Globally, one in three and, in South Asia, 37% of women face some form of violence — physical, emotional, financial and, increasingly, online. According to the National Crime Records Bureau data for 2017, crimes against women in India were up 6% compared to the previous year with 27.9% of cases filed as “cruelty by husband and his relatives”. A third of 32,559 rape cases involved minor victims.
The post-MeToo era with offshoots in China, Japan, Korea, India and Pakistan has opened conversation about sexual assault. Also under discussion are entrenched patriarchal systems that result in sloppy legal justice, victim-blaming and stigmatisation that cloak perpetrators with impunity.
The 16-day campaign advocates for a global redefining of rape laws that focus on active consent rather than the use of force. But there is need also to dispel stereotypes on the role of women in society that go beyond legislation to include media and popular culture.
To do that, governments and civil society activists, teachers and parents, entertainers and public figures must get down to the really hard work of education — not as a one-off life skills class, but an unrelenting, concerted campaign with a clear message of ending violence against women and girls.
“We are angry,” said Indonesian activist Vica Larasati. The anger isn’t just about shrinking spaces for human rights, regression on sexual and reproductive health rights and the rise of macho nationalism. It is anger over how little has changed 25 years after the Beijing conference set gender equality as a goal. Yes, it’s time to get angry.
Published in Hindustan Times on November 29, 2019