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Sexual Violence in India – Education Is the Only Solution

Thu, Jan 10, 2013

Featured, Women and Children

BaronessGoudieSpeaking Nov 2011

A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST

The world was shocked following the tragic gang rape and murder of a 23 year old women in Delhi last month. This horrific attack has put the spotlight on India’s ongoing struggle to embed equality into society and ensure women are treated with respect.

The number of reported rapes in India has increased drastically from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011, and this is only the official numbers. Cultural stigma means many attacks are not reported to authorities due to fear of bringing shame on the victim’s family. Many Indians still believe that women who have been raped have brought the attack on themselves and are the ones to blame, not the attacker. This sort of ignorance is what is at the centre of the growing epidemic of sexual violence against women in India.

The attitude to girls and women within India is one of contradictions. This is a country that is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and whilst it has had a female prime minister in Indira Gandhi, its citizens have aborted a reported 50,000 female foetuses every month, provoked by a traditional preference for sons and supported by medical staff who are bribed into revealing the sex of a child. A country with such global economic influence cannot continue to let such atrocities occur and must make change.

The root of the problem is the lack of education on social equality at a local level. Until local community leaders are engaged and women’s rights are really taught and recognised within communities, no real change will occur. There have been calls in India’s Parliament for reform and the authorities have promised tougher laws against sexual violence, however cultural problems are harder to change and it is only education that will trigger true transformation.

Many people have suggested that this type of sexual violence is a class issue, and it is true that within rural and lower class communities in India women’s rights are at their worst, however there is also a lot of evidence that women are not considered equal in middle and upper-classes. It is not a class issue, but an education issue throughout Indian society.

Time needs to be spent addressing the cultural issue causing the problem. Teaching respect and equality is the first step in solving such a long standing issue. It is now important to call on the Indian government and local authorities to take real action and quickly. The ongoing protests throughout India following this tragic murder illustrate that there is a demand for justice and change, and this can only be achieved through education to all generations. Teaching men and boys about women’s rights and equality is the only way to trigger this much needed change.

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Women, Peace and Security – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Women, Peace and Security 

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the first of its kind to specifically address the unique impact of conflict on women, and women’s important contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Passed in 2000, it marked a watershed moment when the international community formally recognized the integral role of women and gender to peace and security. UNSCR 1325 has remained an essential tool for encouraging governments to fulfill their obligations to ensure women are included as agents for peace and security in all processes, and its framework has inspired further action by the UN and civil societies and governments around the world to mainstream gender into their work on conflict resolution.

 

Following UNSCR 1325, subsequent Security Council Resolutions further defined the importance of women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding. Resolutions 1820, passed in 2008, and 1888, passed in 2009,  recognize sexual violence as an issue of international peace and security and reiterate the need for a comprehensive response to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Resolution 1960 created specific steps needed for the prevention of sexual violence, and Resolution 2106 in 2013 looked specifically at accountability for crimes of sexual violence. The most recent resolution on women, peace and security, UNSCR 2122, aims to strengthen measures to improve the participation of women in all phases of conflict resolution and prevention.

 

UNSCR 1325 and successive Resolutions are an important show of international support that ensure women, peace and security are on the agenda for international organizations and governments across the globe, but there are many steps between the passage of such resolutions and their full implementation on the ground.  One tool that helps bridge this gap are National Action Plans(NAPs), written plans that specify how a country will mainstream gender, and the principles of 1325 into its defense, development and diplomatic activities. Over 36 countries in the world have drafted NAPs, and that number is growing every year.

 

In addition to government- and UN-level documents and programs, it is important to consider the work women do in more informal, Track II diplomatic and peace negotiations. Around the world, women are active as civil society leaders, and in many cases, such as Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, their grassroots work has played a major role in peace processes.

 

For more resources on women, peace and security, visit The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and SecurityPeaceWomenUSIP, and The Institute for Inclusive Security.

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