United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM South Asia Office

Violence against Women

Staying Alive: Fourth Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2009 on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA)” was released by the Smt. Yasmeen Abrar Member, National Commission for Women and the first copy presented to Smt. Meira Kumar, Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The National Conference was organized by the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) on 19 December, at the India Habitat Centre in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Fourth in the series of ‘Staying Alive”, this report has been authored by Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) in collaboration with the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).





Large numbers of elderly and widowed women - with not much access to income, opt to come to Vrindavan, in search of the Lord or freedom, or to escape from the social economic and psychological pressures of widowhood. Do they exercise the right of making an informed choice or do they come because they have run out of options – that is something that this research by the Guild of Service may be in a position to answer.

This Report on poverty levels of widows in Vrindavan is based on the premise that poverty is multidimensional – it is not just hunger or lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. It is also, not knowing how to read and not having a job. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. In order to understand deprivation, it was important to assess core poverty. For this, focus was deprivation of food, clean potable water, shelter, sanitation, clothing, health and medical care. For understanding relative poverty, a survey was also done on literacy levels, access to decent livelihood, recreation, access to various pension schemes by both central and state governments and whether they had any savings.  A very important component of the Study was to understand their sense of dignity and the degree of social ostracism because economic deprivation of widows is consequential to the socio-cultural marginalization.  

The following recommendations have been made, based on the findings of the Study: 

Registration: Though there are a plethora of schemes for widows, destitute women and those who have been thrown out of their homes, women are neither aware of them nor do they know how to access them. There needs to be an office where the widows can register their presence in the Braj area.  

BPL Cards: Within 3 months of her registration, the government machinery should ensure that she gets pension as well as a Cash Voucher / BPL card.  

24X7 Ambulance: There should be ambulance facilities round the clock in each city of the Braj area 

Shelters and Security: More shelters need to be provided, whether it is rooms that they can take on rent or hostels that provide dormitory facilities as well as rooms that two widows can share. 

Sulabh needs to act: There is a lack of clean public toilets that women can access. So the municipality and district administration should focus on providing free public toilets. 

Employment Opportunities: NGOs and government should work towards improving their employment opportunities. As per the survey, tailoring, singing kirtans and candle-making are good sources of income. Traditionally, the Bengali women do kantha work and this skill could be revived. Both skill development and linking with markets will have to be the responsibility of NGOs and the Government. The women can also be trained to work as accredited social health activists (ASHAs), anganwadi workers and cooks for midday meals for school children. 

ITIs: To empower young widows between 18 – 40 years and equip them to stand on their own feet, in the budget this year, the Union Government announced it will fund their admissions to it is. It will bear the cost of their training and provide a stipend of Rs. 500 per month.  

Financial Training: NGOs can be involved in giving basic training to women on financial issues – how to access pension, open and operate bank accounts, how to set aside money for special occasions 

Responsibilities of Bhajan Ashrams: The Bhajan Ashrams should be involved in expanding their munificence to literacy and skill training classes for women. The large sums of money they receive could be better utilized by setting up schools for children of widows and other destitute women.

Read the full report


The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women seeks to raise public awareness and increase political action to end violence against women and girls all over the world. The campaign now has a visible presence in the Asia-Pacific as it was recently launched in Bangkok on 25 November 2010, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. A series of activities will follow the launch and aim to mobilise support and ensure that the campaign succeeds creating social change for women and girls of the Asia Pacific region.

A publication was produced in commemoration of the launch of Asia-Pacific UNiTE to explain the regional strategy. The document explains strategies for the campaign that will address violence against women and girls in the context of Asia-Pacific region. The regional campaign will focus on six key challenges in the region:

1.   Violence against women and girls in the name of ‘culture’ or religion

2.   Severe health impact of violence against women and girls

3.   Greater risk of HIV infection caused by the violence against women and girls

4.   Domestic violence including violence in non-marital intimate relationship

5.   Violence against women and girls worsened by conflict and natural disaster

6.   Violence against women and girls during migration, and trafficking

Click here to read the complete strategy document



Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls Initiative

Report On Baseline Survey Delhi 2010

Women in the national capital of Delhi feel unsafe in many public spaces, and at all times of the day and night. A joint research initiative was undertaken by the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Delhi, JAGORI, UNIFEM South Asia Office and UN Habitat. Based on a sample of 5,010 women and men collected during the period January-March 2010 by New Concept Information System, New Delhi, and JAGORI, this baseline survey analyzed information about the nature and forms of gender-based violence and/or harassment faced by women, the role of governing agencies and the police in safeguarding women’s rights and societal perceptions and attitudes to sexual harassment, to identify factors that create greater safety and inclusion for women in public spaces around the city.

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Publications / VAW

Be a Rights Advocate by Breakthrough, supported by n (o) v i b, UNIFEM and EMpower 

Description: The Human Rights Handbook is a guide to understanding the basic principles and standards of Human Rights. It includes a Human Rights Calendar and the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It provides a tool for community and youth leaders to understand and bring fundamental rights, values of dignity, equality, compassion and justice into our daily lives.

Be a Rights Advocate- Hindi Handout

Be a Rights Advocate- Hindi Manual

Be a Rights Advocate- English Handout

Be a Rights Advocate- English Manual



“Staying Alive: Third Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2009 on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA)” was launched by the Honorable Minister of Law and Justice Shri. M. Veerappa Moily on 13th November 2009 at the 3rd National Conference held in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.



 The Honorable President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the Chief Guest. The Conference was organized by the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Honourable, Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of Women and Child Development, Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson, National Commission for Women and Ms. Anne Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office graced the occasion. Ms. Indira Jaising, Project Director LCWRI and Additional Solicitor General of India presented the report. Dr. Ravi Verma, Regional Director of ICRW was also present.    

Third in the series of ‘Staying Alive”, this report has been authored by Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) in collaboration with the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).  

Staying Alive Third M&E Report 2009.pdf


The Handbook on Law of Domestic Violence has been authored by Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) and supported by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women /UNIFEM. Aimed at assisting the judiciary, it was released by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan on 29th March, 2009, at Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre.

Description: The Handbook on Law of Domestic Violence is an attempt to provide a tool for judges towards uniform and proactive implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA) to ensure that the promise and goal of promoting and fulfilling women’s human rights is upheld. The Handbook not only acts as a guide with regard to the PWDVA and collates the best practices that have emerged from domestic and international experiences, but also provides an overview of the gamut of laws, procedures, and the jurisprudence that impact on a case of domestic violence. The idea is to provide a one-stop tool, which can be used for reference by members of the judiciary in dealing with cases of domestic violence.  

Although the Handbook is intended primarily for members of the judiciary, it is also an important reference guide for legal academicians, lawyers and relevant authorities. The Handbook has been inspired by the rich practice and framework of the existing Bench Manuals intentionally but is based on the experiences of the Indian legal system and the particular needs of women facing domestic violence in India.  

For more information, please contact wri.delhi@lawyerscollective.org



By Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) in association with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India & National Commission for Women

Supported by United Nations Trust Fund to end violence against women/UNIFEM 


The Protection of women from Domestic violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) was brought into force on October 26, 2006. This Manual for PWDVA Protection Officers is intended to provide comprehensive, step by step guidance to Protection Officers (Pos) on how best to fulfill their duties under the Act, from the time that they are approached by an aggrieved person through to the litigation stage, including their Court directed duties.

Written especially for predominantly non-legal readership and on LCWRI’s extensive legal knowledge of and practical experience with the PWDVA, the Manual is essential training resources for Pos, empowering them to implement the law effectively, resourcefully and in a manner consistent with their legal obligations and the law’s overall objective of human rights and gender equality 

This Manual shall also be useful to the police, service providers, medical facilities, shelter homes and other civil society groups working on domestic violence, as well as to women seeking resource to the law.



Domestic Violence - You Can End It! by Breakthrough, supported by UNIFEM, N(o)vib (Oxfam Netherlands), Ford Foundation, Empower and American India Foundation  

Description: This booklet seeks to ensure that people know and understand that domestic violence is not a private matter, and that abusive behaviour is unacceptable.



Baseline Survey on Domestic Violence and HIV/ submitted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) to Breakthrough, supported by the UNIFEM managed UN Trust Fund (UNTF) to Eliminate Violence against Women

Description: The Centre for Media Studies joined Breakthrough to undertake this research on existing knowledge around domestic violence, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDV Act) and HIV/AIDS. It monitors the progress of the three-year Campaign launched by Breakthrough, as part of the UNTF initiative, to reduce domestic violence and stigma and discrimination faced by Women Living with HIV/AIDs (WLHAs). The Study has been conducted in the three implementation states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.



“Staying Alive: Second Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2008 on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA)”

was launched on 14th November 2008 at a National Conference held in New Delhi. Supported by UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office, this is the second in the series of Staying Alive. The report has been compiled and written by the Lawyers Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI). Data for this report was compiled in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, using data from Protection Officers to observe their role in facilitating women’s access to justice. The 2008 Report has collated information on the establishment of infrastructure under the PWDVA, examining whether it is adequate in meeting the objective of the law and mapping emerging and sometimes, ad hoc practices that have been adopted to fill in the silences of the law.

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“Staying Alive; 1st Monitoring and Evaluation Report; 2007 on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act  (PWDVA)”
was released on 26 October 2007 at the National Conference to Commemorate the PWDVA. This report has been compiled by the Lawyers Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative (“LCWRI by analyzing data collected from the Office of the Chief Justice of India, the Ministry of Women and Child Development and from individuals/ organizations working on the issue of domestic violence from across the country. This report attempts to indicate emerging trends observed in the implementation of the law and highlight best practices adopted in different states. The compilation of the report and the national conference should be regarded as the first steps towards evaluation and monitoring and should become an integral component in the implementation of this law.


Domestic Violence Study (PDF)


Frequently Asked Questions on PWDVA 2005



The Booklet gives a snapshot of the inception and progress of the White Ribbon Campaign in Nepal. It provides an at-a-glance information on the involvement of men and boys in working towards ending violence against women.

The booklet has been produced by the UNIFEM Programme Office in Nepal, in collaboration with the MenEngage Alliance Nepal Country Group Network, with technical support by Interface Nepal. The founding members of MenEngage are: The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Samanata, Pro Public & Save the Children Alliance



Figure No.1: Cover page of Advocacy toolkit

Picture shown in Fig number 1 is the cover page of advocacy toolkit used for mass awareness on various issues related to VAW, HIV, legal provision and intersection between VAW and HIV. This toolkit also contains facts and data of VAW and HIV status in Nepal. Inside the toolkit essential information related to VAW, HIV, emphasizing intersection between VAW and information on legal provision on VAW and HIV is provided.  

At the back of the cover page, the names and addresses of the organizations have been provided, where women can seek services related to VAW/HIV and legal services.


Figure No.2: Content table of toolkit

Figure number 2 contains table of contents, which includes various topic in the advocacy toolkits.

1. Violence Against Women

2. Situation of HIV and AIDS in Nepal

3. Intersection between VAW and HIV

4. Concept of HIV and VAW

5. Legal Provision regarding VAW in Nepal

6. Legal Provision regarding HIV and AIDS in Nepal


Spirituality, Poverty, Charity brings Widows to
Vrindavan is a study conducted by Ms. Usha Rai for the Guild of Service, with UNIFEM support.  The principal question, which it seeks to answer is - why do widows, particularly from West Bengal, continue to come to Vrindavan, despite over a decade of concerted work by the Central Government, the Uttar Pradesh Government and NGOs.


The Study notes that one of the major factors for this is because money is more easily available in Vrindavan than in the villages of West Bengal. Some of the other important reasons cited by the women are as follows:  

  • 41 per cent said they came to the city because it was a place of God; there were a large number of ashrams; and many of them had Gurus there or family to support them initially

  • 20 per cent said they were alone in the village and had no one to help them

  • 14 per cent said they had problems with people at home

  • 8 per cent said they were in Vrindavan because of their low economic status and poverty

  • Just one woman said she had come to Vrindavan to escape poverty as well as sexual abuse

Nothing to go back to

  • 82 per cent said their husbands had left no savings

  • 65 per cent said they did not even have property

  • Only 50 per cent of those who had property, which in most cases was a hut, were able to access it

  • The majority of those who did have property gave it to their children or it was grabbed by their children

  • 14 per cent said the property had been taken by their in-laws. Whatever jewellery they had, was either given away, or grabbed or sold. Most came to Vrindavan as paupers

  • 30 per cent travelled to Vrindavan without a ticket

  • 90 per cent said they did not wish to go back to their villages in Bengal

  • 15 per cent said they did not want to be a burden on their families in the village

  • 4 per cent said they go home once in a while but prefer to live in Vrindavan

The Study makes the following Recommendations

  • Set up more rehabilitation homes in Vrindavan and West Bengal with food, medical care and other facilities

  • Make available information on widow’s pension, amount of pension and how to access it in West Bengal, through better advertizing, including through posters and hoardings in rural Bengal and at railway stations and bus stops

  • Issue photo identity cards to all widows in Vrindavan and Brajdham

  • Provide, below the poverty line ration cards, health cards and pension to all widows

  • Government should dialogue with trustees of Bhajan Ashrams, who have enormous wealth and clout, to run schools/ support education of widows’ children and provide health care 

  • Rehabilitate all widows living on the streets and at the Ghats. Provide for night shelters

  • Religious leaders should encourage and support widow remarriage

  • Set up special health care facilities in Vrindavan and Brajdham for widows and destitute women. They should not be turned away from hospitals and medical centres.

  • Facilitate skill training for young widows in West Bengal to make them independent

  • Registration of marriage should be made compulsory to check child marriages in Bengal

read more....


A Life Free of Violence is our Right!


The publication encapsulates successful strategies that have been adopted by grantees of the UNIFEM managed, UN Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women.


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Support Services to Counter Violence against Women in
Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat – A Resource Directory


Eye Reveal: A Catalogue, captures the process and experiences of the initiative ‘Eye Reveal’, which was shared with diverse stakeholders through an Exhibition, which was inaugurated by Mrs. Gursharan Kaur Singh, wife of the Prime Minister of India, at the Gallerie Romain Rolland of the Alliance Francaise of Delhi. She also released this Catalogue, prepared by UNIFEM and Muktangan, which makes available the Exhibition to a wider public.

Description: The Catalogue, encapsulates the Exhibition and the stories, which reflect the perspective that the participants, i.e. 150 university students of colleges of Delhi University, developed in the course of six months of intense involvement with different stakeholders working towards addressing gender based violence. Conceptualized and guided by eminent artist, Mr. Probir Gupta, the publication shares this journey in the publication. The journey involves, the creation of a platform through which the participants, interacted with NGOs and community groups working on the issue of trafficking, violence, HIV/ AIDs and masculinity. It involves their interaction with women and men from diverse walks of life and with women and children affected by violence, in an attempt to understand the impact of violence on their minds and lives. The Catalogue adds to the knowledge and resources currently available on violence against women, bringing new insights on the issue, and catalyzing increased involvement of youth in creating a more violence-free world.   

Download (Size 4.05 MB)


The Special Cell for Women and Girls : Documenting effective interventions and strategic alliance between Maharashtra Police and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

The special cell is a unique effort in a strategic collaboration between the State and an academic institution, in that it provides a vital connection between citizens and the state that is expected to protect them. From one centre in the heart of Mumbai, to ten cells in Police Stations across the state, the Special Cell has grown through the support and involvement of all its stakeholders.

The Special Cells were initiated by the Tata Institute for Social Sciences in 1984 for focused work in the area of violence against women with an objective of facilitating spaces for women and children within the Criminal Justice system. These cells were later up-scaled by UNIFEM and Ford Foundation in 2001 to ten police stations in the state of Maharashtra. In the last two decades the Special Cell has provided services to countless women; been a training site for young social work students and the Police and for research; and most importantly it has shown that a strategic alliance with police can make a significant impact on women’s search for support and justice. This documentation illustrates the journey of the Special Cell, and highlights how it has been effective in achieving the aims of social justice for women.


Walking Wisdom : A Creative Learning Experience

Developed by SAKSHI this manual in the words of Naina Kapur is “at one level about judges, judicial education and teaching. At a deeper level it is about change and transformation.” (The meeting of two personalities…… is like the contact between two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed” – Carl Jung)

The binder is an easy “do it yourself” toolkit divided in to 2 parts. It is accompanied with several visual tools that have been compiled into eight CDs. An interdisciplinary process is the hallmark of this programme.

Part A: Knowledge – this part explores a variety of new ideas and information to help enhance our relationship with our self and others. It draws upon diverse experiences and voices and reveals the many dimensions of truth.

Module# 1: Understanding Women’s Reality

Section 1.1: Evaluating the Reality; Section 1.2: Questioning the Normal; Section 1.3: Impact of Inequality; Section 1.4: Understanding Equality

Module# 2: Perceptions

Section 2.1: Myths and Stereotypes; Section 2.2: Judicial Perceptions

Part B: Application – Knowledge comes to life if it is practiced through conscious action. This section presents “real-life” situations that will help users bring new dimensions of knowledge to their decision making.

Module # 3: Judicial Decision Making

Section 3.1: Tools to Equal and Fair Decision Making; Section 3.2: Applications of Equality Principles

Each part follows a clear format :

Introduction – a brief description of the concept being explored

Learning Objectives – The outcomes sought to be achieved

Components – Specific tools to be sued in the given section

Materials Required – Flip charts, board markers and other specific material required to conduct the exercises

Process: Details the methodology

Recommended Length – The recommended duration for a particular exercise. The time may vary according to participant response.

This process has been supported by UNIFEM South Asia, CIDA, UN Trust Fund in support of actions to eliminate violence against women, Ford Foundation, Mac Arthur Foundation and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust

For more details check: www.sakshipaths.org


Violence against Women in South Asia - A Regional Scan of Efforts to End it, including Scans on Violence against Women in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.  The South Asia and the India scan prepared by Ms. Anuradha Rajan, and the scans for Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan prepared by Prof. Zarina Rehman Khan, Ms. Bandana Rana and Ms. Yasmin Zaidi respectively. Edited by Ms. Ritu Menon.

Description: The scan adds to UNIFEM SARO’s learning on the issue and provides an updated reference point for future efforts. It includes a review of current policies, achievements, challenges, key actors, and future potential of programmes to end violence against women. While focusing on the main legal, political and human rights achievements, it is attentive to emerging trends and future issues related to ending gender-based violence.


Touch an Exhibition is a pictorial experience put together by Mr. Probir Gupta, an eminent artist based in Delhi, in collaboration with students from 16 schools in Delhi, supported by UNIFEM and Zonta International.

Description: This is a publication of the visual journey into the minds of children on violence against women (VAW) during the collective passage undertaken by Mr. Probir Gupta, and the youth from 16 schools in Delhi, led by UNIFEM during the “Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence” in 2003. “Touch” brings alive the exhibition put up at the Visual Arts Gallery of the Habitat Centre in New Delhi. It includes: reproductions of the paintings executed by the children, post the initiative’s process of sensitization on issues of VAW; excerpts from UNIFEM interviews of the students and their perceptions on violence against women; brief notes on facts and figures related to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women; a list of organizations working on VAW and related issues; and a list of relevant readings.


“My Voice Shall be Heard – Muslim Women in India 2003, by Dr. Syeda Saiyidain Hameed of Muslim Women’s Forum

Description: The Report is a study of Muslim Women based on public hearings conducted in many parts of the country. It is in the nature of a periodic assessment since the Report, “Voice of the Voiceless: Status of Muslim Women in India” was written by the author as a Member of the National Commission for Women in 2000.  It strives to trace the progress made vis-à-vis the rights of Muslim Women since 2000, create awareness of the condition of the Muslim Women, refocus attention of civil society on core issues related to their lives, and promote awareness and re-education.


Violence, Law and Women’s Rights in South Asia This research leading to this publication was supported by UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office and UNICEF ROSA , edited by Professor Savitri  Goonesekere and published by SAGE Publications. It includes an overview by Professor Savitri  Savitri  Goonesekere and contributions by Ms. Kirti Singh in India, Ms. Hina Jilani, Ms. Shahla Zia and Mr. Eman M. Ahmed in Pakistan, and Dr. Mario Gomez & Ms. Shyamla Gomez in Sri Lanka. 

Description: This book consists of three South Asian country studies of the legal system’s response to violence against women, and an overview of law and legal controls in South Asia. The three country studies presented are from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.