Following the horrific rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December, Plan is supporting the call for fast track courts in India to address all cases of sexual assault and violence against girls and women. The Indian Government should immediately focus on quick reforms of the investigative and judicial procedures. There needs to be sensitive handling of survivors of sexual assault, during medical, police and court procedures, so that they are not further traumatized. This needs to be accompanied by a sustained social campaign to eliminate the stigma attached to rape survivors in the minds of the conservative majority, and should encourage more comprehensive reporting of the crime.
The violent and extremely brutal nature of the attack left everyone shocked, angry and concerned about the safety of India’s girls and women. Strong patriarchal mindsets and low value placed on girls' and women's lives and rights contributd to the impunity with which gender-based violence is committed in homes and in public spaces across the country in cities, towns and villages. “To ensure a sustained reduction in the instances of violence against girls and women, work is needed to educate the police, judiciary, law makers, institutions and communities to be gender sensitive, gender responsive and ultimately, gender neutral,” explains Rajdeep Roy Chowdhury of Plan India.
Plan has a range of projects in India, which aim to eradicate gender-based violence. The protection of children and young people from violence in any form and in any setting is core to our work. Since 2008, Plan’s ‘Learn without Fear’ campaign has been raising awareness on children’s rights and advocating for the implementation of guidelines to prevent corporal punishment, sexual violence and bullying in schools. Plan is working in partnership with UN Habitat and Women in Cities International for and with adolescent girls to address issues of their safety in public spaces. Adolescent girls are currently involved in conducting safety audits in their communities and will be sharing their findings with relevant stakeholders from the government. And our ‘Engendered’ project involves young men and women identifying issues of gender discrimination within their communities and developing a manual for young people on gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence.
Rajdeep adds, “This violence manifests itself even before girls are born in the form of sex selective termination of pregnancies. Our ‘Let Girls be Born’ project addresses this issue.” We are currently working in five states with a low ratio of girls to boys.
The Young Health Programme, a global partnership between AstraZeneca, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Plan, supports the health and wellbeing of young people in India including increasing awareness of their rights around their own sexual and reproductive health, as well as providing access to self-defence training to girls in one of the communities where we work.
Find out more about our work in India.