‘Over 75% women victims of domestic violence’
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Last Updated: Thursday, September 15, 2011, 20:47
New Delhi: Laws against domestic violence across the globe have not fully succeeded with over 75 per cent women falling victims to physical or sexual violence, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Thursday said.

Delivering her inaugural address at a regional seminar of Asian Parliamentarians here on prevention of violence against the fair sex, the Speaker said it was distressing to note that in most instances, violence against women is perpetrated by close family members or partners.

"Despite two-third of countries in the world enacting laws against domestic violence, about 76 per cent of women have been victims of either physical or sexual violence or both at least once in their lifetime," she said citing recent studies.

In Asia, appalling forms of violence and discrimination have often been justified by tradition, which include dowry-related violence, so-called "honour killings", marital rape and marriages of minor girls, Kumar said.

Even today in 17 out of 41 countries of South East Asia and the Pacific, more than a quarter of the population believes that it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife, she said at the seminar on "Preventing and Responding to Violence against Women and Girls: From Legislation to Effective Enforcement" at the GMC Balayogi Auditorium in Parliament Library Building here.

Stressing on bringing about a change in the mindset of men who perpetrate violence against women, she called upon Parliamentarians to act as agents of change and usher in social transformation by raising these issues in their respective Parliaments and generate awareness in their constituencies.

She called for empowering women educationally and to strengthen institutional mechanisms to ensure decisive action and effective implementation of relevant laws to punish perpetrators of violence against the fair sex.

Stressing on the need for co-ordinated and continuous global efforts towards empowerment of women, the Lok Sabha Speaker reiterated India's commitment to eliminating violence against them.

Kumar pointed out that Asian region has always been in the forefront in ensuring equality in leadership and cited the examples of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Sonia Gandhi to make her point.

Observing that violence and discrimination against women are a stark reality in Asia, she said it is often justified by tradition.

Addressing the gathering, President of Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Theo-Ben Gurirab recalled that September 15 was the International Day of Democracy while encouraging Parliamentarians to work more strenuously to defend the interests of citizens.

The achievement of democracy presupposes a genuine partnership between men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society in which they work in equality and complementarily, he said.

"The challenges that all Parliamentarians and Government face is that we have not done enough, despite the existence of well-documented international instruments, to end violence against women. We must adopt laws that specifically tackle violence against women and must have the courage to enforce them," he said.

Gurirab also stressed upon the promotion of gender equality as one of the main endeavours of IPU and one of the pillars of the recent strategic plan for the next five years.

Lok Sabha Secretary-General T K Viswanathan, in his vote of thanks, commended the role of Meira Kumar as a champion of women?s rights and also applauded Theo-Ben Gurirab, under whose leadership, the IPU has made lot of efforts to mainstream gender into the activities of IPU.

The first session of the seminar commenced soon after the inauguration, with Kumari Selja, India's Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, in the Chair.

The Second Session on "International Legal Instruments and Model Framework on Legislation to Address Violence against Women and Girls" was chaired by Eva Abdulla, Member of the Maldives Parliament.

The Third Session on "Process and challenges in developing and achieving law reforms on all forms of violence against women" was chaired by Indian MP Sumitra Mahajan.

Meanwhile, an Iranian delegation of Parliamentarians also called on the Indian Speaker on the sidelines of the Seminar besides IPU President Theo-Ben Gurirab who also met the Lok Sabha Speaker.


First Published: Thursday, September 15, 2011, 20:47

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