According to the United Nations, violence can be defined as “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something”. Violence against women can be defined as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Intimate partner violence refers to behavior by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual, or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse, and controlling behaviors.
Sexual violence is “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, and other non-contact forms”. (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women)
Violence is particularly against women and is prevalent in human societies. This can be due to many reasons. Some of them are:
- Cultural Factors: Patriarchal and sexist views legitimize violence to ensure the dominance and superiority of men. Other cultural factors include gender stereotypes and prejudice, normative expectations of femininity and masculinity, the socialization of gender, an understanding of the family sphere as private and under male authority, and a general acceptance of violence as part of the public sphere (e.g. street sexual harassment of women), and/or as an acceptable means to solve conflict and assert oneself. Religious and historical factors play a role in defending violence against women. Sexuality is also tied to the concept of so-called family honor in many societies. Traditional norms in these societies allow the killing of women suspected of defiling the honor of the family by indulging in forbidden sex or marrying and divorcing without the consent of the family.
- Legal Factors: Being a victim of gender-based violence is perceived in many societies as shameful and weak, with many women still being considered guilty of attracting violence against themselves through their behavior. This partly accounts for enduring low levels of reporting and investigation. Until recently, the law in some countries still differentiated between the public and private spaces, which left women particularly vulnerable to domestic violence.
- Economic Factors: The lack of economic resources generally makes women, LGBT+ people particularly vulnerable to violence. It creates patterns of violence and poverty that become self-perpetuating, making it extremely difficult for the victims to extricate themselves. When unemployment and poverty affect men, this can also cause them to assert their masculinity through violent means. Women going to work to pay for their families often get abducted or kidnapped and are trapped in the vicious circle of rape and assault.
- Political Factors: The under-representation of women and LGBT+ people in power and politics means that they have fewer opportunities to shape the discussion and to affect changes in policy, or to adopt measures to combat gender-based violence and support equality. The topic of gender-based violence is in some cases deemed not to be important, with domestic violence also being given insufficient resources and attention. (https://www.coe.int/en/web/gender-matters/what-causes-gender-based-violence)
The situation of intimate partner and gender-based violence in India can be checked in: https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/1-in-3-women-in-india-is-likely-to-have-been-subjected-to-intimate-partner-violence/
Provisions in India: Section 354 of the IPC criminalizes any act by a person that assaults or uses criminal force against a woman with the intention or knowledge that it will outrage her modesty. Such an act is punishable with either simple or rigorous imprisonment of up to 2 years, or a fine, or both.
Sexual harassment is defined under S. 354 A of the IPC as a man committing any of the following acts:
(i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
(ii) a demand or request for sexual favors; or
(iii) showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
(iv) making sexually colored remarks,
This law covers a wide ambit of acts that constitute sexual harassment, including unwanted verbal or physical advances of any kind. This law is not limited by the location at which the sexual harassment takes place, unlike the law to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces which are explained in a later section. The punishment for (i), (ii), and (iii) as given above is rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to 3 years, or a fine, or both while the punishment for (iv) is either simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 1 year, or a fine, or both.
Section 354B of the IPC criminalizes assault or use of criminal force against a woman with the intention of disrobing her, i.e. with the intention of depriving her of her clothing or forcing her to be naked. Such an act is punishable with either simple or rigorous imprisonment of 3 to 7 years and a fine. Aiding such a crime also carries the same punishment.
Section 354C of the IPC criminalises the act of voyeurism. It defines it as a man watching or capturing the image of a woman engaged in a private act in circumstances where she would usually not expect to be observed by the perpetrator or by any other person on the orders of the perpetrator or the distribution of an image so captured by the perpetrator. The punishment for committing this offense is simple or rigorous imprisonment of 1 to 3 years and a fine. Repeated offenders are punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment of 3 to 7 years and a fine.
Section 354D of the IPC criminalizes the stalking of a woman by a man. It defines the Act to include the continuous following or contacting a woman by a man or attempts to contact a woman to build a personal relationship with that woman even when the woman has shown a clear lack of interest. It also includes acts of monitoring a woman’s electronic communication, i.e. communication over emails, social media, etc. First-time offenders are punished with either simple or rigorous imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine while repeated offenders are punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment of up to 5 years and a fine.
Section 370 of the IPC defines human trafficking as the action or practice of transporting people illegally or without their consent across areas mainly to be used in the labor or commercial sex industry. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 is the law regulating human trafficking in India.
There are many laws and legislations related to intimate and sexual violence in India. However, in practice, less than 20% of these cases receive justice in due time.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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