Crime against women remains a pervasive and distressing issue globally, cutting across socio-economic, cultural, and geographic boundaries. From domestic violence and sexual assault to harassment and trafficking, women face various forms of violence that not only violate their fundamental rights but also undermine their dignity and well-being. Despite significant efforts to address this scourge, it continues to persist, fueled by deeply rooted gender inequalities, patriarchal attitudes, and inadequate legal frameworks.

Keywords: Harmful traditional practices, Gender equality, Honor killings, Empowering women, Human rights.

Introduction: Female victimization

Consensus-building around social issues is extremely difficult, because it touches the identity of nations, communities and individuals. Discussion of social questions polarizes viewpoints and may seem to widen the gap between cultures. But in the end, the overruling social purpose concentrates our minds and enables us to link all cultural gaps-not because we want to go home with an agreed form of words, but because all of us, each in our own way, want to protect people’s lives.”

                                                                   –UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid

Crime against women is a persistent and deeply troubling issue in India that resonates profoundly and influences political discussions. Although it may not be directly tied to development, its effects on women’s progress are unmistakable. It hinders their full participation in national development efforts and obstructs their fair share in developmental programs. Despite limited research, historical records indicate that women in many parts of the world have often been viewed as physically weaker. Crimes against women represent an assertion of dominance and control, rooted in societal biases and primal instincts. It not only reflects the physical superiority of men but also manifests as the exertion of power and wealth over women, particularly those from marginalized communities. The affluent and powerful often exploit women of lower status, expecting them to fulfill various roles, including providing sexual favors. When confronted with refusal, acts such as rape, abduction, and molestation occur. Traditionally, crimes within families were rare in Indian society. However, contemporary realities demonstrate a departure from this trend. Crimes against women represent a pervasive and distressing phenomenon globally, encompassing various forms of violence, discrimination, and exploitation that disproportionately affect women and girls. These crimes, rooted in gender inequality and harmful cultural norms, pose significant challenges to the safety, dignity, and rights of women and hinder progress towards gender equality. From domestic violence and sexual assault to human trafficking and femicide, crimes against women manifest in myriad ways, often with devastating physical, psychological, and social consequences. Factors such as poverty, lack of education, and entrenched patriarchal attitudes contribute to the perpetuation of these crimes, creating a complex web of oppression that undermines the well-being and autonomy of women and girls. In many industrialized societies, despite official condemnation of gender-based violence, it continues to persist, such crimes are often implicitly sanctioned by messages conveyed through mass media. Furthermore, practices like female infanticide or selective abortion in regions where prenatal sex determination tests are available highlight the deep-rooted issues of gender inequality and violence against women. These practices reflect systemic biases and societal norms that perpetuate discrimination and violence against women from the earliest stages of life.

Research Methodology

This paper is descriptive in nature and relies on secondary sources for an in-depth analysis of crimes against women. Information from newspapers, journals, and websites has been utilized for this research.

Review of Literature:

“Harmful traditional practices” refer to specific forms of violence against women and girls that are defended or justified on the basis of tradition, culture, religion, or superstition by certain members of a community. While all violations of women’s and girls’ rights can be categorized as harmful practices, these particular forms of violence are often deeply ingrained in societal norms and customs, making them more challenging to eradicate. Examples include female genital mutilation, child marriage, honor killings, dowry-related violence, and acid attacks, among others. These practices not only violate the rights and dignity of women and girls but also perpetuate cycles of discrimination and gender-based violence. Efforts to combat harmful traditional practices require comprehensive strategies that address cultural attitudes, legal frameworks, and community engagement to promote gender equality and protect the rights of women and girls.Addressing crimes against women requires a multi-dimensional approach that involves legal reforms, robust law enforcement, access to justice, and comprehensive support services for survivors. It also necessitates efforts to challenge harmful gender norms, promote women’s empowerment, and foster a culture of respect and equality. While progress has been made in raising awareness and enacting legislation to combat crimes against women, much work remains to be done to eradicate these injustices entirely. By prioritizing the protection and rights of women and girls, communities and governments can work together to create safer and more equitable societies for all.

Female Genital Mutilation:

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is when parts of a girl’s genitals are removed for reasons that aren’t medical. It’s usually done to young girls, but sometimes to women too. It’s hard to know exactly how many girls and women have gone through this, but it’s estimated that between 100 and 140 million females around the world have been affected. FGM mostly happens in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and some Asian communities. It has also been reported in migrant communities in other places like North America, Europe, and Australia.

People who practice FGM often say it’s part of their culture and has been done for generations. Some believe it’s necessary to control girls’ sexuality or to keep them faithful in marriage. But FGM is really harmful. It can cause serious health problems, both immediately and in the long term. It can even lead to death. It’s also a violation of human rights. Women have the right to be safe from violence, to have control over their bodies, and to be treated with respect and dignity. So, it’s important to stop this harmful practice and protect girls and women from it. People who perform FGM often justify it by saying it’s a cultural tradition or that it helps control women’s sexuality. However, FGM is extremely harmful and has serious health consequences. It can cause immediate problems like bleeding, infection, and even death. Long-term effects include difficulties with childbirth, chronic pain, and psychological trauma.

Early And Forced Marriage:

Early and forced marriage is a concerning issue affecting millions of individuals, young girls, around the world. This practice robs individuals of their fundamental rights and exposes them to a myriad of physical, emotional, and social risks. Early marriage refers to unions where one or both spouses are below the legal age of marriage, often resulting in child marriages. Forced marriage, on the other hand, involves individuals being married against their will, often under coercion, pressure, or threat. The consequences of early and forced marriage are far-reaching. They include denial of education, limited economic opportunities, increased risk of domestic violence, early pregnancies with associated health risks, and perpetuation of cycles of poverty. Efforts to combat early and forced marriage involve a multi-dimensional approach. This includes legal reforms to raise the minimum age of marriage, community-based interventions to increase awareness about the harms of these practices, providing access to education and economic opportunities for girls, and offering support services for those at risk or affected.

Occurrence and prevalence: Early and forced marriage remains a significant concern, particularly in many parts of the developing world. This harmful practice affects millions of girls every year, robbing them of their childhood, education, and future opportunities. Globally, it is estimated that each year, around 12 million girls are married before the age of 18, with some being as young as 8 or 9 years old.

The prevalence of early and forced marriage varies widely by region, with some areas experiencing much higher rates than others. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, over 30% of girls are married before they turn 18, while in South Asia, the figure is around 25%. However, it’s important to note that this issue is not confined to specific regions and occurs in various cultures and communities around the world.

Several factors contribute to the persistence of early and forced marriage, including poverty, lack of education, gender inequality, cultural norms, and traditions. In many cases, girls are perceived as economic burdens on their families, and marrying them off at a young age is seen as a way to alleviate financial strain. Additionally, entrenched patriarchal attitudes often prioritize the interests of men and boys over those of women and girls, perpetuating harmful practices like early marriage.

Efforts to address this issue involve a multi-faceted approach, including legal reforms, education initiatives, economic empowerment programs, community mobilization, and raising awareness about the negative consequences of early and forced marriage. While progress has been made in recent years, much more remains to be done to effectively combat this violation of human rights and ensure that girls everywhere have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Is early and forced marriage legal? 

Indeed, early and forced marriage contravenes international human rights standards. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) explicitly prohibits marriage before the age of 18, acknowledging that children lack the maturity and capacity to make such life-altering decisions. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that marriage should only occur with the genuine and voluntary consent of both parties. When one of the individuals involved is below 18 years of age, it is often challenging to ascertain whether their consent is truly free and unrestricted, given their vulnerable position and limited autonomy. Therefore, early and forced marriage not only violates the rights of the individuals involved but also perpetuates cycles of gender inequality and discrimination.

Son Preference: Female Infanticide and Foeticide

Female feticide is “a practice that involves the detection and abortion of female fetus due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females.” This could be done at the behest of the mother, father, or under family pressure.

Female feticide and infanticide happen when families prefer to have boys over girls. In countries like India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, more boys are born than girls because some families choose to get rid of female babies before they’re born or after they’re born.

There are a few reasons why this happens:

  1. Cost: It’s seen as more expensive to raise a girl because families often have to pay a dowry when she gets married.
  2. Security: Some families believe that boys will take care of them when they’re old, so they prefer to have sons.
  3. Work: Boys are often expected to work and bring in money for the family, so they’re seen as more valuable.

But this practice has serious consequences. It leads to fewer girls being born, which can cause problems like child marriages, young girls being forced into marriage, and even violence against women. It’s a big problem that needs to be stopped to protect girls and ensure a better future for everyone.

Consequences of Female Feticide: 

The tragedy of female feticide in India extends beyond the loss of one million fetuses annually, with potentially disastrous consequences for society as a whole. However, the discourse surrounding this issue in India is often crude, with discussions either being completely ignored or framed solely in the context of concerns about the shortage of women for men to marry. As a result of this skewed gender ratio, women, often young girls who have just entered puberty, are forced into marriages where the bride’s value is determined by the groom-to-be. In many cases, brides are brought in from neighboring regions where the imbalance in gender ratio may not be as severe. This practice fuels a rise in child marriages, leading to devastating consequences such as child pregnancies and maternal health risks. Furthermore, when women become scarce, instances of rape, assault, and violence tend to become more prevalent. Numerous reports worldwide have demonstrated that societies where son preference is rampant often witness adverse effects on the health and well-being of female children. Thus, addressing the issue of female feticide and gender imbalance is not just a matter of reproductive rights but is crucial for safeguarding the rights and dignity of women and girls, as well as ensuring the overall health and stability of society.

Growing Menace of Female Feticide in India: 

The increasing problem of female foeticide in India is deeply concerning and reflects gender discrimination and the devaluation of women and girls. Female foeticide refers to the selective abortion of female fetuses, often driven by a societal preference for male children. Several factors contribute to the prevalence of female foeticide in India.These include son preference, which is deeply entrenched in cultural and social norms, as well as economic factors such as dowry obligations. Additionally, the widespread availability of ultrasound technology has made it easier for parents to determine the sex of the fetus and terminate pregnancies if they are female. The consequences of female foeticide are far-reaching and devastating. It exacerbates gender imbalance, leading to skewed sex ratios and a host of social problems such as increased violence against women, trafficking, and forced marriages. It also perpetuates cycles of gender inequality and reinforces harmful stereotypes about the inferiority of women.

Efforts to combat female foeticide require a multi-faceted approach. This involves strict enforcement of laws prohibiting sex-selective abortion, along with efforts to address the root causes of son preference such as poverty, lack of education, and gender stereotypes. Education and awareness-raising campaigns are crucial in changing societal attitudes towards gender and promoting the value and rights of women and girls. Moreover, empowering women through education, economic opportunities, and social support is essential in addressing the underlying factors driving female foeticide. Community involvement and advocacy efforts are also crucial in mobilizing support and fostering a culture that values and respects the lives of all individuals, regardless of gender. Ultimately, ending the practice of female foeticide necessitates sustained efforts at the individual, community, and policy levels to promote gender equality and uphold the rights of women and girls.

Honour Killings:

Honour killings are when someone is murdered, usually a woman or girl, by their family or community because they are thought to have brought shame or dishonour. This could be for reasons like refusing an arranged marriage, seeking a divorce, or being in a relationship that their family disapproves of. These killings happen because of cultural beliefs that prioritize family honour over individual rights and can occur in various parts of the world. They are a form of violence against women and a violation of their basic human rights. Stopping honour killings involves challenging these harmful beliefs, changing laws, and providing support to those at risk. Honour killings are a tragic form of violence where individuals, usually women and girls, are murdered by their own family or community in the name of preserving perceived family honour. The reasons for these killings can be varied and often stem from actions deemed to bring shame or dishonour, such as engaging in relationships deemed inappropriate, seeking divorce, or even being a victim of sexual assault. These killings are deeply rooted in patriarchal beliefs that prioritize family reputation over the lives and autonomy of women. They are often seen as a way to enforce control over women’s behaviour and sexuality, perpetuating cycles of violence and oppression. To combat honour killings, it’s crucial to address the underlying cultural norms and beliefs that justify such violence. This involves challenging gender inequality, promoting women’s rights and autonomy, and educating communities about the value of every individual’s life. Legal reforms and strict enforcement of laws against violence, including honour killings, are also essential to hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future occurrences. Additionally, providing support services and safe spaces for those at risk of honour-based violence is vital in ensuring their safety and empowerment. Ultimately, ending honour killings requires a concerted effort from governments, communities, and civil society to dismantle harmful patriarchal structures and uphold human rights for all.

The notion of “honor” killings is deeply rooted in the belief that women are objects or commodities, rather than human beings entitled to dignity and rights equal to those of men. In societies where these killings occur, women are often seen as the property of male relatives, symbolizing the honor of the men to whom they are perceived to belong. Their bodies are considered vessels for family honor, and the concepts of male and family status hold paramount importance. In communities where “honor” killings are prevalent, women are expected to uphold the family’s honor, and any perceived deviation from societal norms or expectations can result in brutal retaliation. Accusations or suspicions of behavior that could tarnish male or family status often lead to violent consequences for the woman or girl involved. Unfortunately, even unfounded allegations of dishonor against a woman are sufficient to prompt family members to take matters into their own hands, often with tragic outcomes. These killings underscore not only the systemic gender inequality prevalent in such societies but also the urgent need for cultural and societal shifts that prioritize the rights, autonomy, and dignity of women and girls. Addressing the root causes of “honor” killings requires challenging deeply ingrained patriarchal attitudes and promoting gender equality, respect, and human rights for all individuals, regardless of gender.


Protection Of Women: A Responsibility of All

Since a big conference in 1993 about human rights, people hoped that all countries would agree that women’s rights are important everywhere. They also wanted more countries to agree to a special treaty protecting women from discrimination. But, there’s still a lot of work needed for fairness because many countries don’t have strong rules to protect everyone’s rights. Some old cultural beliefs clash with these rules, making it hard to follow them.

Just having laws isn’t enough. We need programs to change the cultural beliefs behind harmful practices. Governments, groups helping people, and women’s organizations are teaching and talking to people to change ideas about what men and women should do. We also need to fix the bigger problems that stop women and girls from getting healthcare, going to school, finding jobs, and having money. While there’s been focus on what moms can do, now people are also talking about what dads can do to help families be fairer.

 “Changes in men’s and women’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior are necessary conditions for achieving the harmonious partnership of men and women. It is essential to improve communication between men and women on issues of sexuality and reproductive health, and the understanding of their joint responsibilities, so that men and women are equal partners in public and private life. Male responsibilities in family life must be included in the education of children from the earliest ages. Special emphasis should be placed on the prevention of violence against women and children”

What remains to be done?

The government, along with the United Nations and specialized agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, has played a crucial role in monitoring and implementing action plans aimed at eradicating harmful traditional practices. Recognizing that female genital mutilation is wrong and violates the rights of women and girls is a significant step forward. Nowadays, women are speaking out against it, but there is still much to be done to stop it completely. They also need to support organizations that promote equality and human rights.


Most women are not aware of their basic human rights in developing countries. Now its high time that women should take stand for their basic human rights. AWARNESS is the most important key to make them powerful land Empowering other women to create change and eliminate harmful traditional practices. If women constantly ignore these practices which are harmful for their well-being and even for their children too. They have to be strong powerful and literate in every aspect that affect them.



Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Agra