Domestic violence is a reality in many families around the world. As I come from a relatively safe background, I am horrified by the fact of domestic violence. I used to think that this was a problem mainly in developing regions and among the uneducated, but it was corrected once I became sensitive to the realities on the ground. According to global estimates published by the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women worldwide has suffered physical and / or sexual violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence is not something that occurs merely in patriarchal structures, if I may add harshly, but also in so-called progressive cultures. It is as big a problem in the United States as it is in India, although the levels and types of interventions may differ. Domestic violence is a sad fact because it reveals the lack of respect and honor that is given to women not only in society at large, but within the confines of their own homes.
The National Office of Criminal Records reveals that a crime is committed against a woman every three minutes; a woman is raped every 29 minutes; a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and a case of cruelty by the husband or relative of the husband occurs every nine minutes. This occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act 2005. The Act provides a definition of domestic violence that is comprehensive and includes all forms of physical, emotional, verbal, sexual violence. and economic violence, and covers both actual acts of violence and threats of violence. Despite having such systems in place, domestic violence still continues its demonic existence within families.
In the case of domestic violence, the victim is usually the woman who is perceived as subordinate to her male counterpart. According to the National Family Health Survey – 4 (2016) conducted by the Union Ministry of Health, one in three women, from the age of 15, has faced domestic violence in various ways. The survey reveals that 27 percent of women have suffered physical violence since the age of 15 in India. These are quite disturbing figures. It does not matter that these cases are more common in rural areas than in urban areas. The concern here is that something as degrading and barbarous as this is happening even in our country. The inclusion of India, according to a Thomson Reuters report, as “the fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women does not help our cause. No country is free from flaws, but for a country that worships deity women … it doesn’t speak highly of us.
When we think of domestic violence, we are prone to think that husbands are the main perpetrators. While this is true to some extent, you are not the only offender. 31 percent of married women, according to the survey, have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence from their spouses. Although married women are prone to receiving problems mainly from their husbands, in addition to other family members such as in-laws, single women have also reported physical violence mainly from their mothers or stepmothers (56%), fathers or stepparents (33%), sisters or brothers (27%) and teachers (15%).
As if this wasn’t enough to sour the mood, pollsters discovered a chilling fact: women in India support domestic violence! Yes, you read that right. The data shows that women between 40 and 49 years old were the ones who most supported domestic violence, with 54.8% agree. The percentage justifying abuse is surprisingly only marginally lower among younger women. 47.7% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 agreed with domestic violence. 54.4% of rural women agreed with domestic abuse, while 46.8% of urban women supported it.
Take a minute. Go over the numbers again and think about what they have to say. The Indian family is definitely not a healthy place. Almost 50% of families are affected by domestic abuse, whether by husbands, parents, in-laws, siblings, children or other relatives. This made me see the serious situation in which the women of our country find themselves. For most of my life, domestic violence was something I read about in the newspaper or saw on television. But after listening to a colleague who shared her experience of domestic abuse, I couldn’t ignore her ugly existence anymore.
This got me thinking: How can we prevent domestic abuse from happening? Education has a critical role to play in alleviating this grim situation. The main distinguishing factor in the acceptance of domestic violence is education, much more than income or even age. The report indicated that cases of domestic violence, including physical and sexual violence, drop dramatically with schooling and education. Cases of physical or even sexual violence are significantly lower among the educated than among the uneducated. But this alone is not enough.
A legal framework is established to address the problems of domestic violence, but these problems often do not reach the courts or even the police due to the culture of conservatism and shame attributed to them. However, women must be aware that there is a strong arm of the law behind them. Many NGOs work around the clock to ensure that women’s rights are upheld and their complaints heard. Domestic abuse is a stain on the character of any society and concerted efforts must be made to erase it completely. The road ahead is tough and the battle has already begun. But have soldiers prepared for war? The secondary effects of domestic abuse, as well as those of external interventions, are numerous and threaten the general fabric of the family and society, but justice must be done. How and by whom are important and pressing questions, but if each can take the bold step to prevent and / or address abuse appropriately, they would be playing a lot to restore the integrity of the character of society.