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Gender inequalities and biases pervade cultures worldwide, preventing women and girls from fully realizing their rights. Today gender equality and empowerment is a much felt subject by many governments, NGOs and corporates. All human development and human rights issues have gender dimensions. UN Women focuses on priority areas that are fundamental to women's equality, and that can unlock progress across the board. Women need strong laws, backed by implementation and services for protection and prevention. In India discrimination against women and girl child begins at conception, continues through education and culminates during and after marriage. A woman who has been subjugated to this environment succumbs to it and in turn infuses the female progeny with the same helpless attitude. In this article, we have elucidated some good practices for women and other functionaries to help combat violence against women and children.
Key words: NGOs. Women survivors, femicide, Honor killings, human rights
"A safe city is one that promotes the elimination of gender-based violence, while at the same
time promoting equal opportunities for men and women in all the spheres of social, economic,cultural and political life (access to employment, education, political participation, resourcesand leisure, etc.)." Prof KiranWalia, Minister of Health and family welfare women and child development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, 2011.
Globally, gender inequality, violence and discrimination against women and girls does violate human rights and severely compromises the mental and physical happiness of the young and their parents. Harmful practices including femicide, gender-based violence, and early marriage, damagesthe girl's physical being and self-worth by reinforcing gender-based marginalization and inequality. Gender inequalities and biases pervade cultures worldwide, preventing women and girls from fully realizing their rights. Today gender equality and empowerment is a much felt subject by many governments, NGOs and corporates.
Discrimination against women and girls often begins at conception, especially in parts of India and South Asia. In parts of India and South Asia, there is a strong preference for having sons. Girls can be perceived as a financial burden for the family due to small income contributions and costly dowry demands.In India, pre-natal sex selection and infanticide accounted for the pre-natal termination and death of half a million girls per year over the last 20 years.In the Republic of Korea, 30 percent of pregnancies identified as female fetuses were terminated. Contrastingly, over 90 percent of pregnancies identified as male fetuses resulted in normal birth.According to China's 2000 census, the ratio of newborn girls to boys was 100:119. The biological standard is 100:103.
The rate of femicide (murder of women and girls) has significantly escalated over the last few years.Inadequate record-keeping about domestic violence and the victim's relationship to the murderer results in a problem of underreporting of gender-based deaths."Dowry deaths" are responsible for the murder of thousands of women every year, especially in South Asia.If a bride cannot meet the financial demand of her dowry, she is often subject to torture, harassment and death by the groom's family.UNFPA estimates that 5,000 women worldwide are burnt to death in murders disguised as 'kitchen accidents' each year because their dowry was considered insufficient.In India and Pakistan, thousands of women are victims of dowry deaths."Honor killings" continue to take place in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf Countries. Honor killings occur when women are put to death for an act that is perceived as bringing shame to their families; this can mean killing as punishment for adultery or even for being the victim of rape.
Physical and psychological abuse of women and girls is a serious concern.
In high schools and colleges in India. Commonly termed ragging and throwing of acid if the girl does not accept the boy's cupid's arrow is another form of harassment which requires serious action from the crime department.
Child marriage continues to put young girls at great risk for too-early pregnancy and other sexual and reproductive health issues.In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, more than 30 percent of young women between 15 and 19 are married.In Nepal, 40 percent of girls are married by age 15.Worldwide, approximately 14 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year.
In India economically weaker section women and girls engaged in domestic jobs are also a target for violence and discrimination.
According to OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) in the early 1990's, the elimination of violence against women became a focus of United Nations' activities and the obligation of States to protect against such human rights abuses and to respond when they occur was established. General Recommendation 19 to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1992, makes explicit that VAW (violence against women) is a form of discriminaÂtion that impedes women's realization of full equality. The 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women articulates a woman's right to be free from violence.Bringing Security Home: Combating Violence Against Women in the OSCE Region is a compilation of good practices by OSCE.
Women's rights as human rights: A critical strategy for all advocacy work is to clearly demonstrate that violence against women is linked to other human rights violations and therefore States have commitments to exercise due diligence. An important related principle behind all good practices is that they address the root causes of violence against women,such as structural inequalities between men and women, issues of power and control and gender discrimination.
Women themselves at the center: Essential characteristics of all good practices is that they empower women, economically, politically or in other ways, to make changes in their lives and in society. Women survivors, particularly service users, should be participants in program design, implementation and evaluation. Effective interventions are those that are based on understanding the needs articulated by women themselves and not on behalf of women.
Men are responsible and also engaged: A guiding principle of practices addressing violence against women is that they target men. Programs that address men range from those that acknowledge men's responsibility as perpetrators of violence and establish appropriate prosecution and treatment measures, to others that engage non-violent men as positive role models, as activists in preventing violence against women and as advocates for gender equality in all spheres.
Political commitment and leadership: Good practices are those that are based on and supported by a clear political will from national authorities. Leaders at all levels, in political office, representing religious authorities, from the local community and even recognized sports figures or celebrities, can influence how violence against women is perceived and can play a role in changing societal tolerance for this problem.
Data Collection: All effective interventions are underpinned by accurate empirical data about the scope of violence against women, its causes and its consequences for individual women survivors but also for family members and society at large.Collecting accurate data about the prevalence or scope of a particular form of violence against women, its causes and its consequences is the starting point for developing accurate and targeted interventions and should not be viewed as an end in itself. Indeed, States have been urged to develop surveys on the nature of violence against women38 and are increasingly encouraged to ensure that their policies are informed by a stronger knowledge base. Conducting research itself can be a good practice when used firstly, to fully understand the problem of violence against women at the level at which the work will be done - to create a targeted strategy and also to establish a baseline against which progress can be measured; and later, in the form of program evaluation in order to study successes, to gather lessons learned and to improve future activities.
Identifying Good Practices and Approaches
Coordination, co-operation and partnerships: A multi-fanged approach that coordinates and integrates a wide range of actors is a principle that guides any work on improving overall response to violence against women. The specific actors or stakeholders involved may vary depending on the type of VAW addressed, but the strategy is the same - to work with a broad range of professionals and services from the national to the community and grass-roots level and to forge partnerÂships across sectors.
Sharing of knowledge, skill building and training: The use of knowledge-exchange and educational programs is a tactic, rather than a strategy. As a corollary, training for service providers, law enforcement, the legal and health sectors, policy makers and any other key stakeholders should be integrated into routine staff development and be informed by agreed-upon standards and guidelines.
Monitoring and evaluation: Any strategy, approach or project should include in its design a plan to monitor and evaluate to show the progress and impact achieved.Monitoring and trackingthe implementation of laws, the accessibility and responsiveness of services for victims and changes in societal attitudes towards violence against women are just some examples of a process that aids in understanding the dimension of the problem. Monitoring and tracking implicate some of the good practices already described above, such as using standard indicators, undertaking regular data-collection and involving women in analyzing their concrete needs.
Monitoring the functionaries:
There are a number of good examples of both governments and NGO-led monitoring programs to improve the response to violence against women. The government must ensure that measures to prevent and respond to interpersonal and domestic violence should be integrated into the municipal welfare strategy. Specifically, municipalities should be urged to adopt "a cross-sectoraland multiprofessional approach. The monitoring component of this ministerial initiative is an important inducement to municipal governments to take responsibility for developing prevention programs and coordinated services.
Monitoring the Legal System:
Regular monitoring of the implementation of laws and of criminal justice profesÂsionals' action generally is an important tool for ensuring that the legal system functions properly to ensure consistent and fair prosecution of perpetrators and full protection for victims.
Monitoring the Media:
Monitoring how the media responds to and addresses violence against women can provide important information on the kinds of messages that society is regularly receiving about this issue and can provide useful insights into areas for potential sensitization and training for media professionals. While journalists choose to report on the most extreme cases, they generally do not provide comments by experts or information about where domestic violence victims can find assistance.
Prevention Practices would include mass community campaigns to create awareness on issues of violence against women, large network of easily-accessible counselling and case registration centers spread throughout communities, identification and training of potential activists and leaders to work on the issue, motivation and support of trained community women to work in their own locality, development of trainers from within communities, involvement of community activists in small scale research and data collection.
Additionally, I would like to suggest the importance of using technology for binding together all the instruments in the war against violence towards women. Using this also as a capacity building strategy as participants gain qualitative research tools, if the data is captured retrieved and analysed at levels of incidence, time and area of occurrence, economic strata and resolution strategies, it will help in prevention of further similar cases. Also, help centres or case registration centres should be easily within reach for emergency, they should be devoid of corruption and maintain integrity and provided with technical customer support front office equipments.