Violence against women 26-2-05


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Gender Based Violation & Discrimination
in South Asia
Dr. Vibhuti Patel, Director, PGSR
Professor & Head, Department of Economics,
SNDT Women’s University, Churchgate, Mumbai-400020.
E-mail- Phone-91-022-26770227, mobile-9321040048


Violence against women (VAW) has become a central issue in the discourse of the international women’s movement in the 21st century. Women’s networks in the South Asia have taken up wide range of issues concerning violence against women (VAW) in their personal lives as well as against the systems perpetuating it. “Personal is political”, a slogan popularised by two decades of women’s movement in the last century signifies consistent campaigns against all forms of violence in women’s intimate/personal and public/societal lives. Social construction of masculinity in the region is defined by cultural nationalism, jingoism and militarisation of the economy as well as ethnic/caste/religious chauvinism in the context of worsening economic crisis due to liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation(LPG). Escalating fundamentalist backlash in the South Asian countries takes the most barbaric form in terms of wide range of violence against women at different stages of their lives, from womb to tomb. Moreover, as a result of modernisation and commercialisation of subsistence economies, family-ties have become less supportive. Increasing intra-state, inter-state and cross country migration as well as trafficking of women and girls has a sole purpose of SEXPLOITATION-ferocious and complete control over their sexuality, fertility and labour. Cut throat competition among the nation states have increased work-burden drastically due to shift from just-in-case approach to just-in-time approach to meet the targets of production at the cheapest possible cost.

During the eighties, women’s rights organisations mushroomed in the South Asia in response to varied manifestations of VAWG by the state apparatus and in the civil society in the form of anti-women family laws and customary laws, communal carnage, sexual harassment at workplace and assaults on individual women in the family and in the society. They organised rallies and demonstrations, sit-ins and conventions, seminars and conferences, which culminated into politics of protest movements and petitioning. In the 1990s, the women’s groups consolidated their base by finding their allies in the state apparatus and created their institutional base and shelter homes of women and children victims of violence. Now, it is accepted by all progressive forces that “Women’s rights are human rights”.

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Violence against women 26-2-05

  1. 1. Violence Against Women Trends, Issues and Action Strategies Dr. Vibhuti Patel Professor and Head, Post Graduatye Department of Economics, SNDT Women’s University, Churchgate, Mumbai-400020 Phone-91-022-26770227® 22031879, Ext. 243 Mobile-9321040048 E mail- vibhuti @ vsnl .net
  2. 2. VAW in Asia & Pacific in the New Millennium- A Collage <ul><li>Female Infanticide & Pre-birth Elimination of Girls in India and China create adverse juvenile sex ratio. </li></ul><ul><li>In Burma, every year 10000 women and girls are trafficked into slavery in Thai Brothels. </li></ul><ul><li>Sex tourism in South & South East Asia perpetuates and promotes child-prostitution. </li></ul><ul><li>According to Philippines National Police, in 1994, every 6 hours, one woman was raped. </li></ul><ul><li>40% of women in Malaysia are victims of physical abuse.Under-reporting of VAW in Singapore. </li></ul><ul><li>Mass rape of women in Timore by Indonesian soldiers who also own of brothels.Sex-slavery . </li></ul>
  3. 3. Economic Development and VAW <ul><li>Carcinogenic and mutogenic effects of industrial pollution- Minamata in Japan, Bhopal Union Carbide Gas tragedy. Jelly Fish babies in Fiji Islands as a result of dumping of Nuclear Waste. </li></ul><ul><li>New International Division of Labour depends on super-exploitation of poor Asian Women- Mass hysteria in EPZs, SEZs, FTZs. </li></ul><ul><li>Racist & sexist biases of population control policies. Forced sterilisation & unsafe-hormone based contraceptives for poor Asian women and pronatalist policy for educated women. Sexist implications of Eugenics . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Globalisation and VAW- New Forms <ul><li>Control over sexuality, fertility and labour of women migrants- forced abortion. </li></ul><ul><li>Mail-order brides,organ trade of destitute women, children and foetuses. </li></ul><ul><li>Soft porn as well as hard-core pornography and cyber sexual violence used for terrorisation, humiliation and intimidation of women and girls. Smut parties for executives of TNCs, MNCs and corporate barons. </li></ul><ul><li>Cyber stalking in the computer labs of offices, colleges, universities and commercially run cyber-cafes. Use of SMS to send scary messages to girls. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Militarisation and VAW <ul><li>In Manipur, the military rulers use rape as a means of social control and use torture for women deemed dangerous to the regime. </li></ul><ul><li>Politics of rape in Kashmir conflict, tragedy of Tamil women in conflict, insurgency in Nepal. </li></ul><ul><li>Jingoism in South Asia- Insecurity for women. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Comfort women”- from World War II to Vietnam War. Drugs, sex-shops & crimes. </li></ul><ul><li>Women as carriers for smuggling, in border regions-Women in refugee camps. </li></ul><ul><li>In region constituting “Killing fields in Kampuchea” women constitute 2/3 of population . </li></ul>
  6. 6. Domestic Violence <ul><li>Domestic abuse is everywhere in India, still, no shelter-home for women. </li></ul><ul><li>In most Asian countries, no state provision against marital rape. India was the 1 st to enact the Family Courts Act (1984). Women’s Protection Bill (2002) to be tabled soon. </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s movement has pushed for legislation to provide protection for abused women. After 10 years of lobbying, Malaysia was the 1 st to enact DV act, 1994. It has been studied by Islamic countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis Centres in hospitals-Philippines, Malaysia. </li></ul><ul><li>Dilaasa, BMC & Women’s Cell in Police Station </li></ul>
  7. 7. How to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse <ul><li>Counseling in school, neighbourhood </li></ul><ul><li>Public discussion, TV coverage, radio-talks </li></ul><ul><li>Code of conduct- dos & don’ts- “It is O.K. to say ‘No’ ”- Assertiveness training- “Speak out, don’t suffer in silence.” Docudrama and role play for class-room teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Custodial situation-hostels, jails, mental hospitals, orphanages, shelter homes-accountability, transparency, media coverage. </li></ul><ul><li>Visually effective posters showing safe alternatives targeted at school-going and other children. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Prostitution <ul><li>Common legislation for the region to deal with cross country trafficking . </li></ul><ul><li>Decriminalisation of victims of prostitution. </li></ul><ul><li>Targeting 4 Ps- procurers, pimps, police, politicians. Dealing with black-mailers. </li></ul><ul><li>State funding for rehabilitation of prostitutes and salary of frontline workers. </li></ul><ul><li>Custodial care and developmental needs of ex-prostitutes-education, skills, employment, healthy recreational activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Close collaboration between GOs and NGO </li></ul><ul><li>* Analytical, not sensational writings on prostitution . </li></ul>
  9. 9. Culture Specific VAW- Role of Manu, Mulla and Confucian Ideologies <ul><li>Dowry harassment and bride burning among Hindu, Muslim and Christian women of the Indian origin. NRIs. </li></ul><ul><li>Widow-burning- Suttee (Sati) in India . </li></ul><ul><li>Bangladesh-Throwing of acid-blubs </li></ul><ul><li>Hadood Ordinance-women as witnesses in cases of rape, battering, assault, molestation </li></ul><ul><li>Honour killing, Clitoredectomy, human sacrifice </li></ul><ul><li>Islamic punishment for “Adultress”. </li></ul><ul><li>Son preference and neglect of girl child in Asia. </li></ul><ul><li>* Mass rape of women in Caste & Communal riots . </li></ul>
  10. 10. Abortion in Asia and the Pacific <ul><li>Criminalisation of abortion in Nepal renders 1000s of girls and women in prison. </li></ul><ul><li>As per WHO, 1996: chances of a woman dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth during her lifetime is 1 in 65. </li></ul><ul><li>Sex-selective abortion of female foetuses accounted for 17.6 % of 1492 induced abortion in a sample survey in India, in 2001. </li></ul><ul><li>Majority of abortions in Asia are unsafe and are performed by un-authorised practitioners. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The United Nations and VAW <ul><li>As per Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), </li></ul><ul><li>“ All States are obliged to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.” Beijing Declaration, Platform for Action, The UN World Conference on Women, China, 1995. </li></ul><ul><li>Indonesia has even refused to to ratify the declarations of 3 major UN Conferences that discussed VAW- The Vienna Declaration (1993), the Declaration of Elimination of VAW (1994) and the CEDAW, 1995). </li></ul>
  12. 12. Laws Concerning VAW <ul><li>Broadening the definition of domestic violence to include violence against women senior citizens (abuse of “mentally unfit” certificate),incest & rape by family members, relatives forcing women & girls into prostitution. </li></ul><ul><li>Country-specific campaigns for legal reforms by human/women rights organisation- PNDT Act (India), Hudood Ordinance (Pakistan), Family laws and customary practices need global solidarity. </li></ul><ul><li>Public Interest Litigations to deal with sexual harassment at work-place.Need for legal safety. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Media and VAW <ul><li>Monitoring of covert & overt VAW in print and audio-visual media. Public debate for mass education on construction of men-woman relationship- sex-stereotypes, glorification of angry, aggressive HE man and masochist woman. </li></ul><ul><li>Media Alternatives for non-violent relationship between men and women. “Suffering in silence is not a virtue.” Appeal of Male protagonists. </li></ul><ul><li>Demand for Portrayal of women’s agency as an active contributor for social/ human development. </li></ul><ul><li>Positive projection of female headed households (FHH) and special problems faced by FHH-jobs, housing, schooling of their children, property right. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Self Defense and Assertiveness Training <ul><li>Counseling for personality development and assertiveness training. </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques- use of loud voice to prevent violence.Physical power to handle violence. </li></ul><ul><li>Self defense courses-Karate, martial art </li></ul><ul><li>Dealing with anorexia nervosa and bulimia-eating disorders due to violence or anticipation of violence. </li></ul><ul><li>Female autonomy, economic empowerment and improved status of girl child. </li></ul>
  15. 15. State and Civil Society Initiatives <ul><li>“ Because Personal is political”-TISS, Mumbai- Documentation of 10 years of work against VAW. </li></ul><ul><li>Training for the police force, judiciary, doctors and hospital staff, lawyers, media, politicians, administration and the members of Women’s Commissions. </li></ul><ul><li>Resource kit for workers in caring professions that teaches various techniques of handing acts of violent and aggressive behaviour. </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging men’s involvement as partners. Violence is learned, not innate behaviour. Complementary rehabilitative programmes for abusers. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Thank you