The latest National Family Health Survey
gives out ignominious figures on the extent of violence perpetrated against
women in India. In the 15-49 age group, 35.4 per cent of all women and 40 per
cent of married women have experienced physical or sexual violence. Thus, on an
average basis, one in three Indian women between the ages 15 and 49 have
experienced physical violence. One in ten has experienced sexual violence.

Among married women, nearly two in five
experience physical or sexual violence by their husband. Seven per cent of them
suffer serious injuries. Sexual violence is higher among the poor at 49 per
cent as compared to 18 per cent amongst the rich.

Further, Women and Child Development
Minister Krishna Tirath informed the Lok Sabha that both physical and sexual
forms of domestic violence against women are higher in rural areas as compared
to the urban areas. Quoting from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data,
she said that under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, a
total of 5,788 cases were registered in 2007, 5,643 in 2008, and 7,802 in 2009.

Domestic violence defined under Protection
of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, covers physical, sexual, verbal,
emotional, and economic abuse. The act provides for protection officers in
every state. Minister Tirath informed that there are more than 6,000 officers
in all states. This has hardly been a deterrent, though, when viewed against the
fact that only two per cent of abused women ever go to the police for help.

A recent study carried out by UN Women – a newly
created UN body – emphasizes that ‘discriminatory attitudes among the police
and judges mean that women are often reluctant to report crimes.’ The UN body,
which examined plights of women across countries in the report ‘Progress of the
World’s Women’, deplored the three per cent representation of women in India’s
judicial system. ‘India significantly lags behind the rest of the world, with
women making up just three per cent of judges. Women judges are
under-represented in most of the courts in the country,’ the global report underlined.

UN Women assistant secretary general and
deputy executive director Lakshmi Puri had said at the launch of the report: ‘India
is a vibrant democracy with a strong civil society. It has the potential and
the opportunity to use laws to improve the lives of millions of women across
the country.’

Statewise, Bihar is the worst offender at
59 per cent, followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (46 per cent) and then
Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Assam (more than 40 per cent).

takes stock of state of trafficking

A total of 3,991, 3,029, and 2,848 cases
were reported in the country in 2007, 2008, and 2009, respectively, under
various crime heads relating to human trafficking such as Procuration of Minor
Girls, Importation of Girls, Selling of Girls for Prostitution, and Immoral
Traffic (Prevention) Act. In response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of
Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath informed that the government is
taking measures to combat trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956,
supplemented by the Indian Penal Code, prohibits trafficking in human beings,
including children, and lays down penalties for it. The minister cited the
National Crime Records Bureau to inform that a total of 236 cases were reported
and 616 persons arrested under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act in Assam
during the 10-year period from 2000 to 2009.

A comprehensive advisory on preventing and
combating human trafficking in India was issued in September 2009 by the
Government of India to all states/union territories. Further, the women and
child development ministry has been implementing the Ujjawala scheme under
which financial assistance is being provided for prevention of trafficking and
for rescue, rehabilitation, and re-integration of victims of trafficking for
commercial sexual exploitation. Under the scheme, 21 projects have been
sanctioned in the north-eastern states of Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, and
Nagaland. Of these, 19 projects are, inter alia, being provided financial
assistance for prevention of trafficking, which includes holding sensitization
and awareness-generation workshops and preparing awareness-generation material.
Moreover, 76 rehabilitation homes, which can accommodate up to 3,800
beneficiaries, have been sanctioned under the Ujjawala scheme.