More than 60% of women in India, Pakistan and Nepal do not participate in politics due to fear of violence, a study released here Wednesday said.
The study by the UN Women and the Centre for Social Research analyzed incidents of violence that occurred from 2003 to 2013. The study found that while the percentage of female voters and women candidates fielded by political parties has increased in all three countries, the percentage of women representatives in national bodies has decreased. Nearly 800 respondents were reviewed including the Election Commission officials, police, contestants and families in urban and rural areas.
"Almost 90% of women in these countries feel that violence breaks their resolve to join politics," Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, representative of the UN Women's office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka said here. Almost 50% respondents felt that the decision on a woman's participation in electoral politics should be taken by her family, the study said.
Ninety% of respondents felt that women should not ignore domestic responsibilities and that violence against women within a family increases when women are unable to fulfil domestic responsibilities. Violence is rarely reported by the media and is largely denied by the political system, it added.
The study found that women in politics, especially those who are first generation politicians, face discrimination at all levels. "Dalits and young and new entrants in politics experience the maximum violence against them," said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research. The study recommended the expansion of political reservations for women -- with an extension of a minimum 33% at all levels.
Political parties should analyze manifestos and ensure that no tickets are given to those who have criminal cases, particularly against women. They should also include more women party members in central and selection committees and in parliamentary committees.