Women have always been considered to be the weaker sex. Right from the Vedic age to the age of 21st century, Indian women have never experienced the freedom that men have. They have always been considered subordinate to men and thus subjected to inequality. Their situation is quiet severe in terms of the violence they experience in marital home. Behind the closed doors of homes all across our country, women are being tortured, beaten and killed. It is happening in rural areas, towns, cities and even across all social classes. It is becoming a legacy being passed on from one generation to another. The term used to describe this exploding problem of violence within our homes is ‘Domestic Violence against Women’. The main cause of this is the patriarchal mindset of people. Men have always tried to overpower women. Generally women do not raise their voice against men because they have been taught to believe that they are the inferior sex. The possible reasons are many and are diversified over the length and breadth of the country.
According to the national survey, the statistics on violence against women in India are stark. Nationally, 8% of married women have been subject to sexual violence, such as forced sex, 31% of married women have been physically abused in a way defined as ‘less severe’, such as slapping or punching, while 10% have suffered ‘severe domestic violence’, such as burning or attack with a weapon. Also, 12% of those who report being physically abused also report at least one of the following injuries as a result of the violence: bruises , injury, sprains, dislocation or burns, wounds, broken bones or broken teeth and /or severe burns. With regard to emotional abuse, 14% of Indian women will have experienced this at some point in their lives.
There are many factors which lead to differences in the beginning and later take shape of domestic violence. These include: dissatisfaction with dowry, arguing with partner, refusing to have sex with him, neglecting in-laws, alcoholism of spouse, etc. Sometimes infertility in females also leads to their assault by their family members. At times, women are even sexually coerced by their partner themselves against their will. They are brutally beaten and tortured for not conceiving a male child. Incidents like ripping off a women’s womb for killing the female foetus when she disagrees for abortion.
A common Indian housewife has a tendency to bear the harassment she is subjected to by her husband and the family. One reason could be to prevent the children from the hardships if she separates from the spouse. Also the traditional and orthodox mindset makes them bear the sufferings without any protest.
Domestic violence has a severe impact on the lives of victimized women. They remain quiet, agonized and emotionally disturbed after the occurrence of the torment. Sometimes they may also commit suicide and the number of such cases is increasing. Some women leave their home immediately after first few atrocious attacks and try to become independent. Many such women come under the ambit of rescue-work by women’s welfare organizations. Some of them are forced into trafficking and pornography. Domestic violence not only affects the life of victim, but also the children of that victimized lady. It may have a deeper and gruesome impact in their mindset. They get used to such happenings at home, and have a tendency to reciprocate the same in their lives. It’s common, especially in rural homes in India which are victimized by the evil of domestic violence.
In India not much has been done to protect the rights of women. Women have been the victims of domestic violence since time immemorial, but the domestic violence act was passed by the parliament as late as 2005. Physical, sexual, economic, verbal and emotional abuses are covered by this Act. The Act provides women a right to stay in her matrimonial house, even if she doesn’t have ownership rights over the house. However her rights will extend only to her husband’s property not to the property of her in-laws. Also under the act a women has the right to ask for help or protection. A victim of abuse has rights to seek the help and services of police officers, protection homes, service providers, medical establishments and shelter homes. She also has a right to lodge a complaint under section 498 of IPC for ‘matrimonial cruelty’. However the Act is criticized on the grounds that it is not properly backed up. The government has not implemented the Act effectively. Many important factors such as appointment and training of protection officers, police officers, counselors and judicial officers have been ignored. Public Awareness about its provisions has not been ensured. As a result, sometimes domestic violence goes unreported because the victim doesn’t know whom to turn for help. In some cases, the violence is reported but no case is filed in the court. There is a big difference between the number of cases reported and the number of cases that are actually heard in the court.
The constitution of India treats both men and women at par. So, why should there be any discrimination? Why should they be called the ‘weaker sex’? Women have equaled men in all walks of life. We have women chief ministers, I.A.S. and I.P.S. officers, scientists, business magnates, advocates, doctor and what not. So, why do they bear such torture and harassment?
As responsible citizens we need to raise our voices. We need more stringent laws to curb domestic violence and protect the rights of women. There are several NGOs which are actively working to assist victims of domestic abuse. These NGOs need to spread awareness regarding the legal remedies that are available to them. They should encourage more and more women to come forward and report instances of violence so that necessary action can be taken against the culprit. Gender training should be made mandatory. The police and protection officers need to be sensitized. Last but not the least, the patriarchal mindset of the people has to be changed. Until and unless women are given due respect in society, no amount of laws will be helpful and no country can progress if due respect is not given to the women of that country.