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NCW: Rise in complaints of crimes against women in 2021

Context:

The country saw a rise of 46 per cent in complaints of crimes against women in the first eight months of 2021 as against the corresponding period of 2020, according to the National Commission for Women (NCW).

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Women, Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the National Commission for Women (NCW)
  2. What the NCW said about increasing number of crimes against women?
  3. Violence against women in India
  4. Constitutional Safeguards and Legislations
  5. Way Forward: What can be done?

About the National Commission for Women (NCW)

  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) is the statutory body of the Government of India – Established under provisions of the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.
  • NCW is generally concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns.
  • The subjects of their campaigns have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labour.
  • They have also discussed police abuses against women.
  • The commission regularly publishes a monthly newsletter, Rashtra Mahila, in both Hindi and English.

What the NCW said about increasing number of crimes against women?

  • The NCW received almost 20,000 complaints of crimes against women from January to August 2021.
  • Of the 46 per cent rise in complaints of crimes against women in 2021 Half of these cases were from Uttar Pradesh.
  • The highest number of complaints were recorded under
  • The right to live with dignity clause (right to live with dignity clause takes into account the emotional abuse of women), followed by
  • Domestic violence and
  • Harassment of married women (or dowry harassment).
  • Among states and union territories, the highest number of complaints was received from Uttar Pradesh (more than 10,000), followed by Delhi, Haryana and Maharashtra.
  • NCW chief     said there has been a rise in the complaints because the commission has been regularly conducting awareness programs due to which the public is now more aware about its work.
  • The NCW has launched a round-the-clock helpline number to provide support services to women in need where they can also register a complaint. When complaints rise it is a good thing because it means more women have the courage to speak up and there are platforms in place now and they are aware of where to report.

Violence against women in India

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data show that 24% of women faced domestic violence in 2015-16 not seeing any reduction since 2005-06.
  • Compared to the survey results, the actual reports of domestic violence to the police are negligible at 58.8/ one lakh women.
  • The disparity between the crimes reported in a survey and registered with the police highlights how women are unlikely to seek help.
  • The more telling statistic from the NFHS data is perhaps that 52% of the surveyed women and 42% of the surveyed men think there is at least one valid reason for wife-beating.
  • This attitude highlights how ingrained and normalised the idea is such that an abused woman should not expect support from others.
  • The NFHS data also highlight how the proportion of women reporting violence is increasing among families with lower wealth.
  • The lockdown due to the pandemic is leading to a substantial negative income shock for everyone.
  • In our interviews with unorganised sector workers, we often heard that women suffered domestic violence coupled with the husband’s alcoholism.
  • The NFHS data also show a high correlation between alcohol intake and domestic violence. Keeping in mind that access to alcohol may be limited in these times, frustration could also lead to abuse.

Constitutional Safeguards and Legislations

  1. Fundamental Rights: It guarantees all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State on the basis of gender (Article 15(1)) and special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women (Article 15(3)).
  2. Directive Principles of State Policies (DPSP): It ensures equal pay for equal work (Article 39 (d)).
  3. Fundamental Duties: It ensures that practices derogatory to the dignity of women are prohibited under Article 51 (A).
  4. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005: It provides victims of domestic violence with a means for practical remedy through prosecution.
  5. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961: It prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry.
  6. The sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and redressal) Act, 2013: This legislative act seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work.

Way Forward: What can be done?

  • The most important thing that we can do is to acknowledge and accept that domestic violence happens and work to reduce the stigma attached to the victims of such violence.
  • Such support may prompt abused women to seek at least informal means to redress their issues.
  • The NCW has appealed to women to reach out to their nearest police stations or call the State Women’s Commission for support.
  • While this is the least that can be done, there are some other formal means by which we can extend help to women right now.
  • The provision of cash transfers and ration support are likely to sustain the family and also reduce stress in the household leading to lower violence against women.
  • Since the lockdown began, the amount of TV viewing, particularly of news, has increased. Coupled with a lack of other activity, this is an opportune time to improve messaging.
  • The NCW could increase its advertising expenditure on TV to relay messages requesting women to contact the police station for help.
  • The 181 helpline number set up for this reason should remain active, and women should be reminded of this number via TV ads.
  • The government could also send mass SMS messages as it did during the onset of the COVID-19 crisis as most women have access to at least a basic phone.
  • Studies show that women more than men tend to be affected adversely during epidemics. We need to take these advisories seriously to prevent further widening of the rift between men and women in our society.

-Source: Hindustan Times

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