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
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
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
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
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
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