types of violence, women suffer quietly. They are silenced or suppressed even if they raise their voice against it. They are often ignorant of her rights to fight against these crimes and what remedies are present in law to protect them. And some of them don’t complain because of the fear of the family’s respect and recognition. Approximately one in three women experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by their intimate partner.
Almost 30% of women have experienced physical violence from the age of 15, 6% have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. 4% of ever-pregnant women have experienced physical violence during their pregnancy. Among married women, 30% of them have gone through physical, sexual or emotional violence from their spouses. The most common among these are physical violence (30%) and emotional violence (14%), followed by sexual violence (7%).
According to a statistics report released by India’s National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), 3,78,277 crimes were committed against women in India in 2018. And the total crime rate against women was 58.8%.
After the implementation of lockdown, domestic violence increased extensively across the world. Even in India, the rates of domestic violence have increased after the lockdown. At the beginning of the nation-wide lockdown, 257 reports of different offences against women were received by National Commission for Women (NCW), out of which 69 cases have been reported as Domestic Violence.
According to the chairperson of NCW, the highest numbers of cases were registered from Punjab and all these were reported through email. In Delhi, 2,500 women calls have been received from emergency helpline number out of which 600 have been classified as cases of women abuse, 23 calls have been recorded as rapes and almost 1,612 have been reported as domestic violence.
According to the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) report, the maximum numbers of domestic violence cases have been received from Uttarakhand, followed by Haryana and Delhi. Since March 2020, crimes against women have increased by 21%, from 4,709 to 5,695. Cases of domestic violence also increased from 3,287 to 3,993 during the lockdown.
Addressing domestic violence has become an urgent issue for the government and society as it is considered a public health crisis and a criminal act. Several states have launched their helpline to help women facing domestic violence. While the laws can provide a partial solution to these problems, we need to change our mindsets to eradicate this issue.
Several laws protect a married woman from abuse and violence from her husband or her husband’s relatives:
The government of India provides several laws to protect women. Many NGOs are also working to make women aware of their legal rights to protect them from domestic violence, abuse, harassment, etc. While analysing these laws practically, one will get to know that women need to go through a lengthy and painful process to get justice.
These laws are not sufficient to find the solution to all the violence, abuse and discrimination. We need to bring societal change and change in the attitude of every individual.
Domestic violence or dowry-related abuses done by partners or in-laws can be stopped if other women of the family raise a voice against it. Sadly, women are considered inferior to men and don’t have the right to put their thoughts across. The women who suffer from all this violence consider it the man’s right to punish them for their deeds.
Here, women need to be well aware of their legal, political and economic rights. Every woman should be financially independent and should learn to raise their voices for themselves. Most importantly, our society should evolve and start treating women equally, respecting their choices and decisions. Only then we can say that our country has real women empowerment.