Press release

Violence against women in India: Structural inequalities and social norms must be challenged, urges Christian Aid.

  • New report calls for the implementation of global legislation to address the scourge of violence against women and girls.
  • Economic growth has exacerbated societal inequalities in India, with women and girls experiencing increased family violence as a result of deprivation.
  • Report coincides with charity’s Christmas appeal on women in Afghanistan and India
Following high profile cases of violence against women in India, Christian Aid urges those in power not only to punish perpetrators of violence, but also to address the structural inequalities and norms that hinder the implementation of policies and laws that should keep women and girls safe from harm.

Today, India is waking up to the horrors of violence against women and girls, as people take to the streets in response to recent barbaric and violent acts. 
Yet, more needs to be done to address the patriarchal norms and structural inequalities that continue to keep women and girls trapped in a cycle of poverty, robbing them of their dignity.

In a new report, to coincide with the charity’s Christmas appeal, which focuses on Afghanistan and India, Christian Aid stresses that global gender inequality is exacerbated by the prevalence of all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG), including forced abortions, rape, female genital mutilation and femicide.

Despite global progress to address VAWG, in terms of laws and regulations, women and girls continue to fall victim to disparity and violence, leaving them behind in a world that is still plagued by structural inequalities and discrimination.
The international NGO calls for leaders in countries, including India, where UN-backed policies to address VAWG are not fully implemented, to give renewed emphasis to the implementation of the CEDAW (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) for women and girls.

In India, despite its economic progress and gains in terms of standards of living for many, millions of poor minority and excluded communities, inclduing Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims, remain trapped in poverty as a result of stark inequalities, such as gender, caste, ethnicity and religion.  Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to consequential violence – at home and on the streets.

The report, War on Women: The global toll of conflict and violence, states: “While India is waking up to the horrors of such acts of violence, there is less attention on the inequalities and discrimination that renders women and girls more vulnerable to violence. In rural areas especially, these discriminatory norms and practices mean violence remains very common. Although the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 includes special measures to promote access to justice for some of the most socially excluded groups, including women and girls affected by violence, many crimes still go unreported because survivors fear stigma and harassment by police and conviction rates for these crimes are low. Recent data suggests very high levels of violence against Dalit women persist, including sexual violence, and that conviction rates remain low.”

The report also explains: “We […] understand that people in poverty often face several intersecting inequalities based on their identities and that these experiences need to be better understood and appropriately addressed in all action to address GBV. We strive for a more inclusive world where identity – gender, ethnicity, caste, religion, class, sexual orientation, disability and age – is no longer a barrier to equal treatment. We know that we cannot stamp out poverty, improve the dignity of women or enable them to live peaceful lives free from violence without addressing such inequality.”
Click here to read the full report, War on Women: The global toll of conflict and violence.

Click here to download powerful photographs related to the report.