‘International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women‘ is celebrated every year on 25 November by the United Nations to eradicate increasing incidents of violence, exploitation and harassment against women all over the world, and this is a serious problem plaguing the entire world. The United Nations organizes many events that highlight the need to do something more to eliminate this type of violence against women. Women’s groups and voluntary organizations undertake various initiatives to highlight the worrying situation of women in society, and the resulting adverse effects on women’s physical, mental and psychological health. Many women’s rights activists and organizations support feminist movements on this day to free the world from violence against women.
The Day also honours Mirabal Sisters, whose three sisters, Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal, and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were brutally murdered on this day in 1960 on the orders of political activist Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930–1961). These three sisters had strongly opposed Trujillo’s dictatorship. Women’s rights supporters and activists have celebrated this day since 1981 to commemorate the death of these three sisters. With the development in the country and the world, instead of subsiding, the violent thoughts towards women have been emerging in newer forms. To overcome this violent social thinking and ideology, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a day related to the existence and identity of women, which gives the message of consciousness of responsibility, a call to develop a new civilized and decent thinking towards women. This day guards those crossroads from where there are possibilities of deviation of life ideals and violence against women; it stops those aspirations whose violent pace is very fast, but which reflects the wild race of society without any aim. One of the objectives of celebrating this day is to make resolutions to control increasing violence against women. This day is a unique medium to make women powerful, progressive and cultured.
Every hour more than five women or girls are murdered by someone in their own families. Nearly one in three women has been a victim of physical and sexual violence at least once in her life. No less than 86 percent of women and girls live in countries without legal protection against gender-based violence. Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent and widespread human rights violations in the world. This crisis has intensified in a variety of settings, including workplace and online spaces, which is further exacerbated by after-effects of pandemic, conflicts, and climate change. It is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that 70 percent of women have experienced physical and sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Adult women account for 51 percent of all human trafficking victims detected worldwide. The European Union reports one in 10 women have experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15. The risk is highest among young women between the ages of 18 and 29. Violence against women is a global epidemic. No less than 70 percent of women experience violence sometimes or other in their lifetime.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data also highlights the increase in crimes against women. These crimes include rape, domestic- violence, assault, dowry harassment, acid attack, kidnapping, human- trafficking, cyber- crime and workplace harassment etc. According to NCRB data, a total of 32,559 rapes took place in India in 2017, in which 93.1 percent of the accused were close relatives. According to the report of National Crime Bureau-2017, the highest numbers of cases numbering 5562 were registered in Madhya Pradesh; while Rajasthan stood second in this list with 3305 rape cases. In Rajasthan, there has been a terrible mentality of killing girl babies as soon as they are born. With some thought and contemplation, we come to know that sexual harassment against women, including gossiping, eve-teasing, prostitution, forced pregnancy, buying and selling of women and girls, violent behaviour resulting from war and gruesome torture in prisons are rampant. It still continues against women and instead of decreasing, it is increasing.
Today, it is necessary to discuss general women of the society suffering from violence and oppression. It is unfortunate that women in developed and developing countries are under the shadow of oppression, exploitation, discrimination and harassment. Minority Rights Group International, in its annual report titled ‘The Situation of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples’, describes how women from minority and indigenous communities around the world are more likely to be victims of violence, whether in times of conflict or peace. . Mark Latimer, executive director of this organization, said that women across the world have to suffer the brunt of physical violence due to discrimination against minorities. This situation is frightening even in the context of India. Even though the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently doing commendable work for women empowerment, yet in the modern era, not only thousands of minorities, but also common women are far away from their full rights. Even though the government has prepared hundreds of schemes for women- upliftment, there is still a lack of education and awareness among women. Ignorant of their duties and rights, the world of women has been confined to the kitchen. Women of tribal communities in India are unaware of their rights and their life is still like a tragedy.
The mentality of regarding women as inferior and of secondary status has penetrated into every fiber of the Indian society. The real question is how to change this mentality. Over the years, the tendency to hide crime and fear the criminals has started to end, from movements like MeToo or the laws made after Nirbhaya incident. Therefore, such crimes may not be complete, but still they are coming to light in large numbers. An unjust person continues to do injustice, as long as he is tolerated. To create this belief among women, a fundamental change is also needed in the justice system and mentality. People in the country do not have complete knowledge about women’s rights, and it is not followed with full seriousness and will-power. Despite all the claims of women empowerment, women are far away from their real rights. They have to understand that accidents do not choose the person and the time and it is not their fault that all this happened.
Not only the polluted and distorted ways of the male society have to be changed, but also the roots of those reasons have to be uprooted due to which women are forced to drink poison again and again. World Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an opportunity for non-governmental organizations, international organizations and governments to raise public awareness about violence against women. The world must pave the way for genuine respect for the human dignity of women, so that the work of securing their real rights can be practical. So that words like rape, gang-rape, women oppression, women violence cease to exist in this world.