Political power has not insulated women from facing gender-based violence. A recent report by the United Nations (UN) has found that verbal-sexual abuse and character assassination of women are rampant in South Asia politics. Worse, Karnataka is one of the three states in India affected by such behaviour.
The study ‘Violence Against Women in Politics’ revealed that women from all parties in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi were victims of gender violence. In most cases, the perpetrators were men within their party, and fear prevented women from participating as contestants and voters.
Conducted between 2003 and 2013 in India, Nepal and Pakistan by UN Women and Centre for Social Research, New Delhi, the study had 250 respondents from India, including men and women in urban and rural areas, police, campaigners, Election Commission officials, judges, advocates, journalists and elected representatives.
“Women risk physical violence and harassment and women politicians and parliamentarians experience violence during election campaigns and constituency visits,” the study said and added: “They experience political isolation for not following party lines drawn by male party members.”