gender-based violence
In the wake of the release of Ray Rice’s assault on Janay Palmer, reports of the NFL’s lack of punishment for other domestic violence and sexual assault cases have flooded the media. Many are calling for a boycott of the industry; others demand the resignation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

This has not been the only news in gender-based violence within the United States. Men and women on college campuses have called attention to the high rates of sexual assault at colleges and universities across the country. Increased exposure also revealed the lack of effective investigation or punishment for the perpetrator. Even after the federal government became involved, lack of action at colleges and universities continues.

The problem of violence toward women is not limited to the United States. In many cases, incidence of sexual violence is closely related to poverty.

In India, survivors of sexual violence often experience the same lack of investigation and justice that survivors in the United States do. Al Jazeera reports that, in India, many women are offered a bribe in exchange for the perpetrator going free. These bribes do not come free of fear. In some cases, women are intimidated into dropping the charges.

In Fugana, India, this was the case for a 24-year-old woman, who, allegedly, was raped by three men. For other women, religious riots incited gang rapes, but fear of further attack prevents them from reporting the crimes. Even if survivors file reports, the conviction rate is only 25 percent.

According to SN Chaudhary, poverty plays a role in the occurrence of sexual violence in India. Women in lower socioeconomic groups are more often victims of rape. Higher rates of rape victims were illiterate than literate, suggesting a higher level of financial and social vulnerability.

In Uttar Pradesh, high rates of women have been raped while going to their bathroom outside. Over 90 percent of rape victims were Dalits, or members of the lowest caste. Most of these victims were minors.

More than that, high rates of sexual violence are an indicator of a highly patriarchal societal structure, which contributes to high rates of poverty.

How so? Survivors suffer from a high level of shame because they feel that their honor and respect are lost. In some cases, this translates into a loss of respect and honor for the family. This can lead to a lack of economic opportunity and isolation from a community. If women targeted come from poor backgrounds, rape often locks them into poverty.

As of 2013, India ranked 134 of 187 countries on a United Nations measurement of gender disparities in education, employment, health care and political representation. Limiting women’s access to these basic rights reduces the opportunity for nearly half of the population to reach financial security.

Allowing women to escape poverty can contribute to entire families reaching a new socioeconomic level and increasing access to education, healthcare and other key components of poverty reduction.

– Tara Wilson

Sources: Al Jazeera, PolicyMic, Human Rights and Poverty in India
Sources: EEA Grants