Posts Tagged ‘UNICEF’


International Women’s Day is celebrated by the United Nations with a new theme every year. This year it’s called ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’.

The focus this year is on prevention of violence and the provision of support services/responses to survivors of violence.

The United Nations General Assembly defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

“It is estimated that up to seven in ten women globally will be beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetimes- and most of this violence takes place in intimate relationships.” -United Nations

Violence against women is a global epidemic which is deeply rooted in the cultural history of various societies throughout the world. An evidence of this can be seen in the various proverbs across the globe. Some examples of these proverbs are as follows:

Beat your wife regularly… If you don’t know why, she will. (Zambia)

The nails of a cart and the head of a woman: they work only when they are hit hard. (Rajasthan, India)

Affection begins at the end of a rod. (Korea)

A woman, a dog and a walnut tree — the harder you beat them, the better they be. (Europe)

These proverbs seem to reflect a kind of society where wife-beating is not only considered manly but also a part of life. A life where woman is inferior, should be treated as one’s property and must be kept under a check. There is no equality.

To think that such proverbs result in domestic violence would be irrational & idiotic although they do reflect a misogynistic society where inequality is a norm.

Women suffer through numerous forms of violence throughout their lives.

Examples of Violence against Women Throughout the Life Cycle 

Phase                                         Type of violence

Pre-birth                                     Sex-selective abortion; effects of battering during pregnancy on birth outcomes.

Infancy                                      Female infanticide; physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

Girlhood                                    Child marriage; female genital mutilation; physical, sexual and psychological abuse; incest; child prostitution and pornography.

Adolescence and Adulthood         Dating and courtship violence (e.g. acid throwing and date rape) economically coerced sex (e.g. school girls having sex with “sugar daddies” in return for school fees); incest; sexual abuse in the workplace; rape

sexual harassment; forced prostitution and pornography; trafficking in women; partner violence; marital rape; dowry abuse and murders; partner homicide; psychological abuse; abuse of women with

disabilities; forced pregnancy.

Elderly                                      Forced “suicide” or homicide of widows for economic reasons; sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

(Source: “Violence Against Women”, WHO., FRH/WHD/97.8)

The true prevalence of violence against women is concealed as a result of the under-recording by the police, and under-reporting by the women involved. Under-recording occurs when violence against women – particularly in the home – is viewed as a ‘normal’ part of gender relations. Ignorance & prejudice among police and other state officials means that women survivors of violence risk being blamed for the violence inflicted against them. Women who have been trafficked may experience arrest, harassment, or expulsion if they report their experiences to the police, especially where prostitution is illegal. Where arrests are made, it is often women and not the traffickers who are detained. Many women opt to remain silent about violence. This under-reporting may be the result of fear of the attacker, of the social taboos surrounding violence against women, or of a lack of support to women survivors of violence. — Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for Development and Humanitarian Work

Basically the reasons behind under-reporting on the part of women are:

  • The attacker is known to the victim
  • Cultural stigma attached to violence such as domestic violence occurs due to failure on victim’s part to fulfil her roles.
  • Women don’t want to shame the family name
  • Failure of formal institutions to provide effective protection for women

Despite these obstacles to uncovering prevalence of the problem, quantitative & qualitative research that gives a more accurate picture of the problem does exist. One such research drawn by the United Nations back in 1998 is as follows:

 Domestic Violence against Women

Industrialized Countries

Canada

● 29% of women (a nationally representative sample of 12,300 women) reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner since the age of 16.

Japan

● 59% of 796 women surveyed in 1993 reported being physically abused by their partner. New Zealand

● 20% of 314 women surveyed reported being hit or physically abused by a male partner. Switzerland

● 20% of 1,500 women reported being physically assaulted according to a 1997 survey. United Kingdom

● 25% of women (a random sample of women from one district) had been punched or slapped by a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. United States

● 28% of women (a nationally representative sample of women) reported at least one episode of physical violence from their partner.

Asia and the Pacific

Cambodia

● 16% of women (a nationally representative sample of women) reported being physically abused by a spouse; 8% report being injured. India

● Up to 45% of married men acknowledged physically abusing their wives, according to a 1996 survey of 6,902 men in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Korea

● 38% of wives reported being physically abused by their spouse, based on a survey of a random sample of women. Thailand

● 20% of husbands (a representative sample of 619 husbands) acknowledged physically abusing their wives at least once in their marriage.

Middle East

Egypt

● 35% of women (a nationally representative sample of women) reported being beaten by their husband at some point in their marriage. Israel

● 32% of women reported at least one episode of physical abuse by their partner and 30% report sexual coercion by their husbands in the previous year, according to a 1997 survey of 1,826 Arab women.

Africa

Kenya

● 42% of 612 women surveyed in one district reported having been beaten by a partner; of those 58% reported that they were beaten often or sometimes.

Uganda

● 41% of women reported being beaten or physically harmed by a partner; 41% of men reported beating their partner (representative sample of women and their partners in two districts).

Zimbabwe

● 32% of 966 women in one province reported physical abuse by a family or household member since the age of 16, according to a 1996 survey.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Chile

● 26% of women (representative sample of women from Santiago) reported at least one episode of violence by a partner, 11% reported at least one episode of severe violence and 15% of women reported at least one episode of less severe violence.

Colombia

● 19% of 6,097 women surveyed have been physically assaulted by their partner in their lifetime. Mexico

● 30% of 650 women surveyed in Guadalajara reported at least one episode of physical violence by a partner; 13% reported physical violence within the previous year, according to a 1997 report.

Nicaragua

● 52% of women (representative sample of women in León) reported being physically abused by a partner at least once; 27% reported physical abuse in the previous year, according to a 1996 report.

Central and Eastern Europe/CIS/Baltic States

Estonia

● 29% of women aged 18-24 fear domestic violence, and the share rises with age, affecting 52% of women 65 or older, according to a 1994 survey of 2,315 women.

Poland

● 60% of divorced women surveyed in 1993 by the Centre for the Examination of Public Opinion reported having been hit at least once by their ex-husbands; an additional 25% reported repeated violence.

Russia (St. Petersburg)

● 25% of girls (and 11% of boys) reported unwanted sexual contact, according to a survey of 174 boys and 172 girls in grade 10 (aged 14-17). Tajikistan

● 23% of 550 women aged 18-40 reported physical abuse, according to a survey.

(Adapted from “Violence Against Women,” WHO, FRH/WHD/97.8, “Women in Transition,” Regional Monitoring Report, UNICEF 1999, and a study by Domestic Violence Research Centre, Japan.)

Violence against women is a form of gender based hate crime that is gnawing at the foundation of this society, it is not only a human rights or public health issue, but an economic and development issue, slowing economic growth and undermining efforts to reduce poverty.

Evidence suggests domestic violence witnessed as a child is repeated in adulthood.

Men who have seen violence in childhood are two to three times more likely than other men to become perpetrators of violence as adults.

Girls who have witnessed violence as children are more likely to grow up to become the victims of violence as adults. — Viewpoint: The price of violence against women and girls

We don’t need more proof, claims, evidence or statistics to recognize the danger of an unequal society. It is time now to take a stand, fight for what’s right and hail an era of gender equality all over the world. This Women’s Day, let’s pledge to bring women to the forefront of economic progress and put an end to gender discrimination.

Citation: For more proverbs on violence against women check out http://www.intrahealth.org/page/the-power-of-proverbs-

Advertisements

As India celebrates its 66th Independence day today, on the 15th of August, us women are still struggling for our basic Rights promised to all citizens on the eve of this day, back in 1947 by our most trusted Constitution.

Although the Preamble is not an integral part of the Indian Constitution, it is a brief introductory statement that sets the guidelines of the legal document.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a [SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation];

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

For a country that is itself referred in feminine grammatical gender, its women are unsafe, unhappy, unrecognized and underpaid. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” says Gulshun Rehman, health program development adviser at Save the UK, told Reuters during a recent poll conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service by Thomson Reuters Foundation in which India leads the pack of G20 as the worst country for women to live.

This survey was based on Countries with policies that promote safe health care, freedom of violence, women in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources like education and poverty rights, and ending human trafficking and slavery. India was chosen as the worst based on issues of infanticide, child marriage and slavery identified by a poll of 370 gender specialists worldwide.

We all know those aren’t the only issues that cripples our nation as far as gender equality and women empowerment is concerned.

The word ‘Socialist‘ was added to our Preamble in the 42nd Amendment and it implies social and economic equality i.e.  the absence of discrimination on the grounds only of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, or language; Under social equality, everyone has equal status and opportunities. In paper though, it sounds ideal, has it really happened?

· Female feticide, infanticide, child marriage, domestic violence, sexual violence, and sexual harassment at the work place to the treatment meted out to elderly women makes any thinking person to wonder at the nature of the society. Participation of women in the decision-making bodies be they within the home, workplace or community is marginal, never reaching even 25% of the total population of women in India.

· Women are forced to change their jobs or seek transfers on account of Sexual Harassment.

· Most of the women’s work, inside the house goes unnoticed and unremunerated. Even outside the family they remain underpaid.

· In terms of horizontal segregation, women are concentrated in low –paying positions such as secretary, typist, beautician, nurse, caregiver and assembly – line worker. “Equal work but unequal pay” is still a common practice in India’s private sector.

· According to statistics from the United Nations “Women constitute 50% of the World population, do two third of the work, get 10% of the total income and own 1% of the total assets”. While this is a global fact, the picture is much more pathetic in India.

· Children living in this environment and witnessing the differential role pattern of the man and the woman learn the lessons of gender inequality right from their childhood and the pattern is bound to continue generation after generation.

· Women constitute a significant part of the workforce in India but they lag behind men in terms of work participation and quality of employment. According to Government sources, out of 407 million total workforce, 90 million are women workers, largely employed (about 87 percent) in the agricultural sector as labourers and cultivators. In urban areas, the employment of women in the organised sector in March 2000 constituted 17.6 percent of the total organised sector.

· The existence of discriminatory laws, the fact that the laws fail to take account of rural women’s special situation, and the adherence to paternalistic and male-oriented customs which hinder the implementation of, or fill the gaps in, non-discriminatory legislation, have helped to keep rural women in a subordinate position.  www.legalservicesindia.com

Nothing could be lower than the lowest that our women go through in this country, this section of women called the ‘Valmikis‘ or the manual scavengers of dry feces that clean out public toilets. In spite of modernization, major part of India still uses traditional dry, non-flush toilets that expose these manual scavengers to many bio-hazards such as “the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections which affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. TB (tuberculosis) is rife among the community,” states the UN report.

Armed only with a tin plate and broom as proper equipment to protect them from illness is not provided to them, these women pile human feces into baskets and carry on their heads for distances up to 2 miles. Often the contents drip into their hair, faces, and bodies.

The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrine Act of 1993 states that, “No person shall engage in or employ for or permit to be engaged in or employed by any other person for manually carrying human excreta; or to construct or maintain a dry latrine.

In spite of its being “illegal” the practice and use of manual scavengers continues in many low-income urban and rural parts of India today. Legal loopholes and non-enforcement of the law on manual scavenging continues in many parts of India, even as organizations protecting the rights of manual scavengers present detailed reports.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of this nation himself stated back in 1921, “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex (not the weaker sex).”

  • 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010).
  • 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund).
  • Research from UNICEF in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011.
  • The biggest leap was in cases under the Dowry Prohibition Act (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).
  • A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in 12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.

These polls, numbers and statistics may highlight the grave situation in India, but even these cannot voice the hurt, pain, desolation, humiliation that women in our country go through everyday, to varying extent. There is a need to secure our women, give them opportunities to shine, let their voices be heard.

We do not agree to being the “weaker sex”. We do not want your charity, your pity or your security. All we need is your recognition, acceptance and respect so we can come out of the dark and live up to our full potential.

66 years down the line, we are still fighting for independence in hopes that one day it shall be ours.

Happy Independence Day to those that glide free for ours is yet to come.