Sixty percent of women in India, Nepal and Pakistan cite violence, including death threats, physical violence, and kidnapping, as a primary reason for avoiding politics and public office, according to a new study by the Centre for Social Research and UN Women. Women also feared public shaming or "character assasination," verbal abuse and sexual harassment. The study found that cultural perceptions reinforce beliefs that women should participate in politics only if allowed by their family, and that domestic violence increases when women "ignore" domestic responsibilities. Discrimination ranged from women's marginalization within a political party to denial of the right to vote or contest elections.
The study analyzed incidents of violence in India, Nepal and Pakistan from 2003-2013 to determine why the region had relatively limited political participation by women. It found that violence against women was "institutionalized" by family, social, economic, religious and cultural norms and that "none of the three countries has legislation that deals strictly with offenders to prevent violence against women in politics," according to UN Women Representative Rebecca Reichmann Tavares. While the results varied across the countries studied, the study's authors recommend several legal, political, and social reforms to combat violence and discrimination against women in politics, including improved implementation of laws that protect and promote women's participation in politics.
Compiled from: New research reveals violence against women in politics rampant in South Asia, UN Women (April 30, 2014); Seervai, Shanoor, Study: Rampant Violence Against Women in Politics in South Asia, Wall Street Journal India (May 2, 2014)