Share this article Share this article

What's Inside

On the first anniversary of the Hathras gangrape case, which led to the death of a young Dalit woman in September 2020, National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL) took a look at the twelve landmark cases of sexual violence against Dalit women and girls from ten states across the country spanning across 35 years, from 1985 to 2020. Please click here to access the report titled Landmark Cases of Caste-based Sexual Violence from 1985-2020 (released on 14th September, 2021).


The key findings of the UNFPA State of World Population Report 2021 titled My Body is My Own (released in April, 2021) are as follows (please click here and here):

• The report focuses on bodily autonomy - the power and agency to make choices about your body without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you. A serious lack of bodily autonomy has had far-reaching implications much beyond the profound harm to individual women and girls that include potentially depressing economic productivity, undercutting skills, and extra costs to health care and judicial systems.

• Nearly half the women from 57 developing countries do not have the right to decide regarding their bodies including using contraception, seeking health care, or even on their sexuality.

• In countries where data is available, only 55 percent of women are fully empowered to make choices over health care, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex.

• Only 71 percent of countries guarantee access to overall maternity care.

• Only three-fourth of countries legally ensure full, equal access to contraception.

• Only about 80 percent of countries have laws supporting sexual health and well-being.

• Only about 56 percent of countries have laws and policies supporting comprehensive sexuality education.

• Research has shown that girls and women are often unaware that they have the right to say no. One study in India showed that newly married women were less likely to refer to their first sex as forced or “against their will” because sex was expected within marriage. The notion of consent was irrelevant because sex, even if it was forced, was thought to be a marital duty and therefore not a matter of consent (UNFPA, 2019).

• In almost all cases, the dowry practice directly or indirectly oppresses women, often leading to abuse and violence and maintaining a system of gender inequality. It encourages child marriage because families pay smaller dowries for younger brides. It also results in violence: about 8,000 dowry deaths, where women are killed because families are not paid the expected dowry, are recorded each year in India alone, according to that country’s National Crimes Statistics Bureau (Dhillon, 2018).

• A large-scale study in India documented negative reproductive health consequences of child marriages: young women who had married at the age of 18 or older were more likely than those who had married before the age of 18 to have been involved in planning their marriage, to refuse to tolerate domestic violence, to have used contraceptives to delay their first pregnancy and to have had their first birth in a health facility. They were less likely than women who had married early to have experienced physical violence or sexual violence in their marriage or to have had a miscarriage or stillbirth (Santhya and others, 2010).

• The issue of surrogacy has long been considered ethically and legally fraught. Highly publicized lawsuits and custody battles in the United States, India and elsewhere have raised questions about the rights and responsibilities of surrogates and intended parents, as well as the rights of the baby produced by the surrogacy arrangement (Nadimpally and others, 2016).

• In India, according to NFHS-4 (2015-2016), only about 12 percent of currently married women (15-49 years of age) independently make decisions about their own healthcare, while 63 percent decide in consultation with their spouse.

• For a quarter of Indian women (23 percent), it is the spouse that mainly takes decisions about healthcare.

• Regarding the power to decide about use of contraception, only 8 percent of currently married women (15-49 years) in India do it independently, while 83 percent decide jointly with their spouse. For nearly 1 in 10 women, it is the husband who largely takes decisions about the use of contraception.

• Information provided to Indian women about contraception is limited. Only 47 percent women using a contraceptive were informed about the side effects of the method, and 54 percent women were provided information about other contraceptives. 

Rural Expert

Write Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Video Archives


share on Facebook
Read Later

Contact Form

Please enter security code