Violence against working women in India


    In News

    The murder of 19-year-old girl, a receptionist at a resort in Uttarakhand, has jolted the dreams of many young girls all over the country.


    • There is a fresh wave of anxiety and fear that is generated in the minds of girls who have such dreams and their parents.
    • Urban centres vs small towns: 
      • For educated girls from rural areas, urban pockets are centres of hope with promised potential for social and economic independence and upward mobility. 
      • Many cannot make it to the metros, and for them, small towns are places to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. 
    • Contribution in family income: 
      • Their contribution remains critical for survival, especially at a time rural household incomes are dwindling. 

    Current Issues and Challenges 

    • Migration is a problem:  Migration to big cities is a hard task for those coming from the economically weaker strata, given the difficulties in finding jobs and places to stay. 
      • Many women reported their difficulty in accessing employment in urban areas. 
    • Lack of adequate information on the job profile, conditions of work including working time characterise women’s experiences in many services sectors. 
      • Informal channels were found as the major source of information in urban areas including in small towns. 
    • Non-uniform wage rates, the absence of defined working hours, incidences of violence and harassment including sexual harassment were highlighted by women, though the prevalence varied across sectors and locations. 
    • Unreported Cases: Cases of women and young girls facing physical and sexual violence go unreported due to various reasons, including social stigma which is compounded among migrants.
    • Less education leads to informal occupation:  Urban-bound migrants who are not highly educated, the usual options other than paid domestic work is employment in informal services, which are highly unregulated. 
      • Such women are thus forced to negotiate the volatilities in the labour market and simultaneously fight against gendered notions both at the workplace and outside. 
    • Awareness: 
      • An unawareness of their rights and laws around sexual harassment, coupled with the absence of support from civil society and non-governmental organisations, often leaves women in these sectors in the custody and control of their employers. 
    • Trafficking and forced prostitution
      • It is so prevalent all over the world.
      • People are trafficked to different states and even countries in the bait of jobs and later are forced to do manual work or even worse prostitution.
    • Limited occupation for women:
      • While there has been a greater diversification of occupations as a whole in cities, women’s employment shows concentration in a few occupational segments and sectors. 

    Laws and Measures taken in India

    • Laws:
      • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
      • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
      • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
      • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
      • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
    • Government Initiatives: 
      • Nirbhaya Fund for projects for the safety and security of women
        • One-Stop Centre Scheme to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof
        • the Scheme of ‘Universalisation of Women Helpline’ and 
        • the Scheme of ‘Mahila Police Volunteers’
      • Online analytic tool for police called “Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences” to monitor and track time-bound investigation in sexual assault cases in accordance with Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018.
      • National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country by law enforcement agencies
    • A cyber-crime portal has been launched for citizens 
      • to report obscene content. 
      • Cyber Crime Forensic Labs have been set up in several States, and training of over 3,664 personnel, including 410 Public Prosecutors and Judicial Officers in identifying, detecting and resolving cyber-crimes against women and children has been imparted.

    Way Ahead

    • Making Laws without proper implementation
      • Just making the laws will not work, needs to be checked for its proper implementation. 
      • Unnao case proves that making laws is not sufficient, its proper implementation is necessary
    • Societal Change: In our society people should openly discuss about sex and sex related crimes, about menstruation. Parents must treat their male and female children equally and should not allow them to remain aloof, isolated.
    • Psycho-Social counselling sessions must be conducted in schools and colleges to take feedback from girls, parents at home must take feedback to know if anything wrong happens with their girls.
    • Sex education must be imparted to students, youths must be sensitized on sex, and sex related crimes about rape too.
    • Self-defence training in school and colleges must be mandatory.
    • Both print and electronic media must raise the issues, can sensitize people and create pressure on decision making bodies.

    Mains Practice Question

    [Q] Human beings are social animals; it is society that shapes their attitudes, thinking and beliefs. Discuss in the context of violence against working women in small-town India.