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1.1 Background of the study

Sex is often defined as the inherent biological distinction between males and females. Although the difference based on gender should ideally have no effect on the perception and treatment of individuals, it is still established and does have an impact (Lencha et al., 2019). Gender violence encompasses a broad spectrum of transgressions, including both physical and sexual acts, such as sexual assault within society and sexual abuse inside correctional facilities. Gender violence disproportionately affects women, manifesting in many ways within diverse societal situations globally (Agrawal, 2015). Rape is a kind of violent behaviour that exhibits a strong gender bias, with a significant majority of sexually violent offenders being males and a significant majority of their victims being women. Rape, which is widely recognised as the prevailing manifestation of violence directed against women, has historically permeated human societies and represents a significant transgression against a woman's physical autonomy, often constituting a kind of torment. The topic of sexual assault has a broader scope than the physical act itself, including several elements such as legal frameworks, societal norms, and political dynamics, among others. The phenomenon of rape has remained consistent in its physical manifestation throughout different temporal and geographical contexts. However, there have been notable shifts in societal attitudes, conceptualizations, and legal frameworks around rape (Alkan, 2021). Acts of violence perpetrated against women, including rape, are grave infringements against fundamental human rights. Advocates for women's rights have effectively exerted pressure on governments by contextualising gender-based violence within the framework of human rights. This approach compels governments to perform their commitments under international human rights law, specifically in terms of addressing and preventing such violence. Nevertheless, despite a considerable amount of violations, the act of rape continues to persist in many manifestations, inflicting immense suffering and fear onto women, perhaps leading to long-lasting consequences for their well-being (Barn & Kumari, 2015). Despite the United Nations' ongoing advocacy for democracy as the most effective means of safeguarding women's dignity and rights, India, being the world's biggest democracy, falls short in its efforts to ensure the protection of its female population.In the context of India, the crime of rape has shown a notable surge, as seen by studies highlighting a significant rise in incidents involving the sexual assault of women and young girls, particularly in recent times. Based on data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau in India (NCRB), the number of reported rape cases in India saw a significant surge of 873.3 percent between the years 1971 and 2011 (Maras, 2015). Nevertheless, scholars argue that the true prevalence of rape remains largely undocumented due to the significant number of unreported incidents (Panicker, 2015). Rape continues to be a significantly underreported crime globally, primarily attributed to a range of factors including the apprehension of retaliation by perpetrators, limited availability of effective remedies for victims, apprehension of scepticism, and the potential for public stigmatisation (Smith, 2015). Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate sexual violence against women in India.

1.2  Statement of the problem

Sexual violence is a pervasive phenomenon seen throughout many communities globally, but with variations in its conceptualization and understanding [Smith, 2015]. Sexual violence is characterised by the act of compelling another individual to engage in sexual intercourse against their will, engaging in sexual intercourse under duress or fear of the partner, or being coerced into performing degrading sexual acts. While sexual violence affects individuals of both genders, women tend to have a higher incidence of victimisation. Additionally, it is often observed that the majority of offenders in such situations are male, and often have a pre-existing relationship with the victim. Additionally, it is important to note that children are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to the issue of sexual assault, with females being especially susceptible to such harm inside the school environment (Alkan, 2021). Individuals who have been subjected to sexual violence encounter a range of adverse consequences including physical, social, mental, emotional, and sexual challenges. Sexual violence exacerbates the victim's sense of powerlessness and vulnerability, leading to detrimental psychological and social consequences. This may result in a significant decline in the victim's self-esteem and a heightened susceptibility to future instances of sexual violence. From a broader categorization, sexual assault leads to the decline of mental and reproductive well-being and the manifestation of behavioural, social, and sometimes lethal outcomes for the survivor. Furthermore, the anticipated outcomes include the manifestation of animosity and attribution of blame stemming from dread and anxiety in the immediate period. In the long run, individuals may experience sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms, anxious tendencies, obsessive thoughts, acute stress disorder, cognitive impairments, and a range of notable health complications [Jansen, Nguyen, Hoang, 2017]. Sexual violence and coerced sexual intercourse have been identified as significant contributors to a variety of gynaecological and reproductive health complications. These include but are not limited to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, vaginal bleeding or infection, myoma development, diminished sexual desire, genital irritation, dyspareunia, chronic pelvic pain, and urinary tract infections. Moreover, these experiences may give rise to immediate challenges like shock, dread, anxiety, panic, phobias, guilt, sleep disturbances, and eating disorders. Additionally, they might contribute to enduring psychological issues, such as anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, and even suicidal behaviour. Hence, the study seeks to investigate sexual violence against women in India.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate sexual violence against women in India. The specific objectives is as follows

i.          Assess the prevalence of sexual violence against women in India.

ii.        Assess the causes of sexual violence against women in India.

iii.      Examine the effects of sexual violence on women in India.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

i.          Assess the prevalence of sexual violence against women in India.

ii.        Assess the causes of sexual violence against women in India.

iii.      Examine the effects of sexual violence on women in India.

1.5 Resrearch Hypotheses

The hypotheses have been formulated for the study:

H0: There is a low  prevalence of sexual violence against women in India.

Ha: There is a high prevalence of sexual violence against women in India.

1.6 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the government and policy makers as they will be exposed to the havoc sexual violence has wrecked on both male and female thereby making laws that will combact the issue of sexual violence and also prosecute offender found guilty of sexual violence.

The findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.7       Scope of the study

The study focuses on sexual violence against women in India. Hence, the study will assess the prevalence of sexual violence against women in India, assess the causes of sexual violence against women in India and examine the effects of sexual violence on women in India. The study will be delimited to women resident in Delhi, India.

1.8       Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.9       Definition of terms

Sexual violence: a broad category of actions in which a person exerts their power and control over another person through unwanted or harmful sexual actions

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