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Since 1956, the Parliament of India has passed at least 17 Acts to combat the increasing rates of violence committed against women. Despite harsher sentences, the promise of swifter trials, the creation of special courts and officers, over 3.7 lakh cases of crimes against women were registered in 2020.

The legal response has not led to a safer India for women. Why?

The Criminal Justice team at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy analysed over 20 years of data on such crimes, implementation of laws in all States and Union Territories, legislative debates, and did a deep dive into 5 years of judgements passed by the Mumbai Civil & Sessions Court to unpack the deep biases and ineffective systems currently in place.

For example, in a case before the Allahabad High Court, a woman alleged that her husband and his family members were demanding dowry; her father in law and brother in law demanded sexual favours from her; and her husband had sexual relations with her against her will. The Court deemed these allegations as ‘abhorring, full of dirt, filthy and venomous.’ Detailed findings from their research are available at

A series of videos we will share over the next few days will break these findings down for you. Watch the video above and watch out for more.

Read an earlier blog by Naveed Ahmad and Ayushi Sharma that analyses judicial attitudes towards cases of cruelty here.

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