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Gender-based violence

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Recently several cases are sensationalized by the media where women in live-in relationships have been subjected to gruesome violence and are brutally murdered and many were also of women getting married against the wishes of parents but does this justify that crime against women were just because women made her own choices?

But what about the perpetrator and its inhuman behavior because as people say that western influence of live-in trend and Bollywood based content consumed by people encourages them to follow the trend but if we look towards data, it says that when there was no western influence no bollywood or soft porn the gender-based violence was in fact at peak and more gruesome though I won’t deny that the content served to us via social media is like holy water and influence of western ideology has no role in it. Let’s first discuss what is gender-based violence and deep dive in causes, types and data-

Gender based violence refers to acts directed at an individual based on their gender, the abuse of power and harmful norms. Gender based violence is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. It is estimated that one in every three women about (736 million) experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime and also around 52.4% men were subject to gender-based violence. Talking about transgenders, roughly 96% transgenders have encountered to violence either verbally, physically or sexually.

This gender-based violence is mostly seen against women and girls across the world. The numbers are staggering 35% of women have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner violence. Globally 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than partner. 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation. One characteristic of gender-based violence is that it knows it has no social, economic & geographical boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Types of gender-based violence –

Physical: It results in injuries, distress and health problems. Typical forms of physical violence are beating, strangling, pushing and the use of weapons.

Sexual: It includes sexual acts, attempts to obtain a sexual pleasure, acts of traffic, or acts otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality without person’s consent.

Psychological/Emotional: Includes psychologically abusive behavior, such as controlling, economic violence and blackmail. Such acts leave a dark scar on the personality of a person which degrades his/her life.

Harassment: Includes women Trafficking which often leads to forced labour, prostitution, Online abuse which makes women subject to cyber stalking, trolling, slut-shaming, online rape threats.

Socially based officials: Even today many times it happens when women seek help, they are treated with hostility or negligent or discriminatory fashion by officials in charge of supporting them which makes the crime more gruesome, and justice is denied.

Climate change/disasters: Yes, you heard it right. Climate change also has an effect on gender-based violence. According to studies by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) many young girls are sold off or married against their will to survive after climate disasters such as drought or floods. African countries have the highest number of such practices & the most recent examples are Afghanistan & Pakistan where to survive from poverty & to generate income women/ girls were sold off.

Genital Mutilation: It is the symbol of orthodox mindset where people perform cutting or removal of some or all of the genital parts of a person and consider it as a ritual. It violates their bodies and often damages their sexuality, mental health, wellbeing and participation in the community. In 2021 alone, there were 4.16 million girls around the world, who were at the risk of undergoing female genital mutilation.

The National Commission for Women sounded an alarm in early April that the cases of domestic violence had spiked in just the first week of the covid-19 lockdown. This confirmed that there was an alarming increase in domestic violence against the women in India. According to   the data there was a 30 % rise in complaints of crime against women in 2021 i.e., 31000 as compared to 24000 in 2020 these are just registered ones. When pandemic hit, whole societies took cover with zero social protection in place, triggering a humanitarian crisis equal to the impact of covid-19.

While we have been focused on domestic violence, as in every other crisis, we could anticipate a rise in other kinds of violence too. Most rapes are perpetrated by people known to victim; now lock them together in a small joint family home and imagine the terror. Lockdown made access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion very difficult. The tedium of lockdown is the new context of Marital Rape, with frustration over income uncertainty proffered as justification.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) consider the forced sex in marriage as a crime only when the wife is below the age of 15 years. thus, marital rape is not a criminal offence under the IPC. Marital Rape victims have to take recourse to the protection of women from domestic violence act 2005. Marital Rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the spouse’s consent. India is one of only 36 countries where this intimate assault is a perfectly legal crime. Citing an example, Rajesh Gulati, a software engineer, murdered Anupama, a mother of four-year-old twins, and then, sawed her body into 70 pieces and froze them, before dumping them over several days. Anupama was charging him for having an extra-marital affair.

He was convicted in 2017 and sentenced for life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 15 lakhs though he was released on bail in 2022. So where is the justice? Should we say now Every sinner has future? Looks quite similar to recent cases of Shraddha walker and Nikki Yadav but these are just reported cases, when shraddha walker was murdered after that there were around 12-15 exact similar cases happened in the country in a month and now the most recent is of Nikki Yadav but only few were covered by media and many such cases went unreported.

Talking about men

For decades or centuries, all around the world gender roles have trapped men inside the falsehood of machismo & men were not given space to speak out their pain; they were caged with thoughts of “Mard ko dard nahi hota”. Everyone assumes men don’t have any real problems, they don’t feel alone, afraid or are emotionally broken but indeed they too are as women are. It’s just that they can’t ask for help or speak about it due to fear of being judged or may become the cause of laughter. Men feel the pressure to constantly perform & prove themselves at every stage of their life and thus to achieve gender equality & harmony among gender it is important to talk to men too.  

Besides women, men also experience gender-based violence in India. Most women experience violence so there is a stereotypical assumption among people that domestic violence is gender-specific which is not correct. India is a patriarchal or male-dominated society, so it is often hard to believe that even males can be victims of domestic violence. Data suggests, 52.4% of males experience gender-based violence in India. 51.5% of males have experienced some sort of torture or violence at the hands of their wives or their intimate partners in their lifetime.

10.5% of males have experienced gender-based violence at the hands of their wives or intimate partners in the last 12 months. The most common spousal or domestic violence against men is emotional and physical is the second most common domestic violence against men. Listening & understanding both sides will help in reducing violence among men, against women and against self so without involving them it’s an incomplete approach.

Against Transgenders, surprisingly I was not able to get apt surveys & data of violence against them and the reason of not having exact data is that they don’t report to police station because of gender, their identity and shame.

Just citing one example of one case where a transgender was gang-raped by her landlord multiple times for 3 months initially she hesitated to report to police but later she went to report and when she tried to file a report of rape the policemen laughed at her, did name calling and body shamed her and out of shame when she decided to leave and suddenly a policeman offered to visit landlord’s house and meet the landlord but unfortunately she was actually raped by the police officer and threatened her not to visit police station again and keep mum.

It is no hidden fact that they are not being abused but justice was always denied to them but now things are evolving and many human rights groups as well as lawyers a have extended support to them.

What are ways to overcome this

First thing we all can do is to spread awareness among people through various means and the most effective one would be education to children and parents, It is utmost need to give value education in schools itself also the parents should be made aware that in whichever way they behave at home either be verbally or physically abusive to their spouse the kids are going to learn the same or traumatized with such environment.

Many institutions are working to stop and minimize gender-based violence like the World Bank, United Nations but they all are at international level. There is a need for local based forums and organizations who can work at ground level and help the victims and survivors at personal level by providing them financial aid, legal aid & psychological support.

We do have strict laws, but execution and conviction rate are very much low at ground level and most people don’t even know about the legal aid or protection available to them. Also, the soft porn and cringe content that is being served everyday through movies, series or reels needs to be regulated at urgent basis because the penetration of it is directly to Gen Z this just pollutes the minds.

It also important to acknowledge that judicial reforms are must, but it is only one aspect. To tackle this decades old issue a multi-pronged approach is needed. To grow as civilized society multiple efforts with contribution of all individuals will only help in eradicating this problem thus to protect every human from any kind of violence should be our national duty & priority. Lastly the data represented above are not just mere numbers but average of actual Human being that have faced gender-based violence, its gruesome.

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