Media Statement from Plan International in India Condems Sexual Violence Against Women and Children
DELHI – In light of the recent spate of reports from India detailing yet another horrific case of sexual assault, Plan International India condemns the widespread sexual violence against women and children.
The organization extends its condolences to the bereaved families and joins with other child and human rights organizations and UN bodies in calling for swift action against the perpetrators of the crime.
As an organization working on child and women’s rights across 11 states of India, Plan is aware that the recent media coverage on the spate of horrific and increasingly brutal instances of sexual assaults represents only a fraction of the violence that women, girls, and boys face on a regular basis. A large proportion of these continue to go unreported.
Significant legislation and measures were introduced by the Government of India, in the wake of the incident of the gang rape and death of a young woman in Delhi in December 2013, to prevent and respond to sexual violence against women. The impunity with which gender-based violence continues to be committed in homes and in public spaces must awaken our collective conscience to push for speedy implementation of these mechanisms to make India safer for our women and children.
Recent incidents, such as the gang rape and hanging of two teenage girls in Badaun district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, also highlights the added vulnerability to violence that girls and women face due to the lack of a basic amenity like a toilet at home. According to Plan’s Adolescent Girls’ Views on Safety in Cities report, which focuses on girls’ education and safety in five cities, including Delhi, adolescent girls in urban slums and villages have spoken about the lack of privacy and the indignity and harassment they face when they step out to relieve themselves. A significant number of girls drop out of school because of the lack of separate toilets for them.
Sustained gender sensitive and gender responsive interventions and programs at different levels involving communities, law makers, judiciaries, and police are required if we are to bring about any change in the existing patriarchal mindsets and misogyny and lead to a reduction in instances of violence and sexual assault against women and children.
Plan International in India is committed to addressing gender-based violence
At Plan International India, the protection of children and young persons from violence in any form and in any setting has been core to our work and we have engaged with institutions, communities, families, and children to ensure safe spaces for boys and girls in all our program areas. Plan’s studies on violence against children have informed the campaigns and programs the organisation has undertaken to address and reduce instances of abuse in schools and communities and to address gender-based violence and discrimination against girls and women.
Through Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign programs, the organization is working with adolescent girls and boys, women’s self help groups, communities, and local and state level governance institutions to conduct safety audits and develop preventive and response mechanisms against gender-based violence in schools and communities.
As the recent sex ratio (0-6 years) indicates, girls in India face violence because of their gender even before birth. Plan India’s Let Girls Be Born project addresses the issue of sex selective termination of pregnancy through advocating for the implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act and sensitizing communities on the value of the girl child. Plan currently works in five states with low sex ratio.
The Chuppi Todo (Break the silence) campaign against Child Sexual Abuse, endorsed by the Delhi government, was launched in the capital in 2010, specifically aimed at school children informing them about good touch and bad Touch and the need to report instances of sexual violence.
In 2010, Plan International India conducted a survey of 10,000 girls in 10 cities of India for its State of the Girl Child report - ‘Girls in a Changing Landscape – Urban and Digital frontiers'. Irrespective of caste or class, over 77% girls reported sexual harassment (the term ‘eve teasing’ is the commonly used to describe the abuse) as one of the main disadvantages they perceived in cities. The report was widely shared among stakeholders. Radio programs that highlighted the report findings received calls from girls reporting instances of sexual violence and harassment.
In New Delhi, through Plan’s Because I am a Girl - Urban Program, the organization works with adolescent girls involving them in conducting safety audits in their communities as part of a global project with UN Habitat and Women in Cities International.
Engaging with men and boys is essential if Plan is to work on preventing gender-based violence and gender discrimination. These were the recommendations from Plan’s third State of the Girl Child Report, 2011 on Engaging with Men and Boys on Gender Equality.
Plan’s Engendered project has identified 700 youth as agents of change in the villages of Uttarakhand and Rajasthan and has involved them in a series of training on gender issues to promote gender equality. Gender monitors, both young men and women are subsequently working in their communities to identify and address gender discrimination and gender based violence.
India is also part of the Asia study on Child Marriage and has identified this as a major barrier in girls continuing in schools and as an issue of gender based violence. Plan will be working in communities to take forward the campaign against child marriage based on the recommendations of the study.
About Plan International USA
Plan International USA is part of the Plan International Federation, a global organization that works side by side with communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children and their families. Plan works at the community level to develop customized solutions and ensure long-term sustainability. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by communities for generations to come and range from clean water and health care programs to education projects and child protection initiatives. For more information, please visit www.PlanUSA.org.