Violence against women in politics
Violence against women in politics is rampant in South Asia according to a new study conducted by the Centre for Social Research and UN Women. The study, “Violence against Women in Politics”, revealed that the insufficient implementation of laws, lack of support from police and judiciary, the socio-economic divide and current power structures are the major reasons for violence.
The study was conducted in India, Nepal and Pakistan and analyses incidents of violence that occurred from 2003 to 2013. It was conducted to address the nature, extent and reasons for violence that inhibits women’s political participation. Approximately 800 respondents were interviewed including election commission officials, police, contestants, and families in urban and rural areas.
The study finds that while the percentage of female voters and women candidates fielded by political parties has increased in all three countries, the percentage of female representatives in national bodies has decreased. The study also finds that more than 60 per cent of women do not participate in politics due to fear of violence.
“Almost 90 per cent of women in these countries feel that violence breaks their resolve to join politics. From our comprehensive review of laws on violence against women, it is clear that none of the three countries has legislation that deals strictly with offenders to prevent violence against women in politics. We know that where laws are in place, prevalence tends to be lower and fewer people think that violence against women in justifiable,” says Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, Representative, UN Women’s Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Except for a few chosen female politicians, most of the elected female representatives have a limited or marginal role in important discussions within their political party. Ranjana Kumari, Director, CSR said “South Asia is home to one-fifth of the worlds’ population and one-third of South Asian women experience violence throughout their lives, which is also a common feature of South Asian politics. Candidates, their families as well as voters have routinely faced violence during elections. The violent nature of politics within South Asia often deters women from participating within the political sphere.”