AIDWA

A NOTE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

28 January 2009

In 2004, when the UPA government came to power at the Centre, it promised in it’s Common Minimum Programme, “to fully empower women politically, educationally, economically and legally.” However, a look at crime statistics under the UPA government shows that the UPA has failed to stem the trend of growing violence against women in our country. Each passing year has only made matters worse for women’s security (see tables). Crimes against women, rape and dowry deaths have continued to see a steady increase under the UPA government.

The growth in violence against women merits three types of urgent measures from the government:

  • formulating new laws,
  • amending deficient old laws, and
  • ensuring effective implementation of existing laws.

While the UPA government did take the welcome step of enacting the Domestic Violence Bill, which for the first time provides for civil remedies to women by way of protection orders, residence orders, and maintenance and thus is much wider in scope than the Section 498/A of the Indian Penal Code, the government has been dragging its feet on all other urgent issues pertaining to stemming violence against women.  

AIDWA and other women’s organizations have repeatedly made specific demands from the UPA government, but to no avail. On 14th March 2007, an AIDWA delegation submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, demanding gender just legislations from the government. However, the government has failed to take concrete steps towards redressal.

Rape and Sexual Assault
There is an urgent need for a Comprehensive Bill to address Rape and Sexual Assault. Amendments to the laws relating to rape, molestation and eve-teasing, etc. in the IPC, CrPC, and the Indian Evidence Act so that the definition of rape includes oral and anal penetration, as also child sexual abuse of various kinds are also required. Procedural amendments relating to police investigation, medical examination, giving evidence etc have to be incorporated. Despite several assurances by the Union Home Minister, the Bill has still not been introduced in Parliament. The Communal Violence Bill fails to make special provision to address the targeting of women, who are subject to rape and sexual violence during communal riots. The procedures have not been modified to make them gender sensitive. 

Sexual Harassment
 The Bill for Protection Against Sexual Harassment of Women, has not been introduced even ten long years since the passage of the Supreme Court judgement in Vishaka's case (AIR 1997 SC 3011) where sexual harassment was defined. The “Vishakha guidelines” are still not being followed in many institutions. Elsewhere, they are often being followed in an arbitrary and superficial manner. There is a need for a comprehensive law on sexual harassment at the workplace with proper rules and procedures in both public and private institutions and in the organised and unorganised sectors. Though a draft legislation has been formulated by the NCW and the Ministry of Law and Justice, this still has to be formalised and introduced in Parliament. 

Dowry
Even after six decades of independence, Indian wives have no right to the assets acquired by the parties during marriage. At present, a wife only has a right to maintenance/alimony and a right to residence in a situation of domestic violence. The Bill for matrimonial property rights stipulating that they are joint owners of all movable and immovable assets acquired by either party during the time they have lived together is an urgent necessity.

Honour Killings
The instances of honour killings are on the rise not only in rural areas but also in urban areas. The government needs to enact laws to ban decisions of caste panchayats which militate against the constitution. Strict action also needs to be taken against the non-intervention by the police in cases of consensual relationships and marriages. The procedures of the Special Marriages Act also need to be simplified.

Trafficking of Women and Children
A special new law is required to address trafficking in women and children, in tune with the international protocols that the government has signed, which will cover all forms of trafficking, not prostitution alone.

Crimes against Women Statistics
(Kidnapping and abduction of women and chidren, molestation, sexual harassment, cruelty by husband and relatives, importation of girls)

S.No

Year

Cases Reported

Rate of Crime

% of Total IPC Crimes

1

2003

1,40,601

13.2

7.6

2

2004

1,54,333

14.2

7.8

3

2005

1,55,553

14.1

7.9

4

2006

1,64,765

14.7

8.8 (IPC + SLL)

5

2007

1,85,312

16.3

9.3 (IPC + SLL)

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

Rape Statistics


Year

Cases Reported

Rate of Crime

% of Total IPC Crimes

2003

15847

-

-

2004

18233

-

-

2005

18359

-

-

2006

19348

1.7

1.0

2007

20737

1.8

1.0

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

Dowry Deaths


Year

Cases Reported

Rate of Crime

% of Total IPC Crimes

2003

6208

-

-

2004

7026

-

-

2005

6787

-

-

2006

7618

0.7

0.4

2007

8093

0.7

0.4

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

 

 

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