You are on page 1of 4

WOMENS HARASSMENT IN INDIA INTRODUCTION India being in the news in December, 2012 with the gang rape of a 23-year-old

medical student in Delhi and the demand of the death penalty for offenders of the crime, as well as the culture and attitudes of women as second class citizens (BBC News, 2012). 1Stirs up the question as to what the reason for this outrage could be, and if this story is common in areas/places with such mindsets as to women being inferior to men and can be treated as pleased. It is confounding as to the sense of detest and disgust as to which anyone would have when being told the story, and more infuriating is it that little or nothing is being done as to mitigate this act or bring substantial justice to its perpetrators. It shows the depth of the perversion of the mind towards women and their worth. One would expect that the nature and depth of this issue should instigate a drastic reaction by the government and the judiciary, but it goes to show how culturally imbed the mindset or outlook to harassment towards women lie. The practice of sexual harassment is centuries old-at least, if we define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual relations imposed on a woman. From sexual coercion as an entrenched feature of chattel slavery endured by African slaves without protection of law, to surviving accounts of women employed in manufacturing and clerical positions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also point to a variety of contexts in which men imposed sexual relations-ranging from assaults to all manner of unwanted physical or verbal advances-on women who worked for them to advances on the streets, schools, and homes (Reva B. Siegel 2012) .2 Yet too often women are blamed for the sexual predicament on them as them being responsible for their own downfall, with them having to prove that the relations were nonconsensual; they had to show that it was coerced by force and against her will with utmost resistance. Most times, this isnt the case, as it has been reported by the National Crimes Record Bureau that some 200, 000 incidents of female sexual harassment were reported in 2008 with about 400 of them in Delhi alone. With more than a dozen women having been known to commit suicide in Bangladesh after having been subjected to eve teasing, with these harassments carried out by individuals associated with powerful underground gangs better known as mafia in
1 2

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india 29 Dec. 2012 Seigel, Reva B. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2013

South Asia, met with little resistance by members of the community. Instigating fear amongst the local people along with the lax behavior of law enforcement agencies also playing an indirect role in that it sets the precedent that people who commit crimes will most likely not be held accountable for their actions, simply because culture does not permit such discussions, and families being targets and not others due to the balance of social, economic and political power not being in their favor. And considerable anxiety is suffered by the relatives of the females being molested due to the social stigma associated with the harassment as it opens the family up for public ridicule. And the psychological pressure suffered by the victim and the family members due to loss of reputation has driven families to abandon their villages and communities to start over, while some take to self-defense groups to learn how to protect themselves from physical assault (Mashal Usman 2010).3 Background on Africa In Tanzania, after a female student at the University of Dar es Salaam committed suicide because of sexual harassment, it has been found that socioeconomic and cultural norms and values have contributed to the problem of sexual harassment of women (Joyce Shaidi 1991).4 In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school. With South Africa ranking first for rapes per capita for the period 1998-2000, where women are raped every 36 seconds, and 25% of a sample of 1, 738 South African men admitting to raping more than one women, and an estimation 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and only 1 in 9 rapes are reported. With several different forms of sexual violence, including, but not limited to: rape or sexual assault, child sexual assault and incest, and sexual harassment (Wikipedia 2012).5 In Nigeria, the case of a young university undergraduate being raped by five male students of the same university with the video going viral on mobile phones, one would have thought that immediate action would be taken against the perpetrators. But the University officials were quick to disassociate themselves from the case, as well as the police maintaining that with no victim, there could be no investigation, and the case was closed.

3 4

Mashal Usman (2010). Female harassment in South Asia Joyce Shaidi (1991). Sexual Harassment in the Formal Sector: the Case of Tanzania. OSSREA Publications 5 Wikipedia (2012) Sexual violence in South Africa

BACKGROUND ON INDIA Currently, the United Nations and other organizations such as; Womens Human Rights net, Stop the Violence Against Women Campaign, Equality Now, are dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment of women worldwide, as well as non-governmental bodies such as the IndoGlobal Social Service Society in India which seek for women empowerment, advocating for gender equality, and human rights. Sexual harassment is increasingly viewed as one of the most egregious forms of violence against women, and is particularly a problem in the Indian society, where this is prevalent due to certain socioeconomic and cultural factors, causing such discriminations where women are considered second class citizens for the purpose of child bearing only. Understanding the term sexual harassment varies widely between countries and indeed individuals, and there is not yet a widely acknowledged international definition (Ubon Kompiote, 2002). 6 With certain worldwide organizations prohibiting the unjust treatment of women, such as Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the ratifying of its Articles by countries of which India is yet to ratify the Article 16 which has to do with compulsory marriage registration. Showing the passivity of the Central and State governments to put up implementation actions as to the various international decrees on women rights, and the inability of certain bills such as (the Communal Violence Bill) to specifically address offences such as crimes of sexual violence in accordance to international law, shows the depth culture plays in the issue of female sexual harassment in India (Voice of the Asia Pacific Human Rights Network, 2007).
7

For this research paper, we show how India is adopting policies on violence against women at this later time as being more influenced by international factors. Insight into patterns of governments response to violence against women over time, the nature of the violence issuetouching upon womens status as a group and the social value and meaning of womens bodies and rights. This is due to the attention which the issue has drawn over the past few years as to the neglect or lackadaisical attitude of the different governments as to the implementation of the

Kompiote Ubon (2002). Sexual Harassment in the workplace, a report from field research in Thailand-June India and CEDAW: Whos afraid of too much equality? (2007) Voice of the Asia Pacific Human Rights Network. 24 August. HRF/172/07
7

women rights laws by the United Nations, and different judicial processes and the role of Indias stakeholders. This paper would be line with the government social responsibility of a nation in observing the human rights of its citizens, especially women. OBJECTIVES OF STUDY Research for this paper revolves under the following objectives: 1. To search for knowledge based on personal experience, opinions, related experience, and attitudes towards sexual harassment in India. 2. To examine the factors which contribute to and allow for the persistence of sexual harassment practices. 3. To evaluate the role of the different stakeholders in sexual harassment in India and Internationally. 4. To study and evaluate what can be done to mitigate or prevent sexual harassment. 5. To examine the forms of implementing these recommendations and the impact of this study on corporate social responsibility.