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On this Women's Day, let us Indians learn to respect women!

March 08, 2016 11:43 IST

'Sexual violence against women is not something unique to India but in our parts the victim must also have to contend with other burdens. Such as the notion of 'honour' and its loss,' says Aakar Patel.

A protest against violence encountered by women 

March 8 is Women's Day, and I thought I should write about the most vulnerable part of our population and the one most discriminated against.

Defending Jawaharlal Nehru University in his speech which trended worldwide, its student leader Kanhaiya Kumar said two things which I did not know.

First, that it was the only university where the student body as a whole pressed for implementation of reservations. And second that 60 per cent of JNU's students are women.

I noticed that when he lists the groups for whom the JNU students are agitating he says Dalits, Adivasis, Women and Minorities.

The azadi slogans of the students have always included freedom from patriarchy and this is something unusual and to be supported by all of us.

It is a fine thing to be a middle class male in India because even in one of the poorest parts of the world, one is privileged.

The Indian woman, no matter what class and what caste she comes from, must suffer prejudice under a culture shot through with patriarchy.

Sexual violence against women is not something unique to India but it is true that in our parts the victim must also have to contend with other burdens. Such as the notion of 'honour' and its loss.

News on any given day will have the most horrific stories in which women are victimised even after crimes against them. This morning, as I write this, comes news of a 13-year-old girl who was whipped in public by a caste panchayat because her father abused her.

Is it surprising that women distrust the State and society when it comes to sexual violence? Some of the data on this will interest readers.

The government conducts the National Family Health Survey in households to feed the ministry of health and family welfare on maternal and child health, to inform policies. It also talks about the incidence of violence. This becomes complicated also because in India sexual violence by husbands -- marital rape -- is not criminalised -- so this doesn't get counted in this.

Here are the findings from the Indian government's survey, with a sample of 83,703 women, aged 15 to 49:

Aakar Patel is Executive Director, Amnesty International India. The views expressed here are personal.

Aakar Patel