Women in north east region enjoy a status which is often termed as ‘better off’’ than their counterparts in other places of the country. The argument has been that in the north east the societies are egalitarian in nature and hence, social norms are not-so-orthodox in nature allowing women the scope and space to be more visible and mobile. However, a closer look the region and NEN’s experience reveal that women are in a disadvantageous position leading to different forms of vulnerabilities and abuse both within and outside the homes.

NEN responds to specific needs of women through fact finding processes and advocacy with the government and other agencies. In addition we organize trainings, workshops and publish materials for stakeholders to disseminate information.

NEN’s efforts in doing away with violence and discrimination have been a challenge but reaped benefits through public and policy advocacy. The National Crimes Records Bureau data from 2016 shows that at 131, Assam is second only to Delhi (160) in the highest rate of cognizable crimes against women in India. Forms of VAWG such as cruelty by husband or relatives are registered highest in Assam at 58.7%. Acid attacks (Assam ranks 2nd in the country) women victims of human trafficking (Assam ranks 5th in the country), rape (Assam ranks 8th in the country), and sexual harassment (one of the top 10 states in India with the highest rate) are also forms of violence occurring at a high rate in Assam. NEN’s study on domestic violence has drawn considerable attention, amongst the public, because it reveals different forms of violence faced by women and which goes unnoticed and unreported. The study highlighted that beating women was most common (83.7%) in the category of physical violence. Forced sexual intercourse was reported highest (34.1%) among the respondents when we asked women on sexual violence. Not just homes, women are not safe on the streets and public places too. NEN had initiated a survey which revealed that 74.3 % women face sexual harassment/violence in Guwahati city.

In Meghalaya, crimes against women are increasing at an alarming rate indicating the need for strengthening preventive measures. Statistics of the Meghalaya Police has revealed that reported crimes against women have increased in the last decade, from 138 cases in 2004 to 480 in 2014.[1] Rape, assault on women, and domestic violence are huge concerns for the society.

Iohlynti, a support centre for women established by North East Network in collaboration with the Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Meghalaya has also seen an increase in cases of violence against women. Till October 2015, there have been 293 cases of violence against women with 180 cases being that of domestic violence.

[1] Meghalaya Police, http://megpolice.gov.in/Crime/Crime_chart_Megh.pdf, (last seen on 17th November, 2015)