Violence against women is extremely prominent in India. As the pandemic begins to subside and the country roars back to life, so too has the fear women in the country experience each day. In 2021, it’s estimated that crimes against female citizens rose by over 15%. What is behind this increase in violence? And what explains the government’s inaction on the safety of half its population?
Laws in India typically do not work in favor of victimized women. In fact, there is a law stating that rape vicitims names cannot be pulished in the media. Instead, the name Nirbhaya is used. The most infamous Nirbhaya case was the Delhi 2012 gang rape, but since then, the Indian media has been hesitant to raise awareness about violence against women. This doesn’t just contribute to a lack of prosecution for perpetrators of gender violence, it also guarantees the isolation of millions of Indian women in the face of violence. s.
India has a remarkably low divorce rate. This is because of cultural issues. Many women are scared to get a divorce. This forces many women to stay in abusive marriages, and this could lead to their deaths. But it’s not just cultural norms that make it difficult for women to leave violent or abusive marriages. India is known for its stringent anti-divorce laws as well. Not only is the legal process incredibly difficult to navigate, but all laws that give women grounds for divorce on the basis of violence require patterns of continuous abuse lasting for at least a year. That means that women like Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who was trapped in an abusive marriage without the support of her family, have very few options for survival. Her story is one that countless other women in India share, and one that will take a massive overhaul of Indian divorce law to fix.
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