November 25 is observed as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This year assumes great significance amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During the unprecedented lockdown, countries across the world reported increased cases of domestic violence. Women’s organizations and rights bodies are pushing governments to take measures to protect young girls and women caught in the cycle of violence. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a United Nations designated day observed every year on November 25. In a big push, this year the UN has given a clarion call for ending gender based violence. The 2020 campaign theme is ‘FUND, RESPOND, PREVENT, COLLECT’. Like every year, ’16 Days of Activism’ against Gender-Based Violence (GVB) campaign starts today and ends on December 10. The UN Women – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – is working closely with violence survivors, activists, all the stakeholders and people from every walk of life to fund, reach-out and respond faster. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu also made a call to end violence against women; he said ‘Where women are respected, divinity blossoms there’.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW)
- It is observed every year across the world on 25 November.
- The aim is too raise awareness about violence against women and girls, end violence against women. It also seeks to show that prevention is possible against violence of women.
- The 2020 theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is ‘’Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect’
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December 1999.
- This day is commemorated in memory of Mirabal sisters who were three political activists from Dominican Republic. They were brutally assassinated during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961) in 1960.
Violence against women- definition:
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
- 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.
- Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
- Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).
- 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.
- 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited.
- Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.
How grave the situation is? Why we must eliminate violence against women?
- Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today, remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.
- In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing:
- Intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide).
- Sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber- harassment).
- Human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation).
- Female genital mutilation.
- Child marriage.
- The violence which goes unnoticed apart of physical and sexual violence is the emotional and mental violence that women face.
- The biggest share of this violence goes to husband or in-laws.
- A lot of violence is also faced by girls at workplace and at home.
- Violence against women at home never gets accounted.
- Now, women have reached space but the ground realities are still down.
- Despite after women getting education, they continue to be considered as unequal sex.
- Girls face discrimination even before they are born.
- The sex ratio itself is the indicative of violence against girl foetus.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) law was enacted to protect the minors. This is one of the first laws which is gender neutral.
- The Indian Penal Code has many stringent provisions in itself. After the Nirbhaya case, amendments were made in the code in 2013 on the recommendations of Justice Verma committee. The amendments have made the code further stringent.
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act (POSH Act) was enacted in 2013 as a comprehensive legislation to provide a safe, secure and enabling environment, free from sexual harassment, to every woman.
In what ways does it affect women who have faced it?
- The adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences of affect women at all stages of their life.
- For example, early-set educational disadvantages not only represent the primary obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls; down the line they are also to blame for restricting access to higher education and even translate into limited opportunities for women in the labour market.
- While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with HIV and disabilities, and those living through humanitarian crises.
- Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights.
- The girl who faces any kind of violence carries it with her and it becomes the generational thing
- All in all, the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to leave no one behind – cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls.
- Awareness about gender equality and women’s rights should be instilled in boys and girls from a very early age in order to bring about a change in the mindset of the future generation.
- Stigma attached to victims of violence should be removed by conscientising the community through outreach programmes.
- Legal literacy camps should be conducted on a regular and systematic basis at the local community level.
- Domestic violence should be recognized as a health issue
- The prevalence and the health consequences of violence should be documented
- Proper Counseling
- There should be a special court with a woman judge and magistrate in each district to handle domestic violence cases
- Government should ensure proper enforcement of existing laws.
- Police should be trained to be respectful and courteous to women in distress.
- Media should be used to sensitise the officials and the public about violence so as to develop a positive attitude towards women in general, and women victims, in particular
- Strengthening research and research capacity to assess interventions to address partner violence.
- We need to provide children with greater parental guidance.
- In families, there should also be a relationship of authority and respect between parents and their children.
- Women should be respected at home. When women are respected at home, then children also learn about the importance of respecting women. Parents cannot treat their sons and daughters differently.
- People should be made about Zero FIR.
- The state has to work towards making people aware of laws like POCSO Act, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act etc. The state should also make the penalties of not abiding by these laws clear to the public.
- Gender-sensitization programmes should also be started for males of family, police personnel, medical fraternity etc. Police apathy, especially when a woman approaches the police should be worked upon.
- Encourage and adopt family focused practices that promote equal access for both girls and boys to high quality education, and ensure opportunities to successfully complete schooling, and to making educational choices
- Students should be taught to engage in community activities so that they understand realities and also understand how to cope up with realities. Community get-togethers should also be encouraged so that people get to know each other. Neighbours should also get to know their neighbours. Community activities should be encouraged.