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Introduction Freedom not only from violence but also from the threat of violence is the first indicator of rise in women's capacity for survival and empowerment. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states in its Preamble that violence against women is a product of the "unequal power relations" that characterize gender relations in all parts of the world. Violence against women is a universal reality but at the same time it is invisible. The UNDP's gender development index ranks India 108 among 174 countries in terms of gender equity. It is no coincidence therefore, that countries ranking highest on this index rank India 108 among 174 countries in terms of gender equity. Gender equity and social development are inseparably interlinked. Reducing any kind of disparity in nutritional and educational levels between the sexes is essential for realization of country's full potential. In addition to the above criteria another important criterion required to be able to create gender equity would be to do away with the fact of violence against women in particular with domestic violence which is widely prevalent in India but which unlike most other forms of violence against women is scarcely acknowledged as being widespread and is hardly ever treated as a crime. Instead, Indian society makes domestic violence invisible. Domestic violence is one of the few phenomena which cuts across all the cultural, socio-economic, educational, ethnic and religious barriers. This type of violence not only seems to increase even with rise in women's education but also prevails among the elite sections of the society. Violence by intimate family members is one of South Asia's darkest legacies. In a survey on violence against women in India, 94 percent of the cases involved an offender who was a member of the family. (Naved, 2004)

July 1
Madhya Pradesh Institute of Social Science Research
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