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Day 42 – Q 3.Why is sexual violence against women a recurring and pervasive societal reality in India? Analyse.

3. Why is sexual violence against women a recurring and pervasive societal reality in India? Analyse. 

भारत में महिलाओं के खिलाफ यौन हिंसा एक आवर्ती और व्यापक सामाजिक वास्तविकता क्यों है? विश्लेषण करें।


India has been named the most dangerous country in the world for women in a recent Thomson Reuters Foundation survey which exposes a vicious cultural agreement that women have little value in our society in spite of being modern, liberal and a functioning democracy based on a constitution which guarantees equality for all.


  • Violence against women has taken the form of a global epidemic which has taken its toll on the physical, psychological, sexual and economic life of the female. It impacts the cultural forces and the implementation of laws that impact how women are actually treated in a culture, despite formal law, education, employment or income.
  • India is in denial of the fact that a majority of its women do not feel safe alone on the streets, at work, in markets, or at home, even though they have learned how to cope with this existential anxiety. 
  • National Crime Records Bureau statistics for 2012 to 2016 show that approximately 40% of female reported rape victims were minors and 95% knew the rapist. The rapists belonged to the “circle of trust” of extended family and friends. This clearly showcases the recurring and pervasive social reality of sexual violence against women.
  • Further, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) suggests that 30 percent of women in India in the age group of 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. The report further reveals that 6 percent women in the same age group have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. About 31 percent of married women have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by their spouses.
  • The deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes of most of the members of society is one of the factors for recurring and pervasive social reality of sexual violence against women.
  • Not engaging with “men and boys” as change agents but acknowledging the expectations linked to masculinity which further perpetuates the cycle of masculine sexual violence and repression of women.
  • Not recognizing sexual and reproductive health and rights of women by not promoting and protecting women’s right to have control and decide freely over matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, family-planning choices and access to comprehensive sexuality education which perpetuates sexual violence against them.
  • Not reclaiming the spaces for women to increase their presence in visibility through political and economic participation and not diversifying their engagement in nontraditional sectors which relegates them to limited spaces.
  • Another aspect is the cost incurred due to sexual violence, be it direct or indirect. The direct costs for violence against women include lives lost as well as cost of services provided such as expenditures on medical treatment and psychological counseling, legal protection, providing housing and shelters for women, and social services. Indirect costs include days of work lost leading to reduced productivity and its impact on overall economy.
  • India has been slow in its pace for action against violence on women, but the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old New Delhi girl on December 2012, aroused the Indians from their deep slumber on this issue. This incident led to a sudden outpouring of anger and frustration about the situation that allowed such attacks to take place.
  • The irony is that without wide media coverage there is no possibility of cultural shift, and with media coverage, the illusion of women’s safety breaks and ratings plunge. India – and the rest of the world – would do well to make women’s safety and freedom central goals of democracy and development, and learn about the science of cultural change.
  • As a result of Nirbhaya effect, the parliament passed the criminal law (amendment) Act 2013, which provides for amendment of the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and the code of criminal procedure.
  • It also enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention, and Redressal) Act 2013, 16 years after the Supreme Court directed the Indian Government to provide legal framework to deal with the issue of sexual harassment. Five exclusive fast track courts were set up to deal with cases of sexual violence against women.


While government’s efforts to end the caste system and overturn women’s disempowerment by advocating for policies focused on gender equality, fight against sexual violence, the government’s failure to enforce these policies due to corruption has left patriarchy and the caste system intact which helps in propagation of sexual violence against women and makes India stay away from its civilizational ideal of women being respected and honoured with empowerment.

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