Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 13: India has witnessed a surge in rape cases for thirteen years from 2001 when the crime more than doubled. And the number of cases of cruelty against married women has risen nearly 2.5 times, according to the long-awaited report on the ‘Status of Women in India’, released at the International Conference on Gender Equality at Kovalam.
While the rape cases registered between 2001 and ’14 rose from 16,075 to 36,735, cases of cruelty against married woman jumped from 49,170 to 1,22,877
“If you look at it, ‘home’ is the first sanctuary of violence against women in the form of incest and early marriage,” pointed out Smt Pam Rajput, Chairperson of a High-Level Committee (HLC) on the Status of Women in India.
Quoting the findings of the top body on the inaugural day of the three-day conclave, Smt Rajput said this HLC report was an attempt to recommend policy interventions based on contemporary assessment of women’s economic, legal, political, education, health and socio-cultural needs.
The report notes that, globally, India ranks second-last (141 out of 142 countries) in health. As an antidote, the panel proposes that the public health spending should be increased to 4.5%.
It was 40 years ago, on the eve of the foremost UN world conference of women, that the first report on the Status of women in India was submitted.
The other speakers at the session were Smt Aparna Mehrotra, Senior Advisor on Coordination and Focal Point for Women in the UN System; Smt Bindu Ananth, Chairperson, Institute for Financial Management and research and Smt Mridul Eapen of Centre for Development Studies here, besides Shri Ravi Verma, Regional Director for the International Centre for Research on Women.
Smt Rajput noted that India has one of the worst gender gaps in the world workforce participation with only 25% (15% in urban areas and the rest in rural areas). “This can be revised only by integrating macroeconomic policy with social policy and examining the situation of underpaid women working in public services as voluntary or social workers,” she noted in her presentation.
“Despite the economic growth and the increase in the level of education, women find it very difficult to make free choices,” added the speaker, who recalled that it was in Thiruvananthapuram while attending a conference of the National Federation of Indian Women in 1980 that she chanced upon a booklet that gave comprehensive statistics on women, inspiring her to dive headfirst into women’s studies.
The committee believes that gender architecture needs to be revisited and that there should be separate budgets for women and children. It also wants the thrust of the ministry on policy and planning, also noting an urgent need to localise sustainable development goals.
Other major issues the committee addressed during the session include declining child sex ratio, malnutrition, violence against women and girls, economic disempowerment of women and girls and feminisation of poverty.
The presentation concluded with an anecdote about how three weeks after the submission of the first draft of the HLC report on June 1 this year, the minister organised a meeting with 29 ministries. This in turn resulted in the formation of a specialized committee to prepare an action-plan based on the lamentations of this report.
The session felicitated Shri Rajput in recognition of her efforts in bringing to the limelight issues and resolutions that would empower women and help the country in attaining gender equality
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