Violence against women, especially in homes, is on the rise or more victims are reporting the crime.
There has been a 24 per cent increase in registration of domestic violence cases — where husbands or other family members assaulted women — in three years from 2005, data released by the Women and Child Development Ministry on the eve of October 2, the world non-violence day, said.
Quoting the figures, Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said most women, especially those in rural areas, were not speaking up against the violence at home.
Non-conventional ways were needed to check it, she said while launching a nation-wide campaign, ahisma (non-violence) messengers, to prevent violence against women in villages.
“Each woman panchayat member will head a group to organise women in a village to fight against violence through non-violent ways,” she said. At least half of the 2.6 million local body members in the country will be women after the next round of local elections, Tirath said. The Centre recently reserved 50 per cent seats in local bodies for women.
Awareness, however, remains a concern.
Designated as ahimsa messenger, Manorama Rajawat, who heads a panchayat in Rajasthan, didn’t know that there were laws — domestic violence and dowry prohibition acts — that protected women. “Are there such laws?” the 53-year-old, who is in an abusive marriage, wondered.
Younger women, who are educated, resist abuse, said Neeta Manglati from the Latur district of Maharashtra. “But, many accept defeat when their families and government refuse help,” said the 24-year-old.
The ministry officials said some states had not appointed women protection officers exclusively for both the laws. In Maharashtra, protection officers run 20 schemes and implement three laws, leaving them little time to devote time to an abuse complaint, said an official, who didn’t wish to be identified.
Tirath, however, was confident that ahisma messengers will be an effective alternative.