In a recent study funded by United Nations, it was found that women politicians in different parts of Asia including Nepal, Pakistan and India are facing adverse situation. Women politicians have to bear sexual harassment, physical assaults, character assassination, abuse, kidnapping as well as threats. This study is the first about women politicians in the region and it was also found that such attacks not only came from those in the opposition party but also from candidates of own party.
CSR Study on Women Politicians
This situation has demoralized many of the prospective women politicians and quite a few of them have decided not to get into this profession, which is male dominated one. In a news conference, UN Women representative informed that despite of rights to equality in all these 3 countries, women are facing violence. About eight hundred people in these 3 countries were surveyed in this study conducted by CSR Delhi.
People surveyed were mainly female politicians who were defeated in elections between 2003 and 2013. Along with female politicians, their family members, police, party campaigners and officials from the election commission were also interviewed.
Need for Women Empowerment
Experts believe that among all issues that need attention in South Asia, women empowerment is the most important. If women have a bigger role to play in parliaments and village councils then it will mean general improvement in condition of women in these countries. It will also help in development of policies and laws, which will be helpful for women in general and help them fight against discrimination and abuse as well.
Presence in Parliament
While the number of female voters and candidates of political parties has improved over the years, on the other hand, percentage of women present in national governing bodies has been going down in recent years. It is a startling fact that in India women represents only 11% of the parliament while global average is 21%. Condition is better in Pakistan and Nepal where the percentage is 21 and 29 respectively.
Women – Victim of Sexual Assault & Violence
It was found that victims were mainly young women who were new politicians or first generation aspirants. Most of the people who were interviewed said that being asked of sexual favors like for getting candidature for any constituency was most common. In case men politicians did not find any fault in a women politician’s work, the next thing to do was character assassination to damage that person’s reputation.
Many believe that patriarchal mindset is a major factor that is preventing entry of women in politics on a large scale. The laws are also not in women’s favor and now there is a need to implement laws like 33% reservation for women in parliaments.