91% voters want action to end the rape epidemic: Survey

New Delhi, April 4: A new MDRA/Avaaz poll released recently reveals that 91% of Indian voters wants the new government to prioritise ending violence against women and 85% are more likely to vote for a politician who commits to specific policies to stop violence against women, as set out in a ‘Womanifesto' of demands created by prominent leaders of women's movements across the country.

The poll, which can be seen here found:

1. 94% are in favour of the new Indian government launching a public education campaign to tackle the causes of violence against women.

2. 99% of Indians are concerned about the level of violence faced by women in India and more than 1 in 2 women in India feel unsafe.

3. 87% are concerned about discrimination against women in India.

4. 75% think that the electoral promises made by politicians to tackle problems faced by women so far are inadequate.

5. 91% see violence against women as a priority in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections -- with respondents ranking violence against women their number two priority after corruption and ahead of employment, cost of food, poverty, electricity bills, education, pollution and water.

6. 85% say are more likely to vote for a politician who commits to specific policies to stop violence against women.

Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director said: "India's voters demand an end to the epidemic of rape and will only cast their ballots for politicians they believe can bring the cure. The prescription is simple -- the BJP and other parties should support the Womanifesto of six simple demands that will help free women from violence and persecution."

Nearly 700 million will cast their votes with women's rights in mind

The poll asked about the Womanifesto, a 6-point plan created by a group of over 70 civil society movements, organisations and eminent individuals. It calls on political parties to commit to public powers which finally tackle violence against women and bring freedom, safety and equality to women and girls. In a bold move, the AAP has already listened to voters and publicly committed to these important principles. The BJP and Congress have yet to declare their position.

Karuna Nundy, Supreme Court Advocate and co-founder of the Womanifesto said: "It's time for politicians to stop taking voters for granted. These stats speak of the gap between party promises and the way hundreds of millions of citizens are going to cast their ballot. The AAP has committed to

Womanifesto, the CPI (ML) have included it in their own Manifesto, other MPs have publicly committed and are working to bring their parties on board -- now all eyes are on the BJP and others to see how much they will truly commit to taking down patriarchy, to building a new India."

The Womanifesto sets out a clear agenda for change in 6 areas:

1. Educate for equality: Comprehensive, well-funded and long-term public education programmes to transform the culture of patriarchy and gender-based discrimination.

2. Make laws count: Get each government agency to produce a detailed and funded action plan to end violence against women and increase the number of judges to 40 per million population.

3. Put women in power: Ensure political empowerment of women by approving the Women's Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha.

4. Police for the people: Change service rules to recruit, promote and penalise police and prosecutors based on gender metrics.

5. Swift, certain justice: Improve the laws to end violence and discrimination against women and sexual minorities.

6. Economic flourishing: Ensure dignified and secure employment for women, with equal pay for equal work.

The founders of the Womanifesto include economist and Padma Bhushan Awardee Devaki Jain, Supreme Court Advocate Karuna Nundy, Kamla Bhasin of Sangat South Asia, Suneeta Dhar of Jagori and others. It's been also endorsed by actresses Kalki Koechlin and Shabana Azmi, as well as senior business leaders such as Shalini Sarin, Vice President of Schneider Electric. It has been launched in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Assamese in rural communities and colleges, policy meetings and urban bastis.

The global advocacy organisation Avaaz, with over 860,000 members in India, is also supporting the Womanifesto through an online campaign where citizens are directly asking political parties to commit to the Womanifesto. Over the past days, many have sent messages on Facebook and Twitter and made phone calls to political parties' offices to urge them to endorse it. The Womanifesto and online campaign can be seen here: www.avaaz.org/womanifesto2014

OneIndia News

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