Cuttack: Terming as "disturbing" the overall national picture relating to women, Vice President M Hamid Ansari today said growing crimes and sexual violence against them was a major challenge and sought concrete steps to end gender disparity.
"Violence against women is a major challenge. Data from National Crime Records Bureau indicates the total number of crimes against women increased by 29.6 per cent between 2006 and 2010," Ansari said at the inauguration of the centenary celebrations of Shailabala Women's College here.
The 200506 National Family Health Survey also reported that one-third of women aged 15 to 49 had experienced physical violence, and approximately one in 10 had been a victim of sexual violence, he said.
Ansari said India֒s Gender Inequality Index value of 0.617 in 2011 places the country at 129 out of 149 countries and is reflective of the high gender inequality that is prevalent.
The vice president said the two matters of high priority were status of women in society and empowerment of women to enable them to play their role as equal citizens. "The two need to be considered together, sequentially, so that assessments and correctives are based on ground realities," he said.
Noting that India was blessed with remarkable women leaders who have left an indelible mark on society and polity, Ansari said "the paradox is that we are somewhat schizophrenic in our attitudes to women .. practice oscillate between deep respect and endemic display of brutality in word and deed."
"Much too often we fail to treat women as equals .. attitudes towards women are not reflective of gender parity. We still have a long way to go in ensuring full gender parity in all walks of life," the vice president said.