Gender-based violence a persistent challenge in India: report

HIV awareness level very low and associated stigma very high

Updated - May 19, 2016 07:42 am IST

Published - March 10, 2014 11:24 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A theatre performance in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to create awareness aboutgender equality and women's rights. File Photo: G. Moorthy

A theatre performance in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to create awareness aboutgender equality and women's rights. File Photo: G. Moorthy

Women across India have unanimously cited gender-based violence as a widespread and persistent challenge, linking it directly to alcoholism and dowry, according to a new UN Women report “Hearts and Minds: Women of India Speak.”

Aware of their rights Some women, however, felt they were more aware of their rights and more were reporting violence to the police than before. Child marriage was cited as common as female foeticide, though at reduced levels than earlier due to legislation that has made sex-determination illegal, according to the report released here on Monday.

Violence against women in the work place was identified as another “blind spot,” especially in industries and areas where women work as informal labour without any rights, such as garment industry or as domestic help. Similarly, the report said that while there was greater awareness about HIV and AIDS in select quarters in rural India, the awareness level remains very low and associated stigma and discrimination is very high.

“Rural women are in a “high risk” category as the most common way they contract disease is unknowingly through their husbands. The stigma adversely impacts their health and nutrition, ability to earn a livelihood and their children’s lives, which women living with HIV and AIDS are most concerned about,” the report said.

Speaking on the occasion, Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka said: The report ensures that the voices of those who remain socially and economically marginalised are meaningfully reflected in India's policies and the emerging global Post-2015 development agenda. The Gender Equality Goal, developed by UN Women calls for increased participation if women in decision-making. In the context of the upcoming elections, this is a pertinent issue as despite the advances made through Panchayats, women account for only 10 per cent of seats in Parliament.”

The survey was conducted over a year in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan where women were spoken to individually and in groups.

In terms of women’s empowerment, most feel that there have been positive, even some transformative, changes in their lives over the past decade compared to previous generations.

However they raised many issues that remain unaddressed such as access to water and sanitation, housing, roads, electricity, lack of employment options and skills training.

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