VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and our lives. Consider these facts:
- Battering is the leading cause of injury to women aged 15 44 in the U.S.
- The FBI, which gathers data from law enforcement officials, indicated that 102,555 women were victims of rape in 1990.
- In contrast to the FBI data, the Rape in America study estimates that 683,000 women are raped every year.
- Approximately 50% of the homeless women and children in this country are on the streets because of violence in their homes.
- One-fifth to one-half of U.S. women were sexually abused as children at least once, most of them by an older male relative.
- Nearly two-thirds of women who receive public assistance (“welfare”) have been abused by an intimate partner at some time in their adult lives.
- Given these facts, it is not surprising that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action calls violence against women a violation of the human rights of a majority of the world’s population. Women are statistically safer out on the street than they are in their homes.
Violence against women is woven into the fabric of society to such an extent that many of us who are victimized feel that we are at fault. Many of those who perpetrate violence feel justified by strong societal messages that say that rape, battering, sexual harassment, child abuse, and other forms of violence are acceptable. Every day we see images of male violence against women in the news, on TV shows, in the movies, in advertising, and in our homes and workplaces. It is a fact of life for women of all ages, races, and classes.
I have never been free of the fear of rape. From a very early age I, like most women, have thought of rape as part of my natural environment–something to be feared and prayed against like fire or lightning. I never asked why men raped; I simply thought it one of the many mysteries of human nature.
In the broadest sense, violence against women is any violation of a woman’s personhood, mental or physical integrity, or freedom of movement through individual acts and societal oppression. It includes all the ways our society objectifies and oppresses women. Violence against women ranges from sterilization abuse to prescription-drug abuse, pornography, stalking, battering, and rape. It includes the sexual and physical abuse of young girls and the abuse of elders.
Every form of violence threatens all women and limits our ability to make choices about our lives. Sexual violence is particularly insidious because sexual acts are ordinarily and rightly a source of pleasure and communication. It is often unclear to a woman who has been victimized and to society as a whole whether a sexual violation was done out of sexual desire or violent intent or whether these motivations are even distinguishable, because violence itself has come to be seen as sexual or erotic.
Thirty years ago, most forms of violence against women were hidden under a cloak of silence or acceptance. As more and more women talked with each other in the recent wave of the women’s movement, it became apparent that violence against us occurs on a massive scale; that no woman is immune; and that family, friends, and public institutions have been cruelly insensitive about it.
Over the past thirty years, women have mobilized to offer direct services to those who have encountered violence, to educate people about the range and nature of male violence against women, and to develop strategies for change. This chapter reflects the important work of some of these women.
A Critical Overview Of Offences Against Women Under The Indian Penal Code :
1. Offences relating to marriage
Chapter XX (section 493- 498), IPC, deals with offences relating to marriage. All these offences deal with infidelity within the institution of marriage in one way or another. Chapter XX-A, containing only one section (s 498A) dealing with cruelty to a woman by her husband or his relatives to coerce her and her parents to meet the material greed of dowry, was added to the IPC by the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 1983.
The following are the main offences under this chapter:
- Mock or invalid marriages (s 493 and 496)
- Bigamy (s 494 and 495)
- Adultery (s 497)
- Criminal elopement (s 498)
- Cruelty by husband or relatives of husband (s 498A)
2. Offences Outraging the Modesty of a Woman
“Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue…”
We may think that the position of women has changed in our society, especially in metropolitan cities, but that is nothing but a myth. We might have progressed but what’s the point in boasting of our growth-story if it hasn’t taught us to respect the modesty of women?
The offence of outraging the modesty of a woman has been dealt with in the Indian Penal Code under Section 509 and Section 354, which is an aggravated form of the offence mentioned under Section 509.
3. Safety of 21st century women in India
Economically empowering women may be one of the most impactful sets of development interventions, both in terms of growth and job creation. Women’s Empowerment in India will take a look at our rich heritage and enlightened societies of the past where women were treated as equals, the concept of India itself evolved quite recently, relative to the sum of its parts histories. But the truth is that in the modern India, the woman has always been a second grade citizen in work place. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that by 2010 growth in the rate of crimes against women would exceed the population growth rate.
4. Status of Indian women today-
- Treated as second hand citizen
- Practicing to act as the decisions made by male
- Lesser literacy rate
- Denied of opportunities
- Lack of communication skill even among educated women
- Cultural set up at family base
- Lack of interest in knowing current events
- Hesitation to take challenges
- Women’s Empowerment Principles in Brief
- Establish high-level leadership for gender equality.
- Treat all women and men fairly at work
- Respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination.
- Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers.
- Promote education, training and professional development for women.
- Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.
- Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy.
CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN IN INDIA
While the country has grown from leaps and bounds since its independence where education is concerned, the gap between women and men is severe. While 82.14% of adult men are educated, only 65.46% of adult women are known to be literate in India. Not only is an illiterate women at the mercy of her husband or father, she also does not know that this is not the way of life for women across the world. Additionally, the norms of culture that state that the man of the family is the be-all and end-all of family decisions is slowly spoiling the society of the country.
b) Poverty in the Country
About a third of the country’s population lives on less than 1.25USD per day. The GINI index keeps rising slowly over the years, indicating that the inequality in the distribution of wealth in the country is increasing, currently hovering a little close to 33.9. Poverty is considered the greatest threat to peace in the world, and eradication of poverty should be a national goal as important as the eradication of illiteracy. Due to abject poverty, women are exploited as domestic helps and wives whose incomes are usurped by the man of the house. If poverty were not a concern, then the girl child will be able to follow her dreams without concerns of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse illiteracy.
c) Health & Safety
The health and safety concerns of women are paramount for the well being of a country, and are an important factor in gauging the empowerment of women in a country. However there are alarming concerns where maternal healthcare is concerned. In its 2013 report, UNICEF came up with shocking figures on the status of new mothers in India. The maternal mortality report of India stands at 350 per 1000, with as many as 83,000 women in India dying of childbirth complications in that year. Today, due to the burgeoning population of the country, that number is sure to have multiplied considerably. While there are several programs that have been set into motion by the Government and several NGOs in the country, there is still a wide gap that exists between those under protection and those not. The empowerment of women begins with a guarantee of their health and safety.
WOMEN EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP
- Indian women have basic characters in themselves in the present sociological and cultural setup
- Qualities required for an entrepreneur as follows
- Indian women are considered as Shakti, which means source of power.
- Able to effectively coordinating the available factors and resources.
- Able to efficient by execute decisions imposed on them
- Have clear vision and ambition on the improvement of family and children.
- Patience and bearing the sufferings on behalf of others and
- Ability to work physically more at any age.
- An effective entrepreneur requires certain basic qualities, which can be listed as follows.
- Innovative thinking and farsightedness.
- Quick and effective decision making skill.
- Ability to mobilize and marshal resources.
- Strong determination and self-confidence & Preparedness to take risks.
- Accepting changes in right time.
Access and alertness to latest scientific and technological information. Matching the basic qualities required for entrepreneurs and the basic characters of Indian women reveal that, much potential is available among the Indian women on their entrepreneurial ability. This potential is to be recognized, brought out and exposed for utilization in productive and service sectors for the development of the nation.
- Challenges in Women entrepreneurship
- Inadequate Access to Finance
The greatest barrier facing women entrepreneurs in India is access to finance is an issue because of requirements of collateral. In India only 1% of women own property and that makes it very difficult for women to provide collateral for banks. Most women who venture into businesses in the rural areas and need financing lack the needed collateral to enable them secure bank loans. Responsibility of entrepreneurs for dependants has limited opportunities to make savings or undertake business expansion and diversification’ .The financial aspects of setting up a business are without doubt the biggest obstacles to women entrepreneurs often lack information about how to get a loan, lack the necessary collateral to obtain one and /or face discriminatory laws or practices related to finance and credit Common wealth secretariat (2002) Finding the finance to get a new business going, or to grow an existing one is a difficult challenge.
Another challenge that women entrepreneurs in India face is discrimination. Even when women entrepreneurs do approach banks for financing, they tend to face discrimination. Women report that bank officials tend to ignore them in meetings and prefer speaking to their husbands or male business partners. The fact that banks engage in gender bias prevents many women from even approaching them. Some women get so discouraged that they do not bother to seek bank financing and turn instead to informal savings groups.
e) Multiple Responsibilities
One other challenge is the responsibility of providing for the extended family and relatives. Most micro-enterprise financial resources are not usually isolated from personal finances and hence these family obligations are met from resources earned in the business. Their demands tend to drain the savings and income made by the business, since such finances would otherwise have been used in the enterprise for expansion and growth. Though some of them do assist in providing services in the enterprise (or in the family), the financial obligations in supporting them usually exceeds the services they provide.
f) Lack of Education
Lower education levels puts women entrepreneurs is a disadvantage compared to men. While gender gap in primary education in India has decreased in recent years, the gap remains high at secondary and tertiary education levels. Lower education does not emphasize entrepreneurship skills. It decreases the chances that women will have the knowledge needed to excel in business.