Following brutal gang-rape and murder of a female medical student in New Delhi last December, the EI South Asian Women’s Network (SWN) has issued a statement on violence against women in India.
The SWN strongly condemned this heinous act,demanded that anti-rape laws in India be improved, and called for stricter punishment for rapists. The network also stated that crimes of sexual violence against women cannot be viewed separately from the larger issue of India’s falling gender ratio in terms of the number of women per 1000 men.
Reporting gender-based crimes Therefore, the SWN calls on teacher organisations, along with women’s networks and organisations, to “engineer an unprecedented campaign which travels to each and every school in the country exhorting girls to come out and report gender-based crimes.
Education which dwells upon gender crimes in an uninhibited manner could play a crucial role in changing the mind-set,” according to the SWN statement.
The SWN urges all EI member organisations in India and South Asia to condemn and protest against this brutal and horrific act, and join the movement initiated by civil society to protect women from all kinds of violence against women (VAW), which have been rampant in different forms in most South Asian countries.
European Parliament urges India to fight VAW In mid-January, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on VAW in India. The document contains several references to caste discrimination and the situation of Dalit women, a group of people traditionally regarded as ‘untouchable’ in India.
The European Parliament expressed “deep concern about the widespread violence committed against Dalit women and girls in India, including sexual violence committed by men of dominant castes”.
The resolution also shows the Parliament’s concern regarding “the extraordinary high level of impunity” in cases of sexual violence against Dalit women, and calls on the Indian Government to “treat all cases of sexual violation towards all women equally and to investigate and prosecute them in an equal, fair, transparent and speedy manner”.
Dutch parliament joins the cause In the Netherlands, an almost two-thirds majority of the Dutch Parliament has urged the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation to support action against sexual violence against women in India, especially Dalit women.
The Dutch Parliament is also very concerned that the Indian government has put a large number of Indian and international organisations on the “suspect list” and imposed visa restrictions.
On 9 January, Dalit activist, Marimuthu Bharathan, officially received – in his absence – the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2012. Bharathan was not granted a passport by the Indian government to enable him to receive the award himself in the Netherlands.
In his acceptance speech, part of which was read out during the award ceremony, Bharathan said: ‘’Why should I speak about caste while addressing the issues of human rights? The Hindu caste system itself is a violation of human rights.’’
The Dutch Parliament also called on the Dutch government to examine the issuing of visas by India to Dutch citizens in view of the many visa problems currently.
To read the whole SWN statement on violence against women in India, please click here