Despite many achievements of the women’s movements and significant strides towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, violence has systemically been used by State and non-State actors to exclude marginalised women from participating as rights-bearing citizens in the public and private spheres. Research on violence against women remains inadequate if it does not take into account the causes and consequences of violence when gender identities intersect with other identities based on sexuality, disability, or occupation among women pushed to the margins of society, including in our collective imagination. This study investigated the hypothesis that women who are outside the mainstream of South Asian society, including lesbians, sex-working women and women with a physical or mental disability, suffer higher rates of violence and are often unable to seek and receive protection from State agencies. The study had three main objectives: to quantify levels of violence suffered by marginalised women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal and catalogue their experiences of violence; to review levels of service provision available for them; and to analyse the extent of political support (or opposition) for addressing violence against marginalised women.
A global literature review of peer-reviewed research focusing on violence against disabled women, lesbian women, and sex-working women revealed that the overwhelming majority of research had been conducted in North America. Only one of the studies identified was undertaken among sex-working women in Dhaka, Bangladesh, highlighting the gaps in the evidence from South Asia. This report is a first step towards filling in some of these gaps by looking at the intersection of marginalisation, gender, and violence against women in South Asia.