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'35 per cent women face physical violence in India'

Thirty-five per cent of women in India face physical violence while 10 per cent of them suffer sexual violence from their intimate partners at home, according to a UN study.

Thirty-nine per cent of men and women in India also think that it is "sometimes or always" justifiable for a man to beat his wife, the study carried out by UN Women -- a newly created body -- said in a report released here.

"It was found that 35 per cent of respondents in India have reported to be victims of physical violence by their intimate partners, while 10 per cent of respondents were victims of sexual violence by their intimate partners," it said.

Quoting findings of a survey undertaken by an NGO, the first flagship report of the world body said 68 per cent of the respondents felt that provocative clothing was an invitation to rape.

The UN body, which examined plights of women in countries across the world in the report, deplored minuscule three per cent representation of women in India's judicial system.

"India significantly lags behind the rest of the world, with women making up just three per cent of judges. Women judges are under-represented in most of the courts in the country," the global report said.

Releasing the report, Assistant Secretary General of UN Women Lakshmi Puri termed it as "disappointing" the meagre representation of women in India's judicial system saying gender equality was "key" for ensuring justice to the victims.

The report said "discriminatory attitudes among the police and judges mean that women are often reluctant to report crimes".

In the survey of 109 judges from district courts, high courts and the Supreme Court and with women lawyers and litigants to understand judicial perception of women who come to court, 68 per cent of the respondents said that provocative clothing was an invitation to rape, the first flagship report of the UN body said.

The report said "discriminatory attitudes among the police and judges mean that women are often reluctant to report crimes".

Asked about incidents of honour killing, Puri said such crimes were "most condemnable" and "nothing justifies" them.

She, however, complimented the Indian government for framing strong legislation like Domestic Violence Act and Hindu Succession Act that gives daughters the same inheritance rights as their brothers.

"India is a vibrant democracy with strong civil society. It has the potential and the opportunity to use laws to improve the lives of millions of women across the country," she said.

Talking about the South Asia region, the report said more than 80 per cent of women continue to rely on vulnerable employment "poorly" protected by law.

"Extending the protection of the rule of law to recognise these workers' rights is essential. A welcome step in this direction is that India has signed the Convention of Domestic Workers which contains a set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide," Puri said.

The report said more than half of the countries in South Asia have less than 50 per cent participation of women in labour force. Pakistan has the lowest with 22 per cent whereas India has a women labour force participation of only 33 per cent.

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