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‘Calculate cost of domestic violence’

International Center for Research on Women's president says legal bulwarks are necessary to give women a chance to climb up the development ladder, reports Kumkum Dasgupta.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2008 01:25 IST
Kumkum Dasgupta

At a time when the policy discourse across the world is revolving around the importance of women in the development of nations and the need to promote gender equality, the debate on women’s reservation in India has been put on the backburner. Saying that the stalling of a progressive legislation like this does not augur well, Geeta Rao Gupta, the president of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), says such legal bulwarks are necessary to give women a chance to climb up the development ladder.

Gupta is a leading authority on women’s role in the development process, a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and the protection and fulfilment of women’s human rights.

“It is true that in the initial years, not many women would be able to make the best use of such legislations or may be stopped from exercising their rights, but that should not deter us. The next generation will use such laws to their benefit. A nation cannot grow unless and until it lets its women to be a partner in its progress," she added.

More women in Parliament would mean more pro-women legislations. A few women in the House, she adds with a smile, would mean they would have to be “one of the boys”.

Speaking on India’s demographic dividend, Gupta says there will be no dividend unless and until the government invests in those numbers, especially women, because that would have an inter-generational impact.

Interestingly, the ICRW has undertaken a study in Morocco and Bangladesh to find out the costs/financial implications of domestic violence against women.

“Domestic violence has economic costs because it leads to absenteeism from work and also has medical costs attached to it. It would be interesting to do a similar study in India. We are now developing a methodology to quantify this, but in an ethical way,” says Gupta.