LUCKNOW – The Indian government invited UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo to visit the country from 22 April to 1 May and look into the prevailing living standards of woman in India. In her initial findings, Manjoo found that the government of India has signed and ratified numerous international human rights instruments. It has also adopted many progressive laws and policies at the Union and State levels, including amendments to existing laws, to address various manifestations of violence against women. At the institutional level, the duty of promoting and protecting the rights of women and children is vested in numerous Union and state level Ministries, departments, commissions, committees and missions.
Furthermore numerous programs and policies have been put in place in recent years to address the issue of violence against women within a human rights and development framework. These include schemes addressing the needs of victims of rape, trafficking, domestic violence, and so on. Some of these schemes address counselling, support, skills development, access to benefits and also to shelters. Public-private partnerships have been forged within different spheres including the police sector.
However, despite these various positive developments, the unfortunate reality is that the rights of many women in India continue to be violated with impunity. Redress mechanisms of mediation and compensation erode accountability imperatives, further fostering norms of impunity. A law and order approach to sexual wrongs, as in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case, foreclosed the opportunity to establish a holistic and remedial framework. It fails to address the structural and root causes and consequences of violence against women.
Manjoo, in her report, excerpts of which were released by National Alliance for People’s Movement, also said several instances of direct and indirect violence in different spheres, whether perpetrated by state actors or condoned by the State, were shared with her during the mission. In India, she said, gender violence manifests in numerous ways and varies in prevalence and forms based on several factors including geographic location.