Thorny Transition: Women's empowerment and exposure to violence in India | Violence | Workforce

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This paper examines the relation between women’s empowerment in India and the risk of violence. It starts by situating women’s exposure to violence in the context of a gradual growth in female mobilization and freedom-from-violence rights, yet recognises that this is happening in the context of unfavourable social norms. The two conflicting trends produce a paradox that runs through the paper: women’s empowerment has at times also resulted in greater risks of violence and harassment. This paper provides statistical data and evaluation reports from government and civil society interventions. Its secondary data comes from a series of interviews with government officials, academics, journalists and activists.
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  a   Thorny Transition Women’s Empowerment and Exposure to Violence in India  b   Author:  Lucy DubochetWith contributions from Ranjana Das, Sabita Parida, Smriti Singh The author is grateful to respondents for sharing their insights, as well as Sarah Twigg, Emma Samman, Nisha Agrawal, Julie Thekkudan, Amita Pitre and Taseen Hasan for their valuable comments.June, 2014This study was supported by the World BankThis publication is copyright but the text may be used free of charge for the purposes of advocacy, campaigning, education, and research, provided that the source is acknowledged in full. The copyright holder requests that all such use be registered with them for impact assessment purposes. For copying in any other circumstances, permission must be secured. E-mail: policy@oxfamindia.org/Published by Oxfam India: 4th and 5th Floor, Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, 1, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110001 Tel: +91 (0) 11 4653 8000 www.oxfamindia.orgOxfam IndiaOxfam India, a fully independent Indian organization, is a member of an international confederation of 17 organisations. The Oxfams are rights-based organizations, which fight poverty and injustice by linking grassroots interventions, to local, national, and global polic developments.For further information please write to: policy@oxfamindia.org, or visit our website: www.oxfamindia.org.  Contents abstract 2Introduction 31. Violence against Women in an Evolving Context 5 1.1. Fear in Public Spaces 5  1.1.1. The Uncertain Broader Picture: Interpreting Official Data 6  1.2. Violent Homes 7 1.3. Insecure Workplaces 9 1.4. Risks Linked to Migration 10 1.5. Discrimination Based on Caste, Religion and Tribe 112. Movements, Policies and Politics 14 2.1. Movements, Laws and the Challenge of Implementation 14  2.1.1. Bringing Rights Home 15 2.1.2. Fighting Sexual Harassment at the Workplace 16 2.1.3. New Crowds Speak Up 17 2.1.4. The Voice of the Excluded 19  2.2. Women and Political Power 20  2.2.1. The Revolution at the Grassroots 20 2.2.2. Obstruction at the Top 21 3. Interventions 23 3.1. Addressing Violence: Prevention, Protection, Relief and Redress 23  3.1.1. Enforcing Women’s Right to Be Protected 23 3.1.2. Community Based Approaches to Justice 23 3.1.3. Changing Mindsets to Prevent Violence 24  3.2. Economic Empowerment and the Risk of Violence 25  3.2.1. Linking Economic Empowerment with Safeguards 25 3.2.2. Control over Assets and Violence 28  3.3. Crosscutting Lessons 28  3.3.1. Improving Convergence 28 3.3.2. Overcoming Knowledge Gaps 29 4. Conclusion 31Annexure I: Glossary of Key Laws 32Annexure II: Respondents 33  2 Abstract This paper examines the relation between women’s empowerment in India and the risk of violence. It does so by situating women’s exposure to violence in the context of two conflicting trends. On one hand, it considers how decades of mobilization have resulted in the emergence of a progressive corpus of laws that provide for mandated political representation of women at village level, and establish women’s rights to live free of violence at home, in public spaces and at the workplace. On the other hand, it considers the lasting expression of unfavourable social norms. The two conflicting trends converge in a paradox that runs across the paper: women’s empowerment has at time resulted in greater risks of violence and harassment.We start by discussing trends of violence and link them to broader socioeconomic evolutions. We then consider drivers of change at the top level of policy making and at the grassroots. We conclude by assessing interventions aimed at enforcing women’s right to live free of violence. In particular, we contrast configurations where greater empowerment has exposed women to retaliatory violence with interventions that have successfully mitigated risks of violence. We seek to overcome the scarcity of data by completing official sources with a large range of evaluation reports from government and civil society interventions. The secondary data is completed by a series of semi-structured interviews with government officials, academic, journalists and activists.
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