Violence against women rises during pandemic . . .
According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Index 2020 report, Bangladesh ranks 50 globally, much higher than other countries in South Asia. The others rank below 100, with Pakistan trailing at the third-lowest ranking of 151. What ties these countries together irrespective of their rank is a rising rate of violence against women, particularly over the past year. Child marriage, dowry deaths, rape, acid-attacks, and human trafficking are among the violations committed by family members. According to WEF, the region will need at least another 71.5 years to close the gender gap. But if the region’s governments continue to turn a deaf ear to gender-based violence, that time-frame is likely to increase.
Family, rape, and marriage . . .
Over the past week, Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde allegedly asked an accused rapist if he would marry the rape survivor. More than 4,000 women rights activists called for the CJI’s resignation. On March 8, he claimed that his words were taken out of context, but this did little to clarify why marriage was even considered an option to resolve a case of rape. In India, family, honour, and societal norms work against rape survivors, who are the ones who are stigmatized, rather than their rapists. India’s 2020 National Crime Records Bureau statistics show that at least one case of rape is reported in the country every 16 minutes.
Normalizing sexual violence . . .
Gender-based violence has become commonplace in India, including honour killings and beheadings, gang rapes, and physical assaults. The trend of using power and political connections to shelter the accused has led to outrage in several high-profile cases. However, the regular reports of rape and violence, trivializing the sexual assault, victim-blaming, and the sluggish and broken justice system have normalized sexual violence in India to the point of numbness. Activists have called for the Indian government to do more for rape survivors by providing health, psychological, legal, and economic support. Law enforcement officers and medical practitioners also need to be trained to be sensitive and supportive of survivors of gender-based violence. Furthermore, education and awareness about sex and consent, relationships, and gender equity need to be a primary agenda for the government.