IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th December, 2022 Social Issues

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In News

  • Recently, the British government announced that it will soon criminalize public sexual harassment.
    • The bill would introduce strict penalties for those who purposefully harass someone in public because of the gender of the victim.



  • The incident of Public sexual harassment is increasing across the world. While it may impact men and boys, it mainly affects women.
    • In 2016, a study found that 75% of women living in London, 79% of women living in Indian cities, 86% in Thailand, and 89% in Brazil have been subjected to harassment or violence in public.
  • In most countries, laws are inadequate to deal with public sexual harassment.
    • Also, in most countries, gaps in the legal frameworks and negative attitudes towards the issue make it difficult for women to report and get redressals for such crimes.
  • Britain’s proposal to criminalize “street harassment”, with the maximum sentence increasing from six months to two years.” Some of the offences that will henceforth be criminalised are:
    • Deliberately walking closely behind someone as they walk home at night.
    • Making obscene or aggressive comments towards a person.
    • Making obscene or offensive gestures towards a person.
    • Obstructing a person’s path.
    • Driving or riding a vehicle slowly near a person making a journey.
  • Several other European countries, including Belgium, France, and Portugal, have already criminalised verbal or public sexual harassment with spot fines and jail time.

Sexual Violence against women and girls

  • The UN General Assembly defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
  • In general terms, it displays itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing:
    • Partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide).
    • Sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber-harassment).
    • Human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation).
    • Hemale genital mutilation.
    • Child marriage.


Challenges in addressing women's Safety in India

  • Lack of Reporting.
  • Slow Criminal Justice System.
  • Inadequate Implementation of the law.
  • Poor Gender Sensitization of law enforcement agencies like Police, Judiciary etc.
  • Various Social factors like level of education/illiteracy, Poverty, Social Customs and values, religious beliefs, and mindset of the Society.
  • Exclusion by Technology.
  • The lack of infrastructures Such as Safe Spaces for women, Safe transport Systems, and Proper toilets makes it a dangerous place for women and girls.
  • Hostile Environment of investigation for victims of sexual violence.
  • Social Conceptions of Shame and victim-blaming.
  • Much Sexual violence happens within a marriage, and marital rape is not a Crime.

Steps by the Government

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, to address the declining Child Sex Ratio.
  • Scheme for Adolescent Girls aims at girls in the age group 11-18, to empower and improve their social status through nutrition, life skills, home skills and vocational training.
  • Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra scheme, to promote community participation through the involvement of Student Volunteers for the empowerment of rural women.
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) to provide micro-credit to poor women for various livelihood support and income-generating activities at concessional terms.
  • Swadhar Greh provides relief and rehabilitation to destitute women and women in distress.
  • Ujjawala is a Comprehensive Scheme for the prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and repatriation of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Working Women Hostels for ensuring safe accommodation for women working away from their place of residence.
  • One-Stop Center and Women Helpline are being implemented to facilitate access to an integrated range of services including medical aid, police assistance, legal aid/ case management, psychosocial counselling and temporary support services to women affected by violence.
  • Panic Button on Mobile Phones, Emergency Response Support System Set up under Nirbhaya Fund.
  • Inclusion of Acid Attack as a disability.
  • The dowry Prohibition Act, of 1961, Penalizes Giving & taking.
  • SABLA Scheme, Providing life Skills and Supplementary nutrition to School girls - Working Women Hostel.
  • Sexual Harassment electronic-Box (SHe-Box).
  • The national database on Sexual offenders includes names, addresses, photographs and fingerprint details of those Convicted in Sexual assault Cases.


Steps to ensure women's Safety

  • Strengthening Criminal Justice machinery
  • Strict implementation and monitoring of the laws and Schemes and Strengthened enforcement.
  • Strengthening of Alternate Dispute resolution mechanisms like Lok Adalat.
  • Provide Self-defense Training
  • Gender Sensitization of the law enforcement agencies, especially Police and Judiciary.
  • Adopting zero tolerance Policy, Moral education through awareness and education.
  • Promoting Social and economic empowerment of women through Policies and Programmes.
  • Economic empowerment of women through Property rights, Create awareness about their Rights.
  • Ensuring gender-friendly Public Spaces
  • Equal access to Nutrition, Health, and education
  • Adopt a life cycle approach to the empowerment of girls and women.
  • Gender equality and violence Prevention Programmes can be introduced in Schools and Colleges.
  • Strictly regulate the Sale and distribution of acid.
  • Marital rape Should be made an offence irrespective of the age of the wife
  • Khap panchayat’s decisions, and all those involved in them, that led to honour killings or violent Crimes must be Criminally Punished.
  • Increase the representation of women in the Judiciary, both at higher and lower levels.
  • All Police Stations must have women and a Child Protection des
  • The number of women in Police Should be increased
  • Installation of CCTV, Mapping of dark Spots & Crime-prone areas