I would be delighted to personally come across a woman who has never experienced a form of violence in her life. Before you raise your hand to tell me that you haven’t, let me explain the violence against women we are talking about here.
According to the United Nations, any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats whether occurring in public or private life is violence. Sorry to burst your bubble but if you ever have felt under threat by the look, unwanted attention, random slurs while you walk minding your business amongst other things, then you come under this sad category.
The amount of ignorance on this concept speaks for itself. If you are still not alarmed, let me shoot some figures your way.
- A WHO global study concluded that 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.
- Nearly 15 million adolescent girls internationally have gone through forced sex.
- 750 million women and girls are forced into marriage before they turn 18 years of age.
- More than 250 million women and girls have experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
- In 2012, 1 out of 2 women worldwide were murdered by their partners or families.
- 71% of victims of human trafficking are women and girls.
- 3 out of 4 girls who are trafficked come across sexual exploitation.
Today the world is observing International Day for Elimination of violence against women. It is an opportunity for communities, governments, and organizations to speak against and work towards overthrowing violence against women and making this world a better and safer place.
As our contribution to this global marking, we would expand on the different forms of ferocities women encounter.
Violence Against Women in India
Women, unlike men, were never given anything. We had to fight for everything we have today. Be it our right to vote, right to run in marathons, right to work, right to maternity leave, and though it’s the 21st century, we are still fighting for our right to life. Violence against women is the most widespread violation of human rights. It comes in manifold forms and impacts a woman up to decades (no, generations!).
You would be surprised to know how frequently you encounter acts of sexual violence. If you want one simple on-spot example, you can simply open the ‘other’ or ‘message requests’ folder on your social media. Don’t be amazed to find unsolicited pictures of male genitalia or flirts from a man who looks 50 years old, or something else. All of this entails what we call cyberharassment. An act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by coercion is known as sexual violence. And no, it does not only comes from strangers. Sexual violence does not see your relationship with the attacker.
Domestic violence against women
Domestic abuse is a common (but misfortunate) phenomenon in India. Between 960,000 and 3,000,000 cases of domestic violence against women are reported in India each year. Please note that a large number of incidents go unreported because of a lack of awareness and power imbalance. Our society still has conflicting views on marital rape. Some people do not even acknowledge that marital rape exists. They fail to understand that marriage is not a license for sexual or domestic violence. Partner abuse and femicide (killing a woman because she is a woman) also still exist.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM is the cutting or injuring of a woman’s or girl’s genital on account of religious conventions. Certain religions do not allow women to seek sexual pleasure. In order to reclaim their control of power, they carry a procedure of FGM. Precisely, the clitoris of a women’s vulva is deliberately removed or injured to disable her sexual desire. It is believed that women should only have intercourse in order to bear children. This is clearly a hindrance to women’s rights to her body. On top of this, new research shows that the clitoris also has certain reproductive functions which means all the grounds for FGM do not hold.
Trafficking is a recall of slavery. Women and men are sold like objects and forced into all kinds of works. Most women that undergo trafficking are compelled to do sex work or prostitution. The ill-environments that these people subside in also make it a health issue. Many of the women experience various forms and levels of sexual exploitation. Although it is illegal in India, the problem remains to be of significance to women in particular.
India is infamous for its bad child sex ration. It is a male dominant society where femicide is very common. In some states, the male-female ratio is so bad that grooms travel as far as to foreign countries in search of their companion. Governments run campaigns like ‘Beti padhao, Beti Bachao’ because there is a great absence of education. Such ratios lead to other forms of violence like trafficking. Child marriage is no news to Indians. The practice of illegally getting an underage girl married restricts their options in life. The problem was prominently highlighted years ago in a daily soap called “Balika vadhu”. It is one of the gravest problems that Indians face.
Another form of violence against women comes is the aspect of honor killing. We live in a country where the caste divide and discrimination lead to murders. There are conversative beliefs among communities that the women in their household will be married to someone from the same or upper caste. If the woman revolts and gets married against the wills of her family, the result is her killing. As heinous as it sounds, the violence remains a sad reality of our times.
Impacts on Health
Despite widespread protests, encouraging movies, blood-raging articles, and books, there is little that we all do to combat this violence. How many times have you stood up for a colleague who has faced sexism at work? Or how many times have you countered the misogynist ideas of the elderly in your family? Or signed a petition against domestic abuse. Ladies, you do not have to go through the abuse to feel how intense its impact can be. Gentlemen, you do not have to see a friend or a family member battle against these to know that it’s time.
Violence against women, in any form, has adverse impacts on a woman’s health. Primarily, her mental, physical, reproductive and sexual health are more prone to hurt if she experiences these acts. An act of sexual violence can lead a person into trauma. To name a few, a woman can suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, severe injuries, bruises, wounds and more. The effects of domestic violence on women’s mental health are long-lasting and disrupt how much she trusts someone.
International Day for Elimination of violence against women calls for immediate action. The theme for 2019 is “Orange the World in 16 days”. It calls for 16 days of activism against gender violence. We have attempted to describe most forms of violence that women encounter in the article above. Here are some things you can do to join this fight:
- Stand up against any forms of violence against women in India
- Educate yourself and others
- Always report an act of domestic or sexual abuse, no matter how small it may seem to you
Call these helpline numbers in case of emergencies
- Women in Distress – 1091
- Domestic Abuse – 181
- National Commission for Women (NCW) – 011-23237166, 23234918
- Delhi Commission For Women – 011-23379181, 23370597
Also, read about how to cop up with Harassment in the 21st Century
For any health-related queries or information on women’s health, speak to Credihealth medical expert at +918010994994