News / Asia

UN Report: South Asian Women Need More Domestic Violence Protection

Child bride at the Balaji temple in Kamkheda village, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan,  May 7, 2011
Child bride at the Balaji temple in Kamkheda village, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, May 7, 2011
Kurt Achin

International rights activists say South Asian women need more legal protection from violence brought on by their own families.   A new report from the United Nations says even in countries with domestic violence laws in place - justice remains out of reach for millions of  women.

Laws non existing, or inadequate

The report  titled In Pursuit of Justice notes that only four South Asian countries - Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh - have laws specifically prohibiting domestic violence.  But even where laws exist, scholars say lack of awareness, poverty, and social stigma often prevent women from accessing legal help.

United Nations Women, which was formed last year to focus on gender equality and women's empowerment, points to nearly 90,000 cases of family violence in 2009 here in India alone.  The report says 35 percent of Indian respondents surveyed say they have been physically abused by family members.

Madhu Bala Nada is a senior policy advisor to UN Women in India.  

"We have to re-look at the way we have been looking at family as a protective unit," said Madhu Bala Nada.

Hina Jilani is a prominent lawyer and co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.  She agrees South Asian countries should stop behaving as though family matters fall outside the justice system.

"The family has now become the locus of violence, especially against women and children and the whole question of family being the basic unit of society is there in international instruments [of human rights] as well as in many constitutions," said Hina Jilani. "So I would say we really need to review the whole notion, and stop romanticizing the family."  

The UN Women's report says nearly half of all women surveyed in Bangladesh report incidents of physical violence by their partners.  

Bangladeshi women's rights activist Sultana Kamal says the country's domestic violence law can not make much of an impact unless attitudes also evolve.

"In our society there is an acceptance of violence against women - either explicit or latent," said Sultana Kamal. "It's a culture of impunity. The whole society will have to stand up and say this can't go on."

But Lakshmi Puri, assistant U.N. secretary-general for gender equality and empowerment, says passing domestic violence legislation can be a good catalyst for changing public mindsets.

"When there is a law against domestic violence, people realize - even in the family context - that it is not a natural thing to do," said Lakshmi Puri. "That strengthens the perception that it is wrong to use violence against women and girls, in the family."

Sapana Pradhan Malla, a member of Nepal's Constituent Assembly, says the laws in place to protect women should be enforced.

"Generally what happens in our part of the world - yes, we criminalize excessive use of power, we also criminalize abuse of power," said Sapana Pradhan Malla. "But we don't criminalize non-action of state actors, so we need to criminalize and make them accountable."

Not enough women in official positions

United Nations officials say more women in law enforcement and the justice system could also help victims of violence.  Currently, in South Asia, women make up just 9 percent of judges, 4 percent of prosecution staff and just 3 percent of police.

Experts say increasing the number of women in such positions could better help South Asian women understand and navigate the justice process, many of whom are impoverished, illiterate and unaware of the laws and programs in place to protect them.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid