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Will new elections in the world's largest democracy benefit Indian women?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/8/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

India has long journey towards gender equity - will political parties respond?

As the world's largest democracy, India, heads to the polls, the question arises: Will the three main political parties satisfactorily address the rampant gender inequity with their nation? There has been strides made after a horrific gang rape aboard a speeding bus in New Delhi in 2012 galvanized the women here to speak out on sexual violence against woman and girls. Will the new administration here address these very real concerns?

As the world's largest democracy, India, heads to the polls, the question arises: Will the three main political parties satisfactorily address the rampant gender inequity with their nation?

As the world's largest democracy, India, heads to the polls, the question arises: Will the three main political parties satisfactorily address the rampant gender inequity with their nation?

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/8/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: India, women's issues, women electorate, crimes against women


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - India's three main political parties - the ruling Congress Party, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party have all made significant promises to India's female voters, who make up 48.5 percent of the 815 million electorate

All three parties say in their manifestoes they are committed to passing the Women's Reservation Bill in parliament. The bill allows for one third of seats in national and state assemblies to be reserved for women. Previous attempts to pass the bill in the lower house have been blocked by some male legislators.

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All three parties also recognize that violence against women is a major problem facing India, where a rape is reported every 21 minutes. Molestation, trafficking, acid attacks, dowry murders, child marriage, female feticide and domestic violence are widespread here.

All three parties say they will make police stations more women-friendly by increasing the number of female staff.

Human rights lawyers say India's criminal justice system fails thousands of victims due to a judicial process that is archaic, under-resourced, gender-insensitive and archaically slow.

All three parties say they plan to create more fast-track courts to deal with a rising number of cases of crimes against women.

More importantly, millions of women in India do not earn equal pay to men for their work. Less than a third do not even have a bank account which is essential to access loans.

The Bharatiya Janata Party says it will review the working conditions and increase the salaries of female government health workers who are renowned for being overworked and underpaid.

The party also plans to establish a special adult literacy initiative for women with a focus on marginalized communities such as low caste groups and will "transform the quality of life of rural women by providing electricity, tapped water, cleaner fuel and toilets in every home."

India has unequal child sex ratios that rights campaigners describe as alarming. Due mainly to selective abortions of female fetuses, the number of girls under six years old has fallen for the past 50 years. The 2011 census recorded 919 girls to every 1,000 boys, compared to 976 in 1961.

Both the Congress and the AAP say they will launch national campaigns to tackle this practice and also strengthen legislation and punishments for female feticide.

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