Preventing and managing violence against women in IndiaBMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f229 (Published 11 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f229
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The article quotes the absolute number of rape cases of recorded in India in 2011. The comparison of this data with data six years prior reveals that there is 48.32% rise in recorded cases of crime against women. In rape cases about 17% rise in five years has been recorded. Rape is the tip of the ice berg; other violence, particularly domestic violence is far larger issue. Secondly the data shows recorded cases only which are surely gross underestimate. In the article has categorised interventions at three levels. The primary prevention must target root causes such as inequality between the sexes, social norms etc. On this background India has passed two important acts for redressal. The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) was made applicable in 1994 and amended 2003. It is primarily focussed to curb misuse of technology in determination and selection of sex. Sex selective elimination is the severe most form of discrimination against women. It was felt necessary to sensitize the judicial officers about extent of the problem and the PCPNDT Act, by Government of Maharashtra, Maharashtra Legal Services Authority and UNFPA (1). Accordingly actions were taken. The second legislation, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 aims to provide more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family. Gender bias in medical textbooks is well described (2) . These two acts were scrutinized to assess gender bias in the scripts. Normally most the forms which an individual has to fill seek information by giving alternative words to describe the person. The words are framed, he/she or his/her. In PCPNDT Act the doctor, the member of board/committee and manager/director is described as only as ‘he’. The description appears six times and description as ‘she’ is conspicuously absent. The word ‘his’ has appeared nine times and among that once it appears for complainant. Rest of the times it describes the doctor, the member of board/committee and manager/director. In The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, out of ten ‘he’, nine times it describes the Magistrate or Protection Officer and once the respondent. The word ‘his’ appears seven times describing the Magistrate of Protection Officer five times and twice it refers to respondent. The numbers are not important; they indicate the strong and deep routed gender bias which appears knowingly or un-knowingly. Paradoxically it has appeared in the acts which are predominantly meant for redressal of discrimination. In the primary prevention one must include removal of gender bias including in the written documents.
1. Gulati A, Doke P, Josh SP and Mangal DA. Working with Judiciary for Effective Implementation of the PCPNDT Act. Quarterly Publication of the Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, All India Institute of Local Self Government, Mumbai. Vol. 4: No. 3, July-September 2011.
2. Dijkstra AF, Verdonk P, Lagro-Janssen AL. Gender bias in medical textbooks: examples from coronary heart disease, depression, alcohol abuse and pharmacology. Med Educ. 2008 Oct; 42(10):1021-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03150.x. Epub 2008 Aug 27. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18761614. Accessed on 20 April 2013.
Competing interests: No competing interests