'Need for checking violence against Dalit women'



New Delhi: With demands for stricter punishment to those who commit violence against women growing louder, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Friday said he was delighted that the issue is finally receiving the kind of attention it needed and underlined the need to check crime against Dalit women.

"I am absolutely delighted that the issue of violence against women is receiving the kind of attention it needed. But I would have been more delighted if it was recognised that Dalit women have been undergoing violence over a long time, with hardly any protest and any organisation behind them," Sen, who launched the International Centre for Human Development here, said.

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Lord Meghnad Desai also expressed their concern over various issues related to women. "Over 60 per cent of women are still defecating in the open. Over 60 per cent of all global defecations are in India and today we have robust medical evidence to suggest a direct cause and link, not correlation, but cause and link between open defecation and malnutrition," Ramesh said.

He had earlier held the portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation and had brought the sanitation issues to the fore. He had also suggested that women should protest getting married into the houses which have no toilets. Speaking on the occasion, Desai suggested an index of safety of women.

"One of the things perhaps the Centre ought to do here is to really have a human development index only for women in India. If we can construct a index of women safety, then that would be a very good contribution to human development index," he said.

He also said a change in mindset is required in the Indian society. Referring to Indian epics he said there are instances of disrespect towards women in them. "The desecration of Surpanakha by Ram and Lakshman is a shocking incident. If it happens today there will be a fast court action for desecrating a women. That is very shocking," he said.

Sen also raised the issues of open defecation, child malnutrition and spending in the health sector.

"Child undernourishment in India is more than China. 43.5 per cent of children are undernourished. Under five mortality in India is 63... The spending in the health sector is only one per cent of the GDP and nearly half the population is defecating in the open," he said.

Comparing the human development index of India, China and Bangladesh, he said Bangladesh has been able to stop open defecation to a large extent and China has surged ahead in the health sector besides containing child mortality.

PTI