India: Violence Against Women Rooted in Gender Inequality and Discrimination

Violence against women in India is systematic, institutional and rooted in societal norms and discrimination. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, patriarchal norms in India result in women’s servitude within the household, a loss of rights to reproductive and sexual health, and unjustified violence against women within the family to maintain honor.  Women carry shame, stigma, and potential exclusion by their family and community if they are sexually attacked. This is exaggerated through the traditional practices of dowry or “honor crimes” and male preference in kin.  
 
As a result, women lack supportive resources and fear social alienation if they speak against violence. In India, caste and religious based discrimination, gender discrimination, harmful traditional practices and sexual violence have the greatest impact on the condition of women and gender equality. In particular, the Special Rapporteur notes, “The intergenerational nature of caste-based discrimination condemns women to a life of exclusion, marginalization and disadvantage in every sphere of life.” India has enacted legislation to address early and forced marriages, acid attacks, and caste related forced or bonded labor, but according to the Special Rapporteur, these laws have not produced significant results due to a lack enforcement, and cultural shame and intimidation of women.
 
The UN Special Rapportuer examines the causes, consequences, and state responses to violence against women, and offers recommendations to protect and stimulate gender-equality. She completed her visit to India in May, 2013 and will submit her April, 2014 report to the UN General Assembly in June of this year. 

 

Compiled from: Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, Addendum,Mission to India, U.N. General Assembly, Human Rights Council (April 1, 2014); UN: Plight of Dalit women highlighted by the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, ISDN (May 5, 2014).