Domestic Violence on Women-A Growing Concern

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Pallavi Borgohain

Violence in whatever form it may be is never appreciable. In every moment of our life we come across violence in some or the other form. The newspapers, TV, and all other mass media abounds with reports of dowry atrocities, property disputes, Child abuse, kids beaten up by the teacher, husband and wife disputes, etc.,  to name a few. These are small examples of the plethora of instances. The actual scenario is even more horrifying. Most  of the incidents get unreported or unnoticed for the simple reason that no one is bothered.

Especially violence at the domestic level gets unchecked either because we are hesitant to report about it for the fear of being insulted in interfering on others affairs or just because we are hesitant to take the initiative of bringing it to the notice of the so called authorities or peace keepers. We fear to be the pioneer to bring about a reformation to the society. Whatever may be the reason things are becoming worse day by day. One of the gravest concerns of the present day is domestic violence, and if we talk about domestic violence women are the worse sufferers.

Every house has a story to tell but no one is ready to come forward to fight for the cause. From highly educated and well placed professionals to the timid house wife everyone is silently facing violence in one form or the other behind the closed doors. But they lack the courage to take a stand against the society. They submit to self and suffer in silence. An atmosphere is created where things are becoming worse day by day.

Women across our country, are being tortured, beaten and killed. It is happening in rural areas, towns, cities and in metropolitan cities as well. It is crossing all social classes, genders, racial lines and age groups. No matter it is the educated class or the illiterate, the story is same. It is as if becoming a legacy which is  being passed on from one generation to another. Modern generation talks about liberty and empowerment of women. But are we actually letting helping the women to come out of her culturally built exile? Not really, can we call it a civilised society where in very corner there are evidences of domestic violence! We can’t even call it a generation where women empowerment is at its peak.

If we ask what is domestic violence, then it can be just simply said that all the abuses a person be it women or child, young man or the grand old grandfather faces at home can be referred as domestic violence. Violence outside home is anyways is a different issue but if the home which is the most secured place for a person is not safe then where would a person find safety? The exploding problem of violence at home by the person with whom we are in a relationship is actually something more difficult to handle. Anyone can be a victim and a victimizer. This violence has a tendency to explode in various forms such as physical, sexual or emotional. It can be a male’s or a female’s atrocities towards another male or a female. Since times immemorial, domestic violence has been an intrinsic part of the society we are living in. However the intensity of the forms with change in the geographical location and culture has also been addressed. The after effects of different kinds of domestic violence and the possible remedies have been highlighted.

Especially, domestic violence on women is taking a serious turn nowadays.  Leading to suicides and unnatural deaths women are now being victimised at homes.  Being the weakest members of the society, ideally they ought to be protected, but in reality they are becoming the victims of the whims and fancies of the patriarch who in order to establish his own superiority disregards the feeling of his own partner. The reasons are obvious-the orthodox mindset of the society where they have their own perception that women are physically and emotionally weak than their male counterparts. Though time and again women showed their ability that they are no less than man, the reports of violence against them are much larger in number than against men. The possible reasons are many and are diversified as per the geographical and cultural barriers of the country. A report published by the United Nation Population Fund Report revealed that almost  two-third of married Indian women are victims of domestic violence and almost  70 per cent of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are victims of beating, rape or forced sex. The rate of domestic violence is more in states the northern states of India including Bihar, MP and UP.

The most common reasons of domestic violence in India is often more also a common cause of domestic fight is suspicion about infidelity and the strive for a male child. Often argument with the partners also leads to domestic violence. Another less but obvious reasons include refusal to have sex and childlessness. Sometimes, going out of the home without the partner’s permission,  lack of culinary skills , indulging in extra marital affairs, not looking after in-laws etc., also lead to domestic violence.  In some cases infertility in females invokes assault by the family members. The cases are not limited to the cities and urban areas alone but the rural areas too are not free from of domestic violence.   The greed for dowry, desire for a male child and alcoholism of the spouse are major factors of domestic violence against women in rural areas.  However in Urban areas the causes of domestic violence often takes shape due to ego issues. In urban areas there are many factors which lead to differences in the beginning and later take the shape of domestic violence. These include – more income of a working woman than her partner, her absence in the house till late night, abusing and neglecting in-laws, being more forward socially etc. Working women are quite often subjected to assaults and coercion sex by employees of the organization.

Whatever be the reason, violence is never a healthy sign for the civilised society. In an age when men are reaching such heights as walking on the moon and exploring the unknown at the universe, isn’t it a sign of barbarism to exploit women for dowry or being childless? Isn’t it a shame for the mankind to consider women as inferior to man? There have been gruesome reports of young bride being burnt alive or subjected to continuous harassment for not bringing home the amount of demanded dowry. Women in India also admit to hitting or beating because of their suspicion about the husband’s sexual involvement with other women. The Tandoor Murder Case of Naina Sahni in New Delhi in the year 1995 is one such dreadful incident of a woman being killed and then burnt in a Tandoor by her husband. This incident was an outcome of suspicion of extra marital affairs of Naina Sahni which led to marital discord and domestic violence against her.

Thus domestic violence on women is endless. The widows are tortured because they are thought to be responsible for the death of their husbands.  Remarriage is not encouraged for in most of the homes in rural areas. There have been cases of molestation and rape attempts of women by other family members in nuclear families, joint families or someone in the neighbourhood. At times, women are even sexually abused by their partners and one among ten women is a victim of marital rape. They are brutally beaten and tortured for not conceiving a male child. Often it covers news headlines where women is tortured when she disagrees to abort the female foetus.
Female foeticide and female infanticide continue to be a rising concern. A society cannot become good unless our citizens know how to respect each other’s feelings. We ought to recognise whether we are a prey to domestic violence?  Let us identify whether you are one among them. Do your closed ones call you names, insults you or puts you down, prevents or discourages you from going to work or school or seeing family members or friend? Whether he tries to control how you spend money, where you go, what medicines you take or what you wear. Does he acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful!  Then definitely it is violence against you. Also keep in mind that the people around you do not get angry with you during drunken situations and threatens you. Forcing  you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will and blaming  you for his or her violent behavior or telling you that you deserve it is also a form of domestic violence.

So what do we actually need to do to minimise the situation? We should not always just remain concerned about making news and gathering information about such cases, instead a real reformation is required to actually change our mindset. According to a latest report prepared by India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a crime has been recorded against women in every three minutes in India. Every 60 minutes, two women are raped in this country. Every six hours, a young married woman is found beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide.

Time has come that we change our attitude and no more ignore the issues of domestic violence. Literacy and awareness drives can bring about a reformation to the society. Before it becomes epidemic it is high time to recognise domestic violence as a public health issue.  There are several organizations all over the world – government and non-governmental organizations – actively working to fight the problems generated by domestic violence to the human community.

We need stringent laws to reduce domestic violence on woman. In 1983, domestic violence was recognised as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. Further the Domestic Violence Bill, 2001 was passed to protect the rights of women who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.  Unfortunately, at present there is no single law in the Indian Constitution which can strictly deal with all the different forms of ‘Domestic Violence’. Anyways, time is changing and so is the law. In 2005 the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 [ DVA, 2005 ] also has been passed though this act ensures the reporting of cases of domestic violence against women to a ‘Protection Officer’ , it is still insufficient to actually deal with the real situation.

Apart from government the NGOs, every individual can play a significant role in curbing domestic violence. Awareness and education is the need of the hour to actually bring about a reformation to the society. It is time to recognise women as an individual rather than a possession which can be used the way the owner wants. Reformation can only happen when we change the attitude towards the other half of the world population.