Violence against women due to gender inequality is a global problem that has made notable progress, but in recent years it has been a growing issue in India. Violence against women is not merely a social problem but also a health problem due to the serious health affects associated with it. Violence against women is defined as “physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family and in the general community, including battering, sexual abuse of children, dowry-related violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, forced prostitution and violence perpetrated or condoned by the state.” In a nutshell, it is a mouthful and there are many associated adverse effects such as injuries, reproductive health problems, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, mental health problems, and HIV/AIDS. In India specifically, an estimated 65% of men believe violence against women is okay and that the women often deserve it. There are many factors that influence this opinion. Marital rape is not a crime, therefore is it politically legal to rape your spouse. Meaning women, who are socially and culturally inferior to men, are at a higher risk for rape and abuse within a relationship. To further stir the pot, a woman may become the victim of an honor killing for being the victim of rape or seeking a divorce. So where does the violence end? How does one stop this patriarchal view that oppresses women and decreases their health and wellbeing? For one, the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has given recommendations to India to decrease violence against women by amending laws. However, these were not received well because the problem is much deeper that words on paper, “victim blaming, patriarchal gender stereotypes, institutional apathy and police inaction continue to foster impunity for violence against women,”In another article titled A Descriptive View of Abused Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in India, an emphasis was placed on the need for integrated services and public-health interventions to decrease violence and the spread of HIV among sex workers in India. However, these services must be culturally sensitive and need to go beyond traditional approaches (e.g. narrow HIV-prevention). For example, sex workers in India receive a notable amount of violence by the initiation of condom use. The research focused on FSWs who were involved with a non-paying male sexual partner within the last year. It was found that intimate partner violence was much higher than violence from clients. Overall, this pointed to female sex work as an avenue to independence for these women and a way to escape the violence associated with living with a man who is head of the household. Clearly, FSW is not the yellow brick road, but for these women it may be the best option to claim an ounce of autonomy, protect them from violence, and even amount to better health.
“Experts say India ignoring UN’s recommendations to curb violence against women.” IANS, August 5, 2014. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/india-ignoring-un-recommendations-40161.html.
Panchanadeswaran, Subadra, Sethulakshmi C. Johnson, Sudha Sivaram, A K. Srikrishnan, and Carla Zelaya. “A Descriptive Profile of Abused Female Sex Workers in India.” Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition 28, no. 3 (June 2010): 211-20. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/india-ignoring-un-recommendations-40161.html.
Wikipedia. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_health.
Wikipedia. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour_killing.
Wikipedia. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_against_women_in_India.