The recent case of a 27-year-old girl in a live-in relationship exposed by her partner has shocked the nation and highlighted the rising rate of gender-based violence, especially gender-based violence against young women It means harmful actions directed on the basis of a person’s sex. It is rooted in gender inequality, abuse of power and harmful norms. This is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and safety issue.
This violence is not limited to physical violence, but includes dowry deaths, honor killings, trafficking, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual and emotional abuse, online abuse, child abuse and caste-based violence, etc.
The National Crime Records Bureau in its Crime in India report 2019 has recorded a 7.3% increase in crimes against women as compared to 2018. 30.9% of the cases registered under the report were of domestic violence and 7.9% were of rape.
It indicates that among the crime rate per lakh female population, 33.2% women have faced physical/sexual intimate and non-intimate partner violence. 1 in every 3 women is a victim of gender-based violence. There has been a two-fold increase in cases of gender-based violence across the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The main factor contributing to gender-based violence is the unequal status of women in society. Along with this there is vulnerability of women, gender inequality, psychiatric morbidity, sociological factors, family factors.
The Constitution not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favor of women so as to neutralize the cumulative socio-economic, educational and political disadvantages faced by them.
Article 14 provides equal rights and opportunities to men and women in the political, economic and social spheres. Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex etc. Article 16 subject to state Provides for equality of opportunity relating to employment or appointment to any office.
Article 39 (a) (d) enshrines the policy protection of state equality for both men and women, providing for the right to equal means of livelihood and equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
Some legal provision has also been arranged for women. Sections 354 and 509 under the Indian Penal Code protect the interests of women.
Under the Factories Act 1948, a woman cannot be forced to work for more than 8 hours and it also prohibits employment of women other than 6 am to 7 pm. Under the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 a The woman is entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave with full pay.
Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, it is an offense to demand dowry before, during or after marriage.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 protects women from unnecessary and compulsory abortions. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 provides equal pay for equal work to both male and female workers for equal work or work of a similar nature. It also prohibits discrimination against women in matters of recruitment.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1976 raised the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 and for boys to 21. The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts reserved 1/3 seats for women in Panchayat and urban local bodies.
The National Commission for Women Act, 1990 established the commission in 1992 to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a legislation aimed at protecting women from violence in domestic relations. It refers to causing harm or injury to a woman in a domestic relationship, be it physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal or emotional abuse or economic abuse.
To stop gender-based violence, social norms have to be challenged first and awareness has to be created along with it. Survivors of gender-based violence must be supported to live in society, while ensuring active media representation. The law needs to be strengthened to criminalize gender-based violence. At the same time, there is a need for society to take accountability and address gender-based violence comprehensively.
( DIRECTOR – OJAANK IAS )