Which is India's most violent city

Background and project description

The situation of women in India - times of upheaval

The BHUMIKA Women's Collective mobilizes against violence against women. Photo: © Gina Rumsauer. The past decade has made India's women's voices in politics, economy and culture, in public life in cities, but also in the country louder. At the same time, only 11.6 percent of the seats in the Indian parliament are given to women. Only 39 percent of women have a secondary school diploma - versus 63.5 percent of men (index for gender inequality, UNDP 2018).

Whether a woman can lead a self-determined and free life depends heavily on her religious and caste affiliation, her social class, her level of education and that of her environment. Since two thirds of the people in India are part of the rural population, who often have no comparable access to education as people in the cities, a large number of women are still cut off from emancipatory movements.

Parallel to the development in India's metropolises, traditional patriarchal structures are still firmly anchored in people's lives and thoughts. This includes the patrilocal family order. Traditionally, the woman leaves her own family after marriage and henceforth belongs to the husband's family. It is of little use to one's own relatives. This order has far-reaching consequences for the social value assigned to women and contributes to the structural discrimination against women:

  • The desire for sons leads to the targeted abortion of female fetuses.
  • Since the wife's work is “in the house”, less emphasis is placed on education among girls.
  • The custom of dowry leads to so-called dowry murders by the husband's family, who can receive money and / or goods again through another marriage.
  • In the husband's family, the wife initially occupies the lowest level in the family hierarchy and is therefore vulnerable to violent attacks by the wedded relatives.

Shelters for women are also rare outside of the family. An international outcry denouncing the precarious conditions for women in India last followed the fatal rape of a young student in December 2012. In India, too, the incident caused great horror and resulted in the public and private safety of women increasing in the National debates became the focus.

Protective measures and reforms introduced since then have hardly had any effect: In 2018, the Thomson Reuters Foundation classified India as the most dangerous country for women worldwide, ahead of Afghanistan and Syria, which occupy places 2 and 3, due to the high risk of sexual violence.

Discrepancy: Strong criminal law, poor implementation

Structural discrimination can be found in all phases of life of women. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMES2012 the government set up express courts to punish the perpetrators more quickly and consistently. At the beginning of 2013, Indian sexual law was tightened: since then, the term rape is no longer linked to the use of force or specific threats, but solely to the woman's lack of consent. The law on protection against domestic violence offers women legal security in the event of physical or psychological violence regardless of their marital status, i.e. also outside of marriage.

Despite efforts by the state, civil society and the population to protect women and girls from violent attacks, the official figures on gender-based violence remain high across India.

According to the latest nationwide survey by the Indian Ministry of Health (NHFS-4 2015/16), every third woman between the ages of 15 and 49 is exposed to domestic violence.

Education about women's rights, here at a school, plays a major role. Photo: © Gina Rumsauer

The violence statistics of the Indian Women’s Commission in Telangana speak the same language: of a total of 138 complaints that the commission received in 2017, 91, i.e. over 65 percent, were from Hyderabad alone, where the BHUMIKA Women’s Collective is based.

Hyderabad is the second most dangerous metropolis for married women in India after Delhi. (National Bureau of Crime Statistics 2016, PDF file) While 3,645 cases of domestic violence by the husband or his relatives were registered in the almost 19 million metropolis of Delhi in 2016, in Hyderabad, with only seven million inhabitants, there were still 1,311.

Human Rights Watch reports that police officers are often unwilling to take sexual harassment complaints. Neither the victims themselves nor relevant witnesses receive sufficient protection in the event of threats of violence or retaliation by the perpetrator or those around him.

The reason for the discrepancy between the legal situation and lived reality is the slow and often inadequate implementation of the law and the punishment of violent crimes against women. Authorities representatives who record violent attacks are often untrained and know neither the legal texts nor the legal process of filing a complaint. There is also a lack of contact points and specialized facilities that support women and girls when they experience violence and provide medical care.

BHUMIKA Women's Collective - contact point for women in need

Had to fight for her right to education herself: Kondaveeti Satyavati, founder and coordinator of BHUMIKA
Photo: © ASW - Action Group Solidarity World The project of the BHUMIKA Women’s Collective in Telangana, funded by TERRE DES FEMMES, supports girls and women who are exposed to domestic and sexualised violence.

The history of the women's rights organization BHUMIKA Women's Collective began in 1993: At that time, founder Kondaveeti Satyavati published a feminist women's magazine called BHUMIKA for the first time. Kondaveeti Satyavati comes from a humble background and had to fight for her right to an education. She eventually made the leap to university and has been committed to women and women's rights since the 1970s.

The BHUMIKA Women’s Collective works on several levels for better accompaniment and the emotional and legal empowerment of girls and women who are threatened or affected by violence. Violence prevention is also an important concern for the BHUMIKA Women’s Collective.