Money Matters

If further proof were required that violence against women bears consequences that go far beyond the women themselves, it is now available. New research has revealed that the Indian economy would experience a boost worth thousand of crores of rupees if only its states reduced domestic violence. The latest National Family Health Survey has shown that 22 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced sexual and other forms of physical violence at the hands of their husbands. This alone amounts to at least five crore women. There are many reasons why such appalling figures endure - in spite of the existence of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 - not least of which is the misogyny of the larger society, which is reflected in the unwillingness of successive governments to criminalize marital rape. More worrying, however, is the perceived lack of clarity among the judiciary regarding the interpretation of the domestic violence law, as a result of which perpetrators of marital rape often slip through the net. All of this directly results in women having to miss work - both paid and unpaid - each time they are assaulted. Counting only married women, this will amount to an annual loss for the economies of two Indian states - Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan - to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore and Rs 8,200 crore respectively.

  • Published 8.06.18
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If further proof were required that violence against women bears consequences that go far beyond the women themselves, it is now available. New research has revealed that the Indian economy would experience a boost worth thousand of crores of rupees if only its states reduced domestic violence. The latest National Family Health Survey has shown that 22 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced sexual and other forms of physical violence at the hands of their husbands. This alone amounts to at least five crore women. There are many reasons why such appalling figures endure - in spite of the existence of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 - not least of which is the misogyny of the larger society, which is reflected in the unwillingness of successive governments to criminalize marital rape. More worrying, however, is the perceived lack of clarity among the judiciary regarding the interpretation of the domestic violence law, as a result of which perpetrators of marital rape often slip through the net. All of this directly results in women having to miss work - both paid and unpaid - each time they are assaulted. Counting only married women, this will amount to an annual loss for the economies of two Indian states - Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan - to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore and Rs 8,200 crore respectively.

Given the bleakness of the picture, it is heartening that two programmes incentivizing the reduction of domestic violence, with proven rates of success - in their countries of origin, Uganda and South Africa, they led to an estimated reduction of 55 per cent in domestic violence - have presented themselves. These seek to repeatedly expose people to newer, healthier attitudes towards women. What they learn would then percolate through entire communities. This would be followed by educating women about their rights and equipping them to take action when they face prejudice or violence. In Andhra Pradesh alone, the resultant decrease in domestic violence would lead to women generating Rs 28,000 crore for the state economy. But how long will it take for such effects to show in India, which experiences multifarious problems of poverty, hunger, communal violence and gender-based crime at all levels of community? Further, while any attempt to combat a crime as heinous as domestic violence is to be welcomed, a nation that needs to employ the language of economic prosperity over that of human rights in order to discourage its men from assaulting women must take a long, hard look at itself and address the utter breakdown of values in its society.

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