OFFENCES AGAINST WOMEN- A NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Author: Saee Gunjikar, II Year of B.A.,LL.B from Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur.
When riding a bicycle, we always make sure that the two wheels are in good balance for smooth operation and, most importantly, for the bicycle to go ahead. Similarly, because women are such an important element of society, it is the people of the nation and the world's responsibility to preserve an equitable balance between men and women in society. Without a doubt, women are valued equally to males in society, yet this raises an unsettling question in people's minds: do women receive the same value as men in society? The answer is likely to be negative. Many evil rituals and traditions, in addition to overstepping patriarchy, have enslaved women within the confines of their homes, robbing them of their right to live a life of their own. No matter how advanced or contemporary we become, none of this will matter unless societal discrimination is eliminated, not only in a social sense but also in a mental sense. It is high time that we confront gender-based violence and provide acceptable, efficient solutions. However, the purpose of this research paper is to examine several offences existing and addressed by the Constitution and various conventions, organizations enacted throughout the world which leads the reader to explore the international perspective on this sensitive matter. The research paper also intends to provide facts and statistics to eloquently establish the presence of the aforementioned concerns, as well as a few corrective methods that a layperson may put into practice in their everyday lives with the goal of combating women's oppression in society and throughout the world in the future.
Gender-based violence (GBV), oppression of women, offences against women, patriarchy, human rights violation, societal discrimination.
The goal of this secondary data analysis is to examine the situation of women throughout the world in terms of oppression and crimes perpetrated against society's members. The report also makes a blunt distinction between the current situation and the historical context, highlighting the dramatic shift in people's attitudes regarding women in society.
Furthermore, the paper informs the reader about a few significant conventions and regulations that are enforced throughout the country and around the world, which will help them understand the urgency and seriousness of the nature of these offences. Finally, the researcher elucidates certain suggestions by analyzing the mindset and social situation in societies with the use of data acquired mostly from various study papers, statistical reports, and websites of various governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The 'Rigveda,' an ancient collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, is the earliest known Vedic Sanskrit literature. With evidence of its reference in one of Hinduism's most significant texts throughout India's history, this sacred scripture has been used to compare the position of women in ancient India.
The findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 are examined and stated by the researcher in order to demonstrate the seriousness of the high percentage of offences committed against women in India.
The statistics of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have been highlighted and stated by the researcher which shows the number of rape cases in the country.
The report of the 'National Commission of Women in India, 2020’ has been analyzed and examined which reveals the approximate number of incidences of sexual harassment and cybercrime committed against women in India.
Women were held in high regard in early Vedic civilization due to their significant role in performing rituals and yojanas. Women's roles have been particularly defined in one of Hinduism's most revered canonical scriptures, the Rigveda. With every access to education, women had self-reliance and independence, with immense potential to find the genuine realities. With occupations like needlework, sewing, and ceramics, women played a major part in the family's economic position. Furthermore, the treatise reveals that women were valued and respected not just because of their status as home mistresses in society, but also as individuals with immense ability to contribute to human civilization. The origins of female deity worship may be traced back to this time period, when femininity was regarded as divine in society.
However, after the Vedic period, there has been a significant decline in the social strata of women in society as a result of invasions from various dynasties, which have risked their dignity in the most immoral way conceivable. Later, with an overstepping patriarchy that subjugated women and chained them to the confines of their homes, many biased rituals and traditions were developed. Sexual violence against women, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has stated, is entrenched in centuries of male dominance.
And since then, such oppressions have resulted in a serious decline in the strata of women, with statistics showing a decline in sex-ratio, literacy status, health, and political participation, as well as the emergence of other issues such as dowry death, bride burning, harassment of women, and their exploitation at work in major parts of the world, with the number of cases increasing day by day. As the societal roles have plastered a concrete image of this differentiation, which has stereotypically moulded the current scenario placing women subordinate to men, women considered to be the weaker sex with weak societal defense, they are prone to the most offences against them. These crimes include not just bodily violence but also sexual and psychological injury. The United Nation defines violence against women as-
Any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in bodily, sexual, or mental injury or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
Similarly, the Beijing Conference's Platform for Action said that-
Violence against women is a barrier to achieving gender equality, development, and peace. It hinders women from their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Major Offenses Committed Against Women
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a broad category of crimes perpetrated against women that is not limited to a single location or country, but rather spreads like a pandemic, impacting one in every three women at some point in their lives. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 in India, 29.5 percent of women have encountered physical abuse since the age of 15 and 21.2 percent have experienced physical violence in the preceding 12 months. While these are only estimates, many cases go unreported or are not even brought to the attention of the public. Rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, eve-teasing, and even cybercrime can now be classified as significant offences against women.
The legal definition of rape is when a male uses his penis to intentionally penetrate a woman's vagina, anus, or mouth without her permission. This type of offence is classified as a heinous crime against a girl or woman. Furthermore, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures issued in 2020, an average of 85 rape cases were filed daily in India in 2019.
The act of bothering women in public places by making sexual comments about her or looking at her incessantly is something that most women nowadays have to deal with. According to surveys, around 40% of women have been subjected to eve teasing.
This is one of the most serious offences that a woman or even a young girl might confront in a variety of settings, including the office, on the way from home to work, the market, and so on. It may be characterized as an unwelcome contact, statement, disparaging comments, or obstruction of the other's movements that can generate dread in women. According to a poll conducted by the National Commission of Women in India in 2020, there were 376 reports of sexual harassment, with more incidents likely going unreported, resulting in women's suffering.
As technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, the incidence of cyber-crimes has risen steadily. Many additional crimes, such as sexting, cyber defamation, bullying, and online rape threats, have instilled terror in the minds of women in this setting of cybercrime. Almost 700 cases of cyber-crime have been reported in the year 2020, says the National Commission of Women in India.
The Indian legislation recognizing the offences under the laws in the country
To combat violence against women in the country, the government has enacted a number of laws around the country. There is a distinction made between the acts listed in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the particular legislation created to protect women from social evils such as dowry, domestic abuse, and sati practice, among others.
Offenses such as acid attack, under section 326(A); rape, under section 375; sexual harassment, under section 354(A), and others have been specified in the Indian Penal Code of 1860.
Furthermore, in order to combat the existing evils in society, various acts have been enacted to prevent the execution of such practices, such as the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act of 1987, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013, and many others, all of which impose strict penalties or punishments on those who are involved in committing these offences which hereby, curtails their engagement.
While we have explored India's perspective and response to the emerging issue of sexual violence against women, it is critical that some light be shed on the subject's awareness throughout the world. Due to the sheer volume of recorded crimes against women across the globe, the International Courts have clarified the duties of nations under the cover of International Human Rights Treaties, where the authorities ensure that gender-based violence against women is reduced to some level. Such crimes must also be considered with sanctions applied when the necessity arises, with the primary obligation to give protection and all types of support to victims of violence, whether financial, mental, or otherwise.
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," according to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations General Assembly approved and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite the fact that it is not a legally binding document, the countries have adopted the clause into their laws. The UDHR advocates for women's social, economic, cultural, civic, and political rights.
The UN Proclamation on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was issued in 1993, and it is a declaration that covers all forms of physical, sexual, and psychological violence against women in society and elsewhere. In addition, all UN members are asked to be vigilant against gender-based violence (GBV) and fight to implement preventative measures to curb these crimes from its very roots in their respective countries, making the world a safer place for them to live in, according to the proclamation.
The International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights (ICESR) was adopted in 1966, and it guarantees the enjoyment of social, economic, and cultural rights, such as the right to a sufficient standard of living, a reasonable standard of health, education, a fair and just working environment, and social security. As part of their commitment, states who are parties to the convention are required to protect women against abuse. However, there are a slew of other important treaties, regulations, and ideas in the works throughout the world to address this major problem.
In an era of new systems, technologies, and regulations, it is critical that we acknowledge our responsibility to make the world a better, safer, and more peaceful place to live. While the legislation and leaders are dedicated to doing their part in researching and experimenting with new solutions and preventive measures, I would like to propose a few of my own.
1) The first and most important thing is for individuals to stay updated about changes in society and regulations. People who are uninformed of the offences that can be recognized and reimbursed frequently refuse to report them, believing it to be a futile exercise or too minor to be reported, which merely empowers the offenders to perpetrate more of the same.
2) Developing a broad and open mindset would significantly lessen the likelihood of these crimes occurring in the near future. In a dynamic society, those who adhere to orthodox beliefs tend to cause issues for others who have a different viewpoint. Domestic violence, sexual harassment at work, and cyberbullying occur as a result of people's aversion to the idea of a woman developing into a self-sufficient, financially capable individual, as it undermines the patriarchal family system's foundation, in which women were regarded as subordinate citizens with men having sole economic responsibility and the status of being the head of the household.
3) The nation should implement effective and efficient legislation without requiring women to go through unnecessarily lengthy procedures that hinder them from actively exposing tyranny in society or in their homes. Women in metropolitan cities are more aware of their rights, capable of comprehending legal procedures, and do not hesitate to seek redress, but this is not the case in rural regions, where the number of literate women is far lower.
Almost all types of violence against women have been universally acknowledged during the previous two decades, leading to it being seen as a national and international issue that requires urgent attention. Around the world, archaic views about women encourage the practice of violence and harassment in ways that have never been opposed and disputed before, especially when it occurs between close relatives in the privacy of their homes.
Today, however, we have a number of international treaties and conventions that provide us with a number of rights and measures aimed at safeguarding women from heinous crimes. Despite all of these protections, however, development is seen to be sluggish all over the world. Different regional and worldwide committees, organizations, and institutions foster research on these problems, motivating them to promote peace and awareness in society. Women are revered as goddesses in India, yet humans have failed to build a safe and secure atmosphere for them, with crime rising at an alarming rate every day.
However, it might be argued that the existing laws are insufficient to address these crimes, and that new legislation is required. Making laws is also insufficient; knowledge must be propagated among the country's citizens, and its pure practice must be carried out in every part of the country and the world. Finally, women-centric offences are not just legal issues that may be addressed by legal means, but also social and psychological issues that can only be resolved through fundamental changes in society and men's attitudes toward women. In fact, despite the fact that numerous human rights instruments and impressive economic, social, and technological progress pay attention to women's issues, this assistance is insufficient and does not reach millions of women around the world who are routinely abused and victims of various offences and tragic crimes that must be recognized and vigorously addressed.
Hossain, M. and McAlpine, A., 2017. Gender-Based Violence Research Methodologies in Humanitarian Settings.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. "Rigveda". Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 Mar. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rigveda. Accessed 5 November 2021.
Unstats.un.org. 2021. Gender Statistics - Violence against Women. [online] Available at: <https://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/vaw/>
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. 2021. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. [online] Available at: <https://archive.unescwa.org/our-work/beijing-declaration-and-platform-action>
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Indian Penal code 1860, Section 375
Indian Penal Code 1860, Section 354(a)
Indian Penal Code 1860, Section 354(c)
India Penal Code 1860- Section 326(A) - Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid etc.
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