Not only is gender-based violence on the rise, it has also taken on insidious forms that are justified in the name of faith, community, even development. In the run-up to the 16 Days Campaign against gender-based violence which begins November 25, Infochange provides a primer on violence against women
It would be extremely naïve to say that violence against women does not exist. Despite the ostensible acceptance of women being equal to men, and a plethora of laws and human rights guarantees, violence against women (VAW), which is also referred to as gender-based violence (GBV), is a reality that has assumed huge proportions. Not only does violence against women exist, in our vocabulary of progress it has taken on insidious forms that are justified in the name of faith, community, even development.
A quick look through the daily newspapers will give us an idea of the epic proportions the phenomenon has taken. Sample some of these facts from around the world:
*At least one out of three women has been beaten, forced into sex, or abused during her lifetime, according to a study based on 50 surveys from around the world. On most occasions, the abuser was a member of the woman’s family or someone known to her.
*One woman in four has been abused during pregnancy.
*More than 60 million women worldwide are considered ‘missing’ as a result of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, according to an estimate by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
*The World Health Organisation has reported that up to 70% of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.
*Interpersonal violence was the 10th leading cause of death among women between the ages of 15 and 44, in 1998.
*Population-based studies report that between 12 and 25% of women have experienced attempted or completed forced sex by an intimate partner or ex-partner at some point in their lives.
And, in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) 2005 Crime Clock, there is:
*1 crime committed against women every three minutes
*1 molestation case every 15 minutes
*1 sexual harassment case every 53 minutes
*1 kidnapping and abduction case every 23 minutes
*1 rape case every 29 minutes
And those are only the reported and recorded statistics. What’s more:
*Four out of 10 women in India have experienced violence in the home.
*45% of women have suffered at least one incident of physical or psychological violence in their life.
*26% have experienced at least one moderate form of physical violence.
*More than 50% of pregnant women have experienced severe violent physical injuries.
*According to the NCRB, approximately 6,000 women are killed in India every year because of dowry. Unofficial estimates are as high as 15,000 deaths a year. In other words, between 16 and 40 women die every day because of dowry.
Shocking as these figures are, they are actually a gross underestimation of the actual situation, because crimes against women are highly under-reported. In India, there are 496,514,346 (2001 Census of India) girls and women. If all of them experience sexual harassment just once a year, and report it, the figure would be staggering.