One woman in three , worldwide suffer domestic violence: WHO #Vaw #Womenrights


VAW

Agence France-Presse | Updated: June 20, 2013 20:55 IST

Geneva: More than one woman in three around the globe is a victim of domestic violence, with those in Asia and the Middle East most-affected by the scourge, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.


In what it billed as the first-ever systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women and its health impact, the UN agency said 30 percent worldwide faced such abuse at the hands of their partners.

“These to me are shocking statistics,” said Flavia Bustreo, head of the WHO’s family, women’s and children’s health division.
“It’s also shocking that this phenomenon cuts across the entire world,” she told reporters.

The WHO blamed taboos that prevent victims from coming forward, failings in medical and justice systems, and norms that mean men and women may see violence as acceptable.
The findings were extrapolated from figures provided by 81 countries which maintain data, and did not single out individual nations.

The scale of abuse was highest in Asia, where data from Bangladesh, East Timor, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand showed that 37.7 percent of women were affected.
Next was the Middle East, where prevalence averaged at 37 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa followed, with 36.6 percent.

An average of 23.2 percent were affected in a group of high-income countries including North America, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
“These data really show the tremendous toll violence has on the health of women,” said Claudia Garcia-Moren, a WHO specialist on gender, reproductive rights, sexual health and adolescence.

Underlining the impact of such abuse, the WHO said that globally, 38 percent of female murder victims were killed by their partners.
In addition, it said, violence also leaves scars long after bruises disappear and broken bones heal.

Women with a violent partner were twice as likely to suffer from depression and develop an alcohol problem, compared to women who did not experience abuse.
Victims of violence were also found to be far more likely to contract a range of sexually-transmitted diseases, from syphilis to HIV.

The study also flagged the higher likelihood of abused women having an unwanted pregnancy, an abortion, or an underweight baby — and their children were more likely to become abusers or victims in adulthood.

 

Open Letter to Facebook- to take action on gender-based hate speech #FBRape #Vaw


rape11

May 21, 2013

An Open Letter to Facebook:

We, the undersigned, are writing to demand swift, comprehensive and effective action addressing the representation of rape and domestic violence on Facebook. Specifically, we call on you, Facebook, to take three actions:

  1. Recognize speech that trivializes or glorifies violence against girls and women as hate speech and make a commitment that you will not tolerate this content.
  2. Effectively train moderators to recognize and remove gender-based hate speech.
  3. Effectively train moderators to understand how online harassment differently affects women and men, in part due to the real-world pandemic of violence against women.

To this end, we are calling on Facebook users to contact advertisers whose ads on Facebook appear next to content that targets women for violence, to ask these companies to withdraw from advertising on Facebook until you take the above actions to ban gender-based hate speech on your site. (We will be raising awareness and contacting advertisers on Twitter using the hashtag #FBrape.)

Specifically, we are referring to groups, pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about. Pages currently appearing on Facebook include Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus, Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich, Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs, Raping your Girlfriend and many, many more.  Images appearing on Facebook include photographs of women beaten, bruised, tied up, drugged, and bleeding, with captions such as “This bitch didn’t know when to shut up” and “Next time don’t get pregnant.”

These pages and images are approved by your moderators, while you regularly remove content such as pictures of women breastfeeding, women post-mastectomy and artistic representations of women’s bodies.  In addition, women’s political speech, involving the use of their bodies in non-sexualized ways for protest, is regularly banned as pornographic, while pornographic content – prohibited by your own guidelines – remains.  It appears that Facebook considers violence against women to be less offensive than non-violent images of women’s bodies, and that the only acceptable representation of women’s nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse.  Your common practice of allowing this content by appending a [humor] disclaimer to said content literally treats violence targeting women as a joke.

The latest global estimate from the United Nations Say No to Violence Campaign is that the percentage of women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetimes is now up to an unbearable 70%. In a world in which this many girls and women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, allowing content about raping and beating women to be shared, boasted and joked about contributes to the normalisation of domestic and sexual violence, creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators are more likely to believe they will go unpunished, and communicates to victims that they will not be taken seriously if they report.

According to a UK Home Office Survey, one in five people think it is acceptable in some circumstances for a man to hit or slap his wife or girlfriend in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothes in public. And 36% think a woman should be held fully or partly responsible if she is sexually assaulted or raped whilst drunk. Such attitudes are shaped in part by enormously influential social platforms like Facebook, and contribute to victim blaming and the normalisation of violence against women.

Although Facebook claims, in a narrowly-defined defense of free speech, not to be involved in challenging norms or censoring people’s speech, you have in place procedures, terms and community guidelines that you interpret and enforce.Facebook prohibits hate speech and your moderators deal with content that is violently racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic every day. Your refusal to similarly address gender-based hate speech marginalizes girls and women, sidelines our experiences and concerns, and contributes to violence against them.  Facebook is an enormous social network with more than a billion users around the world, making your site extremely influential in shaping social and cultural norms and behaviors.

Facebook’s response to the many thousands of complaints and calls to address these issues has been inadequate. You have failed to make a public statement addressing the issue, respond to concerned users, or implement policies that would improve the situation. You have also acted inconsistently with regards to your policy on banning images, in many cases refusing to remove offensive rape and domestic violence pictures when reported by members of the public, but deleting them as soon as journalists mention them in articles, which sends the strong message that you are more concerned with acting on a case-by-case basis to protect your reputation than effecting systemic change and taking a clear public stance against the dangerous tolerance of rape and domestic violence.

In a world in which hundreds of thousands of women are assaulted daily and where intimate partner violence  remains one of the leading causes of death for women around the world, it is not possible to sit on the fence.  We call on Facebook to make the only responsible decision and take swift, clear action on this issue, to bring your policy on rape and domestic violence into line with your own moderation goals and guidelines.

 Sincerely,

Laura Bates, The Everyday Sexism Project

Soraya Chemaly, Writer and Activist

Jaclyn Friedman, Women, Action & the Media (WAM!)

Angel Band Project

Advocates for Youth

Anne Munch Consulting, Inc.

Arts Against Abuse

Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Rights Programme

Black Feminists

The Body is Not An Apology

Breakthrough

Caleb’s Hope

Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses

Canadian Women’s Foundation

Care2.org

Catharsis Productions

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

Collective Action for Safe Spaces

Collective Administrators of Rapebook

Collective Shout

Cornershop Creative

CounterQuo

Dear Facebook

End Violence Against Women Coalition

Equality Now

The EQUALS Coalition

FAAN Mail

The Fawcett Society

Fem 2.0

Feminist Peace Network

The Feminist Wire

FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture

A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World

Girls’ Globe

Guerilla Feminism

Hardy Girls, Healthy Women

Hollaback!

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

International Council of Jewish Women

Jackson Katz, PhD., Co-Founder and Director, Mentors in Violence Prevention

Je Suis Féministe

Lauren Wolfe, Director of WMC’s Women Under Siege

The Line Campaign

Make Me a Sammich

Making Herstory

Media Equity Collaborative

MissRepresentation.org

Ms. Magazine

New Moon Girls

No Hate Speech Movement

No More Page 3

O Clítoris da Razão

Object

Our Bodies, Ourselves

Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health

The Pixel Project

Powered By Girl

Rape Victim Advocates

RH Reality Check

Role/Reboot

Sanctuary for Families

SEASN (Solidarity, Equity & Activist Support Network)

Secular Woman

Sheryl Sandberg “Lean In” and Remove Misogyny from Facebook

The Sin City Siren

Social Media Week

SPARK Movement

Stop Street Harassment

Take Back the Tech!

Tech LadyMafia

Time To Tell

Unite Women NY

UniteWomen.org

The Uprising of Women in the Arab World

V-Day

The Voices and Faces Project

White Ribbon Campaign

Women In Media & News (WIMN)

Women Inspire Network

Women on the Edge Foundation

Women Online/The Mission List

The Women’s Media Center

Women’s Networking Hub

The Women’s Room

Women’s Views on News

World Wide Women

YWCA Canada

YWCA Moncton

YWCA Toronto

 

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences finalises country mission to India


 

 

Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences finalises country mission to India

NEW DELHI (1 May 2013) – At the end of her official country mission to India, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, delivered the following statement:

“I have been mandated by the Human Rights Council to seek and receive information on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and to recommend measures to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

I would like to begin by expressing my thanks to the Government of India for having invited me to visit the country from 22 April to 1 May. The invitation, which was in response to a request from my mandate, was received prior to the events that led to the death of a young woman in Delhi on 16 December 2012. The protest actions and outpouring of sadness and anger; and the extensive coverage by the media, both local and global; has generated a huge focus on the issue of violence against women and girls in India.  This mission has generated country-wide interest, and also, demands for the addressing of this systemic problem as an urgent imperative, at both the State and the non-state levels.

During my visit, I held meetings in New Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Manipur, and gathered information from other states, including Tamil Nadu. I am grateful to all my interlocutors, including Union and State authorities, National Human Rights Institutions, representatives of civil society organisations, and United Nations agencies. Most importantly, I want to thank the individual women who shared their personal experiences of violence and survival with me. The pain and anguish in the testimonies of loss, dispossession, and various human rights violations, was visceral and often difficult to deal with.

The Government of India has signed and ratified numerous international human rights instruments and has also adopted numerous progressive laws and policies at the Union and State levels. Numerous laws, including amendments to existing laws, have been enacted to address various manifestations of violence against women. Among others, these include: the Indian Penal Code which broadly includes crimes against women. This law includes the crimes of rape, kidnapping and abduction for specified purposes, homicide for dowry, torture, molestation, eve teasing, and the importation of girls, among others. More specific laws on crimes against women include: the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal) Act 2013, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, the Commission of Sati Prevention Act 1961, and the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 among others.

Furthermore, the following Bills are currently under discussion: the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill 2012, the Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Bill 2013, the Removal of Homelessness Bill 2013, the Prevention of Female Infanticide Bill 2013, the Abolition of Child Labour Bill 2013, the Child Welfare Bill 2013, the Indecent or Surrogate Advertisements and Remix Songs (Prohibition) Bill 2013 and among others.

At the institutional level, the realisation of the promotion and protection of human rights broadly, and women’s rights and children’s rights specifically, are vested in numerous Union and state level Ministries, Departments, Commissions, Committees and Missions for the empowerment of women. Furthermore, I was informed about numerous programs and policies that have been put in place in recent years to address the issue of violence against women within a human rights and development framework. These include schemes addressing the needs of victims of rape, trafficking, domestic violence, and so on. Some of these schemes address counselling, support, skills development, access to benefits and also to shelters. Public/private partnerships have been forged within different spheres including the police sector. The laws and schemes highlighted above will be analysed and discussed fully in my mission report.

I welcome the Government of India’s speedy response after the rape incident of 16 December. A judicial committee headed by the late Justice Verma was established, and new legislative measures were adopted earlier this year. While this legislative reform is to be commended, it is regrettable that the amendments do not fully reflect the Verma Committee’s recommendations.

It is unfortunate that the opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and non-discrimination rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination, and to protect and prevent against all forms of violence against women, was lost. The speedy developments and also the adoption of a law and order approach to sexual wrongs, now includes the death penalty for certain crimes against women. This development foreclosed the opportunity to establish a holistic and remedial framework which is underpinned by transformative norms and standards, including those relating to sexual and bodily integrity rights. Furthermore, the approach adopted fails to address the structural and root causes and consequences of violence against women.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is a positive development in the aspirational goal of protection for victims of family violence. The discrepancy between the provisions of the laws and the effective implementation thereof, whether through the use of the police generally or the Protection Officers in particular, was a recurrent complaint which I heard. Despite provisions intended to offer legal, social and financial assistance to victims, many women are unable to register their complaints. As a result, the vulnerability of women increases, and further, they are also deprived of the benefits prescribed in the law – as proof of registration of cases is required for access to many benefits. Furthermore, prevention of violence, as a core due diligence obligation of the State, does not feature in the implementation of this law.

Despite numerous positive developments, the unfortunate reality is that the rights of many women in India continue to be violated, with impunity as the norm, according to many submissions received. Mediation and compensation measures are often used as redress mechanisms to address cases of violence against women, thus eroding accountability imperatives, and further fostering norms of impunity.

Manifestations of violence against women

Numerous experiences of violence, whether direct or indirect, in different spheres including the home, the community, and in institutions, whether perpetrated by state actors or condoned by the State, was shared with me during the mission. Violence is being experienced in situations of peace, conflict, post-conflict, and displacement among others. The denial of constitutional  rights in general, and the violation of the rights of equality, dignity, bodily integrity, life and access to justice in particular, was a theme that was common in many testimonies. Violence against women as a cause and consequence of de factoinequality and discrimination was also a common theme in numerous submissions received.

Violence against women and girls in India manifests in numerous ways and varies in prevalence and forms based on numerous factors including geographic location. Some manifestations include: sexual violence, domestic violence, caste-based discrimination and violence, dowry related deaths, crimes in the name of honour, witch-hunting, sati, sexual harassment, violence against lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, forced and/or early marriages, deprivation of access to water and basic sanitation, violence against women with disabilities, sexual and reproductive rights violations, sex selection practices, violence in custodial settings and violence in conflict situations, among others. These manifestations of violence are rooted in multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities faced by women, and are strongly linked to their social and economic situation. One interlocutor described violence against women and girls as functioning on a continuum that spans the life-cycle from the womb to the tomb.

During my visit, I heard numerous testimonies of many women who are survivors of domestic violence, whether at the hands of their husbands or other family members. Many of these women live in family settings with deeply entrenched norms of patriarchy and cultural practices linked to notions of male superiority and female inferiority. The lack of effective remedies, the failure of the State to protect and prevent violence against women, the economic dependence of many women on the men in their lives, and the social realities of exclusion and marginalization when speaking out, often results in women accepting violence as part of their reality. The current focus by state actors on preserving the unity of the family is manifested in the welfare/social approach and not in the human rights based approach. It does not take into consideration the nature of relationships based on power and powerlessness; of economic and emotional dependency; and also the use of culture, tradition and religion as a defence for abusive behaviour.

Sexual violence and harassment in India is widespread, and is perpetuated in public spaces, in the family or in the workplace. There is a generalized sense of insecurity in public spaces/amenities/transport facilities in particular, and women are often victims of different forms of sexual harassment and assault.

On the issue of conflict-related sexual violence, it is crucial to acknowledge that these violations are occurring at the hands of both state and non-state actors. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has mostly resulted in impunity for human rights violations broadly, according to information received. The law protects the armed forces from effective prosecution in non-military courts for human rights violations committed against civilian women among others, and it allows for the overriding of due process rights. Furthermore, in testimonies received, it was clear that the interpretation and implementation of this act, is eroding fundamental rights and freedoms – including freedom of movement, association and peaceful assembly, safety and security, dignity and bodily integrity rights, for women, in Jammu & Kashmir and in the North-Eastern States. Unfortunately in the interests of State security, peaceful and legitimate protests often elicit a military response, which is resulting in both a culture of fear and of resistance within these societies.

In India, women from the Dalit, Adivasi, other Scheduled castes, tribal and indigenous minorities, are often victims of a multiplicity of forms of discrimination and violence. Despite protective legislative and affirmative action laws and policies, their reality is one where they exist at the bottom of the political, economic and social systems, and they experience some of the worst forms of discrimination and oppression – thereby perpetuating their socio-economic vulnerability across generations. They are often forced to live in displacement settings, experience forced labour practices, prostitution and trafficking, and also experience intra-community violations of rights.

In consultations in Manipur, I heard anguished stories from relatives of young women who have disappeared without trace or who were found dead shortly after going missing. The lack of response from the police is the norm in such cases, with the attitude being that these are mostly elopement cases. I am deeply concerned about other consequences of such disappearances of young women, including exposure to sexual abuse, exploitation or trafficking. More generally, many tribal and indigenous women in the region are subjected to continued abuse, ill-treatment and acts of physical and sexual violence. They are denied access to healthcare and other necessary resources, due to the frequency of curfews and blockades imposed on citizens. Moreover, the chronic underdevelopment prevalent in the region, coupled with frequent economic blockades, is having an impact on the overall cost of essential items, and is exacerbating the already vulnerable situation of women and children living in the region.

Customary and religious practices such as child marriages and dowry-related practices, sorcery, honour killings, witch-hunting of women, and communal violence perpetrated against cultural and religious minorities, were highlighted in numerous testimonies. Communal violence, inspired by religious intolerance, does manifest in some parts of India. Indiscriminate attacks by religious majorities on religious minorities, including Christian and Muslim minorities, is frequently explained away by implying that equal aggression was noted on both sides. Also, such violence is sometimes labelled as ‘riots’, thereby denying the lack of security for religious and other minorities, and disregarding their right to equal citizenship. This issue is of particular concern to many, as the wounds of the past are still fresh for women who were beaten, stripped naked, burnt, raped and killed because of their religious identity, in the Gujarat massacre of 2002.

I am also concerned about the declining female sex ratio in India. The deeply entrenched patriarchal social norms, prevailing views of daughter-aversion and son-preference, the dowry-related link, and, the general sense of insecurity in light of high prevalence rates of gender-based violence, is fuelling a significant drop in female births throughout the country. The Indian Government’s concern about this issue has resulted in the adoption of policies and schemes. The implementation of such interventions is resulting in the policing of pregnancies through tracking/surveillance systems and is resulting in some cases in the denial of legal abortion rights, thereby violating the sexual and reproductive rights of women.

With regard to domestic workers, I am dismayed by the prevalence of numerous violations faced by these women and girls. Many of them, often migrant and unregistered women, work in servitude and even bondage, in frequently hostile environments; performing work that is undervalued, poorly regulated and low-paid. According to testimonies, they are also denied access to essential services and resources provided by the State, as they lack proper identification, and view this as a barrier to access. They are often the victims of various acts of violence, including sexual harassment and victimization by their employers and others.

I have also been informed that women with disabilities experience numerous forms of violence, including sexual violence, forced sterilization and/or abortions and forced medication without their consent. In addition, their experience of discrimination, exclusion and marginalisation reinforces the need for greater attention and specificity.

India has embarked on a journey of aggressive economic growth and this path is viewed as the route to simultaneously addressing its human development challenges. Despite the inclusion of beneficial provisions for women and children in the Five Year Plan, the impact of economic development policies on women is resulting in forced evictions, landlessness, threats to livelihoods, environmental degradation, and the violation of bodily integrity rights, among other violations. The adverse consequence of resulting migration to urban areas is reflected in the living and work conditions of many of these women and children, for example living in slums or on the streets, engaging in scavenging activities and in sex work etc. Some women have committed suicide; others are frequently exposed to acts of harassment and violence, including sexual assault. It was strongly argued by many interlocutors that India’s pursuit of neo-liberal economic growth must not be pursued at the expense of vulnerable women and children, and their right to a healthy and secure environment.

Conclusion

Numerous human rights mechanisms have addressed the violation of women’s human rights in India. The substance of some relevant recommendations addresses the following issues:

1)    There is  a need for urgent measures to end the alarming decline in sex ratios (CEDAW, CRC)

2)    The negative effect of personal status laws on the achievement of overall gender equality (CRC, CCPR, and CEDAW). Such laws need to be reformed to ensure equality in law (CEDAW).

3)    The social and cultural patterns of discrimination against women require urgent action by the State (CEDAW).

4)    Ensure that all victims of domestic violence are able to benefit from the legislation on domestic violence. Develop a comprehensive plan to combat all forms of violence against women (CEDAW). Domestic violence is endemic. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code must be enforced effectively (CESCR).

5)    The implementation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the Public Safety Act and the National Security Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act should be repealed (HRC, SR Summary Executions), as it perpetuates impunity (HRC), and is widely used against Human Rights Defenders (SR HRD).

6)    Grave concerns are noted as regards the continuing atrocities perpetrated against Dalit women. There is a culture of impunity for violations of the rights of Dalit women (CEDAW). Concerns are further expressed for the failure to properly register and investigate complaints of violations against scheduled castes and tribes, the high rate of acquittals, the low conviction rates, and the alarming backlog of cases related to such atrocities (CRC, CEDAW and CERD).

7)    The practice of devadasi is of concern (HRC). The effective enforcement of relevant legislation and the Indian Constitution is required to end this practice (CERD).

8)    To expeditiously enact the proposed Communal Violence (Prevention, Control andRehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005 with the incorporation of: sexual and gender-based crimes, including mass crimes against women perpetrated during communal violence; a comprehensive system of reparations for victims of such crimes; and gender-sensitive victim-centred procedural and evidentiary rules, and to ensure that inaction or complicity of State officials in communal violence be urgently addressed under this legislation.

9)    Grave concern is expressed about the continued existence of women and girls employed as domestic workers and their experiences of sexual abuse (CEDAW).

10) Harmful practices on women and girls, including forced marriage, dowry and dowry-related violence are of great concern (CEDAW, CRC, CERD, and HRC). Violence and social sanctions due to inter-caste relationships are also of concern (CERD).

11) The impact of mega-projects on the rights of women should be thoroughly studied, including their impact on tribal and rural communities, and safeguards should be instituted (CEDAW).

12) Continuing disparities in literacy levels are of concern, in particular the educational status of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Muslim women (CEDAW). Effective measures must be adopted to reduce the drop-out rates among Dalit girls (CERD).

13) More effort is needed to end customary practices which deprive women fromunderprivileged classes, castes and religious minorities of their rights to human dignity and to non-discrimination (HRC).

I would like to encourage the government of India to ensure specificity in addressing the multiple and intersecting inequalities and discrimination that women face. My mandate has consistently voiced the view that the failure in response and prevention measures stems from Government’s inability and/or unwillingness to acknowledge and address the core structural causes of violence against women. Linkages should be made between violence against women and other systems of oppression and discrimination prevalent within societies. A legislative and policy approach will not bring about substantive change if it is not implemented within a holistic approach that simultaneously targets the empowerment of women, social transformation, and the provision of remedies that ultimately address the continuum of discrimination and violence, and also the pervasive culture of impunity.

My comprehensive findings will be discussed in the report that I will present to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014.”

ENDS

Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Manjoo also holds a part-time position as a Professor in the Department of Public Law of the University of Cape Town. Learn more, visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/index.htm

Gujarat Cops don’t cooperate with women complainants: Activist


The Times of India, 15 March 2013

VADODARA: Days within the Supreme Court rapped the Punjab and Bihar police for their excesses on women, a city-based NGO has accused them of being insensitive towards cases of sexual harassment and domestic violence. Activist Trupti Shah, who runs non-governmental organization for women’s rights, said the city police don’t cooperate with women complainants and instead make them do rounds of the police station.

She cited a recent case of a working woman, who wanted to file FIR against her company’s chief operating officer (COO) for sexual harassment. “When she approached Chhani police in October last year, they asked her to strike a compromise with the company. They told her that it was in her own interests,” Shah told TOI.

“The victim had agreed to compromise if the COO tendered a written apology, but when it didn’t happen, she approached the cops. The police instead told her that registering such complaint would put blot on her name. The then police inspector even shouted at me and accused me of instigating the girl,” Shah said and added that while her complaint was taken in January this year, the police refused to register it as per the details provided by her.

Shah claimed that she got 10 cases of domestic violence and two cases of sexual harassment in last eight months. “In six cases of domestic violence, no FIR was registered as the police insisted the women strike a compromise,” Shah said.

Shah has written to city police commissioner, state DGP, National Commission for Women and Gujarat State Commission for Women informing them about the problems faced by women complainants.

#India- All-Women Bank is A Non-Solution #Budget2013 #Womenrights


FEBRUARY 28, 2013
Kavita Krishnan

kavita Krishnan

Kavita Krishnan is secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.

She can be contacted at Kavitakrish73@gmail.com

Women’s Safety and Welfare Need Adequate Budgetary Allocations,

Not Hollow and Cynical Gestures

The Govt Takes Nirbhaya’s Name, Why Hasn’t It Provided Budgetary Backing for the Rehabilitation and Medical Care of All Rape and Acid Attack Survivors?

The Finance Minister’s Budget speech made several references to women. But since these have not been backed by sufficient allocations in the required areas, these references appear to be mere token and hollow gestures.

The ‘Nirbhaya fund’ is the most glaring instance of this. In the case of Nirbhaya (the Delhi gang-rape braveheart), the Government had responded to the public outcry by taking over all the medical costs of Nirbhaya. The Congress party leaders had even offered a flat to her family members. The Budget was the Government’s chance to show that these were not mere ‘charity’ gestures in one single case. In fact, the Government ought to show that it owns responsibility for the safety of all women, by providing every single survivor of rape or acid attacks with state-funded rehabilitation and medical care. The 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund, a mere corpus fund rather than a Budgetary allocation, is as of now far from adequate for covering the rehabilitation and medical costs of survivors of gender violence. In Haryana, dalit rape survivors have been forced to relocate away from their village, and the Government has ignored their demands for rehabilitation costs. Acid attack survivors and grievously injured rape survivors (as in Nirbhaya’s case) often have to travel for specialized medical care such as burns units, plastic surgery, and certain operations. Such travel costs ought to be covered by the Government also. For the Government to cynically use Nirbhaya’s name for a fund that fails to offer a guarantee of support for all survivors of gender violence, is shameful. The Rs 200 crore that has been allocated to the WCD Ministry is again, inadequate as well as vague as to its purpose.

Legislations against violence faced by women (such as the Domestic Violence Act and laws against sexual violence) need to be backed by budgetary allocations. The Budget should also have announced specific allocations for safe houses and shelters for women who face domestic violence, incest, and for homeless women. There are any number of instances where girls and women facing incest are forced to continue to stay in the same house as their molester, for want of a safe shelter. Homeless women remain ever-vulnerable to violence on the streets. And the few existing shelters are so harsh in their conditions that women commonly refer to many of them as ‘women’s jails.’

One can compare these amounts (1000 crore, 200 crore) with the Budget’s statement of revenues foregone. The Budget promises to forego revenues to the tune of 68007.6 crore on corporate taxpayers (defined by the Government as prioritised tax payers) for the year 2012-13; in 2011-12 this amount was 61765.3 crore. If the Government can write off taxes to the tune of between 60-70000 crore every year for super-rich corporations as ‘incentives’, why is it that women’s safety is not seen as a similar priority by the Government?

The Finance Minister’s announcement of a public sector women’s bank is rather mystifying. Why can’t existing public sector banks offer affordable institutional loans to women? By creating a women’s bank (whose purpose is as yet unclear), are existing banks being absolved of their responsibilities to women? Like the SHGs (which leave women debtors at the mercy of the micro-finance institutions), the women-only banks might end up being projected as the highly inadequate and misplaced ‘substitute’ for institutional bank-support for women.

The Government should, in addition, have announced allocations to ensure more judges and courts (to ensure speedier trials); forensic investigations facilities all over the country, and primary health care centres in every village, specially equipped to deal with diagnostics and care for women.

Kavita Krishnan,

Secretary, AIPWA

On behalf of the ongoing Bekhauf Azadi campaign against sexual violence

 

Does Facebook have a problem with women? #Vaw #WTFnews


Facebook insists there’s no place on its site for hate speech or content that is threatening or incites violence. So why do images that seem to glorify rape and domestic violence keep appearing?

Facebook

Does Facebook have a problem with women? The question has been around since 2011 when Eve Ensler and Ms Magazine drew attention to the social networking site’s failure to remove misogynistic images that seemed to glorify rape and domestic violence.

Then the issue came back again with users taking to Twitter in recent weeks to express their anger at Facebook’s refusal to remove images that tried to make a joke of rape. Two in particular were widely circulated. One showed a woman bound and gagged on a sofa and a caption that read: “It’s not rape. If she really didn’t want to, she’d have said something.” The second showed a condom, beneath the words “Plan A”; an emergency contraceptive pill, “Plan B“; and then “Plan C”, a man pushing a woman with a bloodied face down the stairs.

The site’s community standards state: “Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech.” What is not clear, in spite of several high-profile campaigns and a Change.org petition that garnered more than 200,000 signatures, is how it makes that distinction. Over the past few years, women say they have been banned from the site and seen their pages removed for posting images of cupcakes iced like labia, pictures of breastfeeding mothers and photographs of women post-mastectomy.

Yet images currently appearing on the site include a joke about raping a disabled child, a joke about sex with an underage girl and image after image after image of women beaten, bloodied and black-eyed in graphic domestic violence “jokes”. There are countless groups with names such as “Sum sluts need their throats slit” and “Its Not ‘rape’ If They’re Dead And If They’re Alive Its Surprise Sex”. One of the worst images I came across in a brief search shows a woman’s flesh, with the words “Daddy f*cked me and I loved it” carved into it in freshly bleeding wounds.

A Facebook spokesperson insisted: “There is no place on Facebook for hate speech or content that is threatening or incites violence.”

Jules Hillier, executive director of policy and communications at Brook, the young people’s sexual health charity, says: “Social media can be brilliant, giving young women and young men a space for debate and discussion and giving organisations such as ours a route to provide information and advice. But it’s a double-edged sword. I only wish that facts and support circulated half as fast as myths, misinformation, bullying and abuse, all of which social media also opens up opportunities for.”

When I contacted Facebook to get a comment on the two images circulating on Twitter, the entire page (charmingly named “Butthurt? well. GET the FUCK OUT”) had been removed by the time they rang back. A spokesperson said it was not because the images contravened its terms, but because the administrator had failed to publicly associate his or her profile with the page. I can find no mention of this requirement in Facebook’s community standards, and it hardly mitigates the publication of such material anyway.

When I asked if the banned cupcake images could have been removed in error by an automated image scanner, the spokesperson said it was very unlikely. So it was a human decision to ban the image of a cupcake. Just as it is a human decision to allow pages such as “Teen SLUT pics” to continue to publish images of very young-looking girls, with no evidence they gave consent for their photographs to be used.

“We take reports of questionable and offensive content very seriously,” said the Facebook spokesperson. “However, we also want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others. Groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies.”

There is a common argument that these pages are “harmless”, and those who do not like them should simply not look at them. But anyone whose friend “likes” one of these images can find it popping up without warning in their newsfeed timeline. Each image normalises gender-based violence, sending the message to both victims and perpetrators that ours is a culture that doesn’t take it seriously.

Feminist writer and activist Soraya Chemaly says: “It’s not about censorship in the end. It’s about choosing to define what is acceptable. Facebook clearly accepts representations of some forms of violence, namely violence against women, as qualitatively different from others.”

The Facebook spokesperson said: “It’s not Facebook’s job to define what is acceptable. We work hard to keep our users from direct harm, but in the end, censorship is not the solution to bad online behaviour or offensive beliefs. Having the freedom to debate serious issues like this is how we fight prejudice.”

For those who believe there is no relation between the treatment and perception of women in the real world and the cultural norms promoted by the most used social networking site on the planet, here is a selection of comments. Some are from those “harmless” Facebook pages. Some are from real women’s experiences, reported to the Everyday Sexism Project. And some are examples of the abuse that I have received, as a woman daring to write about women online.

“You have a choice to have sex, I have the choice to rape you.”

“If you don’t stop giving me shit I’ll pay four of my friends to gang rape you.”

“Go ahead, call the cops – they can’t un-rape you.”

“The only reason you have been put on this planet is so we can fuck you. Please die.”

Can you tell the difference?

 

• Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project

 

Rape Culture, Capitalism and India #AFSPA #Vaw


 

Invite- A midnight march in #Hyderabad @Jan 5, 2013 #Vaw


Dear All,

Some of us in Hyderabad have been planning to organize a mid night march for a while now where women can claim their right on the night space. With the recent energy everywhere, we think we should go ahead this idea sooner than later.

 

We also have a facebook page. Please like and share it with your friends-
https://www.facebook.com/MidnightMarchHyderabad?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite


The march will not focus on the delhi incident alone but about all kinds of sexual violence against women. We are trying to mobilize organized and unorganized working class, women, students and IT employees, transgender community etc. Please spread the around and give us any contacts you have to help mobilize women from different walks of life in Hyderabad.

Date: 5th Jan 2013 
Time : From 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Route : From Tankbund to Liberty to Punjagutta.

For regular updates check facebook page

 Below is a small write up about the why we want to do this march
                                                            Night Monologue
 
This is night’s (8pm-5am) letter to the people of Hyderabad.
Dear women and men,
I am dark and beautiful and have the moon, the stars and the cool air. I have the lights and I am subtle. Yet, in spite of all these virtues, I am jealous of the day. The day, she has millions walking around without fear, or with lesser fear. Men, women and children, all moving  around, in the stark whiteness of the sun. Well, most cultures hate me, I am discriminated against, I am evil and I am where all the wrong happens and the women have particularly been made to hate me and fear me. If they don’t adhere to hating me, they are punished and incarcerated for liking me.
I see a change in the metros of India – men and women are beginning to walk and travel around at night too. However, women are still punished and they still fear me. Look at the steel and concrete skeletons gathering their flesh, women working all around making their walls, twenty-four-seven to fill their and their children’s stomachs  (sometimes their men’s alcohol needs) and in this pursuit, they face abuse day in and day out. And the woe of the women who leave their homes to feed hungry mouths in their village, the bus stands and buses become arenas for men to exhibit their male brutality. Oh yes! The young free generation that wants to enjoy me need their men and their cars around to keep them safe. The day witnesses them too but not the way I do – I am torn and wretched, witnessing the violence that women face. But I am hopeful for a better future, where I am less hated and feared.
Women, come out and meet me, I can be safe if you claim me. Men, join the women in making me a safe space. There is more beauty and comfort when both men and women can walk without fear in my streets.
Come join me in large numbers and set me free!
Warm regards,
Night.
FREE THE NIGHT: it belongs to both men and women
·         Why is it dangerous for women to walk at night?
·         Why does a woman need to be protected by a man, (can men really protect women?)
·         Why can’t men and women co-exist in the night streets as well? (not that we have a harmonious existence during the day either)
·         Why can’t men be trusted to not abuse women?
·         Why can’t we make the space safe instead of keeping women indoors?
The conservative and conventional answer:
o   It’s our culture and it won’t change overnight.
o   Why do you want to risk your safety?
o   Think of your parents /husband/children.
o   Men are like that, i.e. they are primitive and cannot control themselves.
o   It is not possible to police the streets everywhere, all the time.
o   Women are inviting trouble by going out at night.
o   Only loose women walk at night.
A lot of these reasons might seem valid, however, as young women in Hyderabad, we would like to see these questions addressed and the night space more women friendly.
Like most women in India, we have faced sexual harassment of varying degrees and circumstances have led us to realize that the night space in particular is one where women are most vulnerable, be it working, using the libraries, hanging out with friends, travelling, emergency situations, taking a walk etc. This violence is experienced by women of every class, caste, age group, religion and ethnicity in our country and the world.
Ø  The question should no longer be about just keeping ourselves safe but of making the night safe for everyone, men, women, transgender and children.
Ø  Giving culture as an answer cannot justify inequality of accessing any type of space.
Ø  Saying that men are primitive should not take away a responsibility from perpetrators of sexual abuse in any space, including(!!) the night space.
Ø  Husbands, fathers, sons – tell each other that’s it’s not a matter of a girl/woman being raped, it’s a matter of a guy raping a girl. Start seeing that that being safe or unsafe is not in the inherent nature of the night, it’s in the nature in which we behave at night.
Ø  And many more…..
Perhaps we can start with small steps of reclaiming this space that men have ruled and while doing so, some of them abused women who tried to enter it.
We want a midnight walk in the city to send a message to the women that the night is also ours and to the men they need to respect women as fellow humans in the night too.
We envision it to be a cultural event as much as a political event. We would like your ideas and support in making this thought a reality.
Tejaswini and Natha

 

 

#MaritalRape and the Indian legal scenario #mustshare #Vaw


marital-rape-poster
Priyanka Rath seeks to bring out the laws regarding rape in India while concentrating on the position of marital rape and its recognition as an offence by the system and the attitude of the society and the judiciary towards marital rape.

Marital Raperefers to unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she is unable to give consent. Marital rape could be by the use of force only, a battering rape or a sadistic/obsessive rape. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion by a husband against the wife where she is physically and sexually abused.

Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband. The UN Population Fund states that more than 2/3rds of married women in India, aged between 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. In 2005, 6787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husbands’ families. 56% of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified.

Historically, “Raptus”, the generic term of rape was to imply violent theft, applied to both property and person. It was synonymous with abduction and a woman’s abduction or sexual molestation, was merely the theft of a woman against the consent of her guardian or those with legal power over her. The harm, ironically, was treated as a wrong against her father or husband, women being wholly owned subsidiaries.

The marital rape exemption can be traced to statements by Sir Mathew Hale, Chief Justice in England, during the 1600s. He wrote, “The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given herself in kind unto the husband, whom she cannot retract.”

Not surprisingly, thus, married women were never the subject of rape laws. Laws bestowed an absolute immunity on the husband in respect of his wife, solely on the basis of the marital relation. The revolution started with women activists in America raising their voices in the 1970s for elimination of marital rape exemption clause and extension of guarantee of equal protection to women.

In the present day, studies indicate that between 10 and 14% of married women are raped by their husbands: the incidents of marital rape soars to 1/3rd to ½ among clinical samples of battered women. Sexual assault by one’s spouse accounts for approximately 25% of rapes committed. Women who became prime targets for marital rape are those who attempt to flee. Criminal charges of sexual assault may be triggered by other acts, which may include genital contact with the mouth or anus or the insertion of objects into the vagina or the anus, all without the consent of the victim. It is a conscious process of intimidation and assertion of the superiority of men over women.

Advancing well into the timeline, marital rape is not an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, one of the most humiliating and debilitating acts is not an offence in India. A look at the options a woman has to protect herself in a marriage, tells us that the legislations have been either non-existent or obscure and everything has just depended on the interpretation by Courts.

Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), has echoing very archaic sentiments, mentioned as its exception clause- “Sexual intercourse by  man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” Section 376 of IPC provides punishment for rape. According to the section, the rapist should be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to life or for a term extending up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine unless the woman raped is his own wife, and is not under 12 years of age, in which case, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years with fine or with both.

This section in dealing with sexual assault, in a very narrow purview lays down that, an offence of rape within marital bonds stands only if the wife be less than 12 years of age, if she be between 12 to 16 years, an offence is committed, however, less serious, attracting milder punishment. Once, the age crosses 16, there is no legal protection accorded to the wife, in direct contravention of human rights regulations.

How can the same law provide for the legal age of consent for marriage to be 18 while protecting form sexual abuse, only those up to the age of 16? Beyond the age of 16, there is no remedy the woman has.

The wife’s role has traditionally been understood as submissive, docile and that of a homemaker. Sex has been treated as obligatory in a marriage and also taboo. Atleast the discussion openly of it, hence, the awareness remains dismal. Economic independence, a dream for many Indian women still is an undeniably important factor for being heard and respected. With the women being fed the bitter medicine of being “good wives”, to quietly serve and not wash dirty linen in public, even counseling remains inaccessible.

Legislators use results of research studies as an excuse against making marital rape an offence, which indicates that many survivors of marital rape, report flash back, sexual dysfunction, emotional pain, even years out of the violence and worse, they sometimes continue living with the abuser. For these reasons, even the latest report of the Law Commission has preferred to adhere to its earlier opinion of non-recognition of “rape within the bonds of marriage” as such a provision may amount top excessive interference wit the marital relationship.

A marriage is a bond of trust and that of affection. A husband exercising sexual superiority, by getting it on demand and through any means possible, is not part of the institution. Surprisingly, this is not, as yet, in any law book in India.

The very definition of rape (section 375 of IPC) demands change. The narrow definition has been criticized by Indian and international women’s and children organizations, who insist that including oral sex, sodomy and penetration by foreign objects within the meaning of rape would not have been inconsistent with nay constitutional provisions, natural justice  or equity. Even international law now says that rape may be accepted a s the “sexual penetration, not just penal penetration, but also threatening, forceful, coercive use of force against the victim, or the penetration by any object, however slight.” Article 2 of the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women includes marital rape explicitly in the definition of violence against women. Emphasis on these provisions is not meant to tantalize, but to give the victim and not the criminal, the benefit of doubt.

Marital rape is illegal in 18 American States, 3 Australian States, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rape in any form is an act of utter humiliation, degradation and violation rather than an outdated concept of penile/vaginal penetration. Restricting an understanding of rape reaffirms the view that rapists treat rape as sex and not violence and hence, condone such behaviour.

The importance of consent for every individual decision cannot be over emphasized. A woman can protect her right to life and liberty, but not her body, within her marriage, which is just ironical. Women so far have had recourse only to section 498-A of the IPC, dealing with cruelty, to protect themselves against “perverse sexual conduct by the husband”. But, where is the standard of measure or interpretation for the courts, of ‘perversion’ or ‘unnatural’, the definitions within intimate spousal relations? Is excessive demand for sex perverse? Isn’t consent a sine qua non? Is marriage a license to rape? There is no answer, because the judiciary and the legislature have been silent.

The 172nd Law Commission report had made the following recommendations for substantial change in the law with regard to rape.

  1. ‘Rape’ should be replaced by the term ‘sexual assault’.
  2. ‘Sexual intercourse as contained in section 375 of IPC should include all forms of penetration such as penile/vaginal, penile/oral, finger/vaginal, finger/anal and object/vaginal.
  3. In the light of Sakshi v. Union of India and Others [2004 (5) SCC 518], ‘sexual assault on any part of the body should be construed as rape.
  4. Rape laws should be made gender neutral as custodial rape of young boys has been neglected by law.
  5. A new offence, namely section 376E with the title ‘unlawful sexual conduct’ should be created.
  6. Section 509 of the IPC was also sought to be amended, providing higher punishment where the offence set out in the said section is committed with sexual intent.
  7. Marital rape: explanation (2) of section 375 of IPC should be deleted. Forced sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife should be treated equally as an offence just as any physical violence by a husband against the wife is treated as an offence. On the same reasoning, section 376 A was to be deleted.
  8. Under the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), when alleged that a victim consented to the sexual act and it is denied, the court shall presume it to be so.

The much awaited Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DVA) has also been a disappointment. It has provided civil remedies to what the provision of cruelty already gave criminal remedies, while keeping the status of the matter of marital rape in continuing disregard. Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, amongst other things in the definition of domestic violence, has included any act causing harm, injury, anything endangering health, life, etc., … mental, physical, or sexual.

It condones sexual abuse in a domestic relationship of marriage or a live-in, only if it is life threatening or grievously hurtful. It is not about the freedom of decision of a woman’s wants. It is about the fundamental design of the marital institution that despite being married, she retains and individual status, where she doesn’t need to concede to every physical overture even though it is only be her husband. Honour and dignity remains with an individual, irrespective of marital status.

Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act prevents communication during marriage from being disclosed in court except when one married partner is being persecuted for n offence against the other. Since, marital rape is not an offence, the evidence is inadmissible, although relevant, unless it is a prosecution for battery, or some related physical or mental abuse under the provision of cruelty. Setting out to prove the offence of marital rape in court, combining the provisions of the DVA and IPC will be a nearly impossible task.

The trouble is, it has been accepted that a marital relationship is practically sacrosanct. Rather than, making the wife worship the husband’s every whim, especially sexual, it is supposed to thrive n mutual respect and trust. It is much more traumatic being a victim of rape by someone known, a family member, and worse to have to cohabit with him. How can the law ignore such a huge violation of a fundamental right of freedom of any married woman, the right to her body, to protect her from any abuse?

As a final piece of argument to show the pressing need for protection of woman, here are some effects a rape victim may have to live with,-

  • Physical injuries to vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, bruising.
  • Anxiety, shock, depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Gynecological effects including miscarriage, stillbirths, bladder infections, STDs and infertility.
  • Long drawn symptoms like insomnia, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, and negative self image.

Marriage does not thrive on sex and the fear of frivolous litigation should not stop protection from being offered to those caught in abusive traps, where they are denigrated to the status of chattel. Apart form judicial awakening; we primarily require generation of awareness. Men are the perpetrators of this crime. ‘Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps protect women’s human rights’, says the UN. Men have the social, economic, moral, political, religious and social responsibility to combat all forms of gender discrimination.

In a country rife with misconceptions of rape, deeply ingrained cultural and religious stereotypes, and changing social values, globalization has to fast alter the letter of law.

source-http://www.indialawjournal.com/

#India-Criminal recognition to #maritalrape in India is long overdue #Vaw


marital-rape-poster

Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, TNN Dec 4, 2012, 10.26PM IST

 

MUMBAI: A case in a Delhi court this week has put the spotlight on a crucial lacuna in the criminal justice system in India. Marital rape is not recognised under the Indian Penal Code.

The missing link was highlighted yet again in a case where a Delhi court acquitted a man of charges of raping his wife on the premise that having sexual relations with a spouse, even if forcibly, did not amount to ‘marital rape‘. India has taken some significant steps in fighting marital violence in recent years, but criminal recognition for forced sex in marriages is still long over due. The first positive step was taken when the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was passed wherein a woman could file a civil case for separation from her spouse.

Section 376 (A) deals with marital rape only when it is with regard to judicially separated partners. It takes humungous effort for a victim of rape to lodge a complaint, especially within a marriage and the offence is believed to be widely under-reported in any case. Such cases suffer due to the lack of awareness in many quarters that forced sex under any circumstances is a violation. The patriarchal culture of Indian society often works to further detriment to invalidate such claims. For those who muster the courage, it would help if the system was a little more sensitised and the offence didn’t fall in a legal vacuum. Currently, victims can lodge a complaint of marital discord or domestic violence.

Over 104 countries have laws to protect victims against marital rape according to the United Nations and it is perhaps time India at least recognise the offence as a crime in its penal code. It remains to be seen whether the amendment to the criminal procedure code which is currently underway offers any true respite in this matter. Criminalisation is after all only the first step to justice. We still have a long way to go to address further issues of counselling, rehabilitation and shelter to such victims. Unwanted pregnancies arising out of such rapes too need addressing.