Girls and women do not need protectionist approach to their safety either at home or by the State. They need to be able to exercise their human rights as human beings without discrimination. Preventing girls and women from moving out of their homes or countries will not stop the perpetrators from committing crimes against them. Boys and men should now start reviewing what masculinity means for them. Violence against Girls and Women (VAGW) are violations of human rights. However, such violence based on gender and vulnerability of people is happening unabated in different human civilisations.
As the civilisation progresses, new challenges have been faced by communities. One challenge seems to continue throughout centuries and that is VAGW. The feminist movement has been working globally to move towards ending this. Laws favourable to protect the victims and survivors and punish the perpetrators have been promulgated all over the world. There are no signs of VAGW ending. However, due to these efforts there have been several cases all over the world where girls, women and civil societies have filed cases against the perpetrators. Some accused have been punished but many still go free. How can we move towards punishing all perpetrators and ending all VAGW?
As per the statistics given by WOREC, an organisation working for women’s human rights, in the fiscal year BS 2077/78 there were 14 thousand 2 hundred and 32 reports of VAGW registered with the Nepal Police. The majority of these cases were related to domestic violence. In fiscal year BS 2078/79 there are a total of 21,451 cases of VAGW registered with Nepal Police. According to WORECs data in fiscal year BS 2077/78 1, 772 cases of VAGW were registered with them which increased by 41 cases and totalled to 1, 813 in BS 2078/79.
Since the last 31 years a 16 days campaign against VAGW is being launched all over the world from 25th November, which is observed as the International Day Against Violence Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) till 10th December which is observed as the International Human Rights Day. This campaign is observed by the UN, other International and National Organisation, and Governments who are members of the UN. It was commenced in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute. Since then, this campaign has created awareness against VAGW and has increased commitments to end VAGW. However, data shows that the VAGW cases are not decreasing.
According to UN Women, globally an estimated 736 million women, which is almost one in three, have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life. This accounts for 30 per cent of women aged 15 and older. Around 16 per cent of young women aged 15-24 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or husband, states a 12-month-long research conducted by the WHO. The UN Women states that globally violence against women disproportionately affects low-and lower-middle-income countries and regions. Around 37 per cent of women aged 15-49 living in countries classified by the Sustainable Development Goals as “Least Developed” have been subject to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lives.
Of 81,000 women and girls killed in 2020 across the world, around 47,000 which is 58 per cent died at the hands of an intimate partner or a family member which equals to a woman or girl being killed every 11 minutes in their home. There are several similar data which clearly shows that the sheer existence for women and girls in today’s world is very dangerous and discriminatory. No matter how much awareness is created or laws, rules and regulations are formulated, the psyche of attacking the “most vulnerable” seems to be continuing. It is also clear that the maximum violence and unsafe place for girls and women are their homes and states. Within homes girls and women are attacked by partners, husbands, and family members. The state often imposes ridiculous sanctions based on religion or “protectionist” approach.
The imposition of clothing on women and killing them if they do not abide to wearing what is prescribed, or forcing women to marrying whom they are instructed to marry based on cast, class, religious or wealth status still exists. Although honour killings and examples of killings based on not adorning prescribed clothing, including hijab, has been highlighted by global media, it cannot be stopped! Governments, like in Nepal, are still making rules to stop girls and women from getting a passport or travelling to other countries without “permission” from their fathers and husbands are still being formulated and practised. These are sets of patriarchal and feudal values which somehow still seem to be ingrained into the value system globally.
Global agenda like the ongoing 16-day campaign is succeeding in creating awareness and commitments. Now the global population, especially boys and men, must step in to take up the responsibility of making homes, societies and nations safe place for girls and women. Commitment in papers by formulating rules and regulations are not enough. Changing of mindset is required. There is a cliche that educating one girl is educating the entire household. Now a campaign slogan of educating every boy on ending VAGW needs to be launched so that the efforts taken so far can finally bear fruit.
(Namrata Sharma is a senior and women rights advocate email@example.com Twitter handle: @NamrataSharmaP)