Briefing Paper

Anandi Mani

Crimes against women are a persistent and even a growing problem in many developing countries. In India, research suggests that having female political representatives can be an effective tool to empower women in the battle against gender crime.

The Power of Political Voice: How Women in Politics Can Help Tackle Gender Crime Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty images.

Summary points:

  • Crimes against women are a persistent and even a growing problem in many developing countries. In India, research suggests that having female political representatives can be an effective tool to empower women in the battle against gender crime.
     
  • Although it also results in higher rates of documented crime against women, this reflects the fact that a greater number of gender crimes are being reported.
     
  • Police responsiveness to documenting and dealing with gender crimes is higher in areas with female politicians. Research shows that victims are more willing to come forward because they anticipate they are more likely to be heard.
     
  • Women politicians have the biggest impact on giving a voice to female victims when they are present at the local government level, where they live in greater proximity to them.
     
  • Reporting of crimes against women – especially domestic violence – is also a problem in developed countries, but institutional responses often discourage reporting and do little to reduce rates of domestic abuse.
     
  • Political participation rates for women generally are low in both developing and developed countries. Reserved seats, followed by legislative candidate quotas, may be the most effective ways of encouraging more women to enter politics.