Annually, November 25 is observed as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most persistent, widespread, and devastating human rights violations in the world today. It remains largely unreported due to the silence, impunity, stigma, and shame surrounding it. In general terms, VAWG manifests itself in sexual, physical, and psychological forms.
In 1993, UN General Assembly issued – The “Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women”. It defines violence against females as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
The theme for the year 2022: UNITE! Activism to End Violence against Women And Girls
Under UNITE a campaign will be launched (Nov 25- Dec 10). It is an initiative of 16 days of activism and will conclude on the day that commemorates International Human Rights Day (December 10).
In India, the Central Government is committed to stopping any form of violence against women and girls through multiple policies, schemes, and programmes. In the last eight years, the Union Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has taken a plethora of steps toward assuring the safety and security of the fairer sex.
1) Mission Shakti
It is a scheme in mission mode aimed at strengthening interventions for women’s safety, security, and empowerment. It strives to realise the commitment of the government to “women-led development” by addressing problems affecting women on a life-cycle continuum basis and by making them equal partners in nation-building through convergence and citizen-ownership. The scheme aims to make women economically empowered, exercising free choice over their minds and bodies in an atmosphere free from violence and threat. It also seeks to lower the care burden on women and increase female labour force participation by promoting skill development, capacity building, financial literacy, access to micro-credit, etc.
2) Shelter homes under the ‘Swadhar Greh Scheme’
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing the ‘Swadhar Greh Scheme’ revised with effect from April 01, 2016. The scheme caters to the primary needs of women in difficult circumstances – women and girls rendered homeless due to family discord, crime, violence, mental stress, social ostracism, or being forced into prostitution. Through the provisions of shelter, food, clothing, training, counselling, clinical and legal aid, the scheme aims to rehabilitate such females in difficult circumstances economically and emotionally.
3) Sakhi – One Stop Centres
The Ministry of Women and Child Development also implements the One Stop Centre (OSC) Scheme with effect from April 01, 2015. These OSCs provide a range of combined services under one roof including police facilitation, medical aid, legal aid and counselling, psycho-social counselling, and temporary shelter to women affected by violence or in distress. The setting up of OSCs from the year 2015 onward, at the district level, have provided a dedicated platform to women facing violence and who are in distress to get necessary support and assistance, which was not available earlier. As of 30 September 2022, 733 OSCs have been approved for 729 districts across India. Out of these, 708 OSCs have been operationalized in 35 States/ UTs, which have assisted over 6.17 lakh women.
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4) Digital Shakti Campaign
The National Commission for Women has been implementing the Digital Shakti Campaign, a pan-India project aimed at digitally empowering and skilling women and girls in cyberspace. In line with its commitment to creating safe spaces for women and girls online, Digital Shakti is focused on making women digitally skilled and aware to stand up against any illegal/inappropriate activity online.
5) Stree Manoraksha
Ministry of Women and Child Development has engaged the services of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru for providing basic and advanced training under the project named ‘Stree Manoraksha’ to the staff of One Stop Centres (OSCs) across the country on handling psycho-social and mental health care needs to support the women facing violence and women in distress.
6) Working Women Hostel
Working Women Hostel Scheme is being run by the government to provide safe and conveniently located accommodation for working women, with daycare facilities for their children, wherever possible, in urban, semi-urban, or even rural places where employment opportunities for women exist.
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About the author: Anurag Sason is an Indian journalist with experience in mainstream journalism. He has worked in newspaper, news agency, TV, news app (short video sharing app) and digital media. He tweets at @AnuragSason
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