India has witnessed a steep rise in sexual harassment complaints, and the country is now the second worst offender behind South Africa, according to a new report by the advocacy group AYUSH.
The group surveyed more than 100 women in the country and found that almost a quarter of the respondents have experienced sexual harassment or violence by their husbands, male partners or family members in the past 12 months.
The survey also found that more than half of those who reported harassment said they had been targeted or verbally abused.
India’s top harassers The report revealed that women in India’s upper echelons of society are often the victims of the most egregious acts of sexual harassment.
“The vast majority of women reported that their husbands were sexually harassing them in some way, while only around 5% of the women said they felt safe to report the abuse,” the report stated.
Women who said they were harassed by their husband or other family members also reported the same pattern of harassment, the report noted.
The harassment is usually perpetrated by relatives, neighbours or even other family friends.
The report also revealed that more women than men are afraid to come forward in the face of harassment.
The women who spoke to the AYush report also expressed concern over how the law on sexual harassment and discrimination is being interpreted.
“There are a number of cases of rape victims who have been unable to report these incidents because they fear reprisal from their husband, partners or the family,” the women’s rights advocate Kavita Krishnan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The lack of awareness of sexual violence in India has led to an increasing number of men committing sexual violence against women.
Women are frequently forced into marriage and forced to marry outside their own caste, gender, caste-related social restrictions, and family tradition, the A YUSH report found.
Many women also are forced into prostitution, often in India, and live in the poverty-stricken areas of the country.
The AYUR report highlighted how the rape of women by their family members and the forced marriage of their daughters is one of the key drivers of the increase in domestic violence.
India is home to about 3 million Dalits, or “untouchables,” and is often considered a caste-based country, according the report.
The majority of Dalits live in remote and remote areas of India, where their survival is often precarious, said Krishnan.
“We need to look at the social status of Dalit women, the lack of protection they receive from law enforcement, and gender bias,” she said.
India has also witnessed a rise in the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual violence as well as rape in rural areas.
The situation in rural India, however, is more dire, the advocacy organization said.
AYUS India spokesperson Sitaram Pemba told the BBC the organization believes women and children are at particular risk when they are forced to live in poverty, live with other family groups and live with men and their relatives.
“It is difficult to find a job and often very difficult to raise children in rural and remote parts of the nation,” he said.
“And it’s the inability of women to be independent and secure in their own communities that is contributing to the situation.”
AYUT has been working on the implementation of the National Action Plan to tackle sexual violence and discrimination in the nation for over a decade.
A YUR report found that the law against gender discrimination is often applied to women in rural districts and urban areas, while laws against domestic violence are largely ignored.
The organization also highlighted that the lack or lack of effective and comprehensive anti-trafficking and sex trafficking laws, especially in rural Indian states, contributes to the increase of sexual and gender violence.
“Many people believe that women who are abused are doing something wrong and will be punished,” Pembara said.
But the reality is that many victims of abuse are women who were never abused.
“Our focus is on protecting the rights of women and girls and the safety of women,” PEMBA added.
AYEUSH, the National Council for Women, and AYUZ have been working together to tackle the problem of sexual abuse in the family.
AYC, which is part of AYUK, has also been working to ensure that women and families are not neglected in their everyday lives.
“If a woman is raped by her husband or a family member, she can be traumatised by that and not feel safe,” AYC India spokesperson Kavit Chatterjee told the Indian Express.
“But she can also feel guilty and want to report it,” Chatterji said.
The law against domestic and sexual harassment has been amended several times in recent years, but it is not clear how many cases have been prosecuted.
AYAUZ, the Indian Federation of Sexual Health and Advocacy Organizations, has been involved in a campaign to get the new law on gender equality in place.
“As a community, we need to work together to ensure women are safe and empowered to live their lives,”