India’s daughters: Battered, Unlettered and Penniless

In a damning indictment of how poorly India treats its women, a study by two prestigious international institutes has found that one in every three Indian women is a survivor of lifelong intimate partner violence. A report prepared jointly by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security (Washington) and the Peace Research Institute (Oslo), 37 per cent of Indian women experience violence at the hands of their intimate partners.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines intimate partner violence as “… any behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.” This is the most common form of violence faced by women worldwide. According to a 2013 study titled The Global Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women by K.M Devries, 30 per cent of women globally aged 15 and older have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.

The study includes data on a variety of parameters and ranks countries based on how well or poorly women are treated there. India ranks 131, which may be higher than perceived arch rival Pakistan’s lowly 150th rank, but is way lower than Ghana, Tunisia and Uganda… even Iran scored higher at 116th!

But it doesn’t stop at just domestic abuse. India’s record is marred by poor scores on several other key parameters. The average Indian girl gets 5 years of schooling, while the average Iranian girl gets 8. India also scores poorly on the financial inclusion front with a meagre 43 per cent which pales in comparison to even Iran where the corresponding figure is 87 per cent. Women’s share of seats in the Indian Parliament is at an abysmal 12 per cent, well below even Nepal that has 30 per cent. At 81 per cent, Nepal also trumps India’s 29 per cent in women’s employment figures.



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