Domestic Violence against Women in India a painful experience of Human Rights

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Domestic Violence against Women in India: a painful experience of Human Rights scandal Bikash Bhargab Sarma Asstt. Professor of Philosophy Gurucharan College, SilcharAbstractDomestic violence is one of the most increasing crimes in India. It includes sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimation; stalking; passive abuse and also economic deprivation. In cases pertaining to domestic violence, male adults often misuses his authority and power to control another using physical or psychological means. But, in most cases these are considered as “internal” or “family” matters which should be better resolved within the boundaries of the house. There are several laws to deal with the phenomenon of violence against women. Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act-2005 are important amongst them. But, these Acts also suffers from inadequate resource allocation and implementation. So, a systematic effort has to be made to listen to the voices of grass-roots women and survivors of domestic violence, and to incorporate solutions have to offer. Key words- Domestic violence, male power, family matter, women’s right, PWDVA. Introduction: The modern Indian women in the present scenario are stepping ahead towards the advance world. Today the country has witnessed advancements in all fields. But, unfortunately bias against a girl child and women in general is still prevailing in Indian society. It is a common saying in India, “Ladka marey kambakth ka; Ladki marey bhaagwaan ki” (fool who loses his male child and the fortunate one who loses a girl child.)Domestic violence against women In India, domestic violence is one of the most under-reported crimes against women. It could be in form of emotional harassment, physical injury or psychological abuse perpetrated by one of the family members to another. It is a nationwide phenomenon mainly targeting women. In cases pertaining to domestic violence, male adults often misuses his authority and power to control another female using different physical or psychological means. Domestic violence not only includes physical violence i.e. beating, torture, causing physical injury, but also includes sexual abuse of females i.e. rape, including having sex with the female partner in domestic relationship without her consent; forcing to view pornography or obscene material; any act of sexual nature to humiliate or degrade or violate her dignity; child sexual abuse. It also includes verbal and emotional abuse i.e. name calling; using bad or abusive language for the female or her kith and kin; taunts; emotional blackmail. It also includes economic abuse i.e. forcing to quit a job; depriving from financial means and bare necessities of life; disturbing at the place of employment; forcing her to meet any unlawful demand for dowry. Domestic violence could also take place in subtle forms like making the person feel worthless or not giving the victims any personal space or freedom. But, the problematic aspect is cases of domestic violence are very rarely reported. These kind of pertinent issues are considered as “internal” or “family” matters which should be better resolved within the families. The victims are often abused and neglected. The innocent minds of victim women are adversely affected with the incidents of domestic violence which are most frequently occurring in the society. According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO), sexual trafficking, female feticide, dowry death, public humiliation and physical torture are some of the most common forms of domestic violence against women in India. In recent years, there has been a greater understanding of the problem of domestic violence, its causes and consequences.Reasons for increasing Domestic violence against Women It is found that up to 45% of married men acknowledged physically abusing their wives, according to a 1996 survey of 6,902 men in the state of Uttar Pradesh.1 Nearly two in five (37%) married women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their husband. One in six (16%) of married women have experienced emotional violence by their husband. 16% of never married women have experienced physical violence since they were 15 year of age, generally by a parent, a sibling or a teacher. There is no one single factor to account for violence perpetrated against women in India. There are so many factors connected to this vital issue. A few major factors are mentioned here-1. Most of the joint families in India disintegrated into nuclear families, resulting into lack of guidance, control, and affection to newly married women. 2. In some of the cases the husband dominates their wife which also causes irritations. In a situation, when the wife is also employed, it becomes more serious. 3. In some situation, the husband and wife start doubting about extra-marital relations. Doubting one another between husband and wife again cause domestic violence in our family.4. There are some internal issues which are so personal for a family. But sometimes, interference of the parents of the girl in the husband’s family develops domestic violence. 5. If the husband is facing a severe lose in his business or service, he asks the wife to make arrangement of money from her parent’s house. Failing to do this again causing domestic violence.6. Many of the women in India faces the problem form their drinker husband. Drinking habits of the husband make the life of the women a hell. This also results into domestic violence. But, in these situations only a few strong women have the moral courage to stand against men but others suffer silently. Few abused women seek help from any institutional source such as police, medical institutions, or social service organizations. Only 2% of abused women have ever sought help from the police.Question of human right and a threat of violence Women and children are often in great danger in the place where they should be safest, within their families. For many ‘home’ is where they face a regime of terror and violence at the hands of somebody close to them- somebody they should be able to trust. Their human rights are denied and their lives are stolen from them by the ever-present threat of violence. The act of Domestic violence towards women is a health, legal, economic, educational and above all a human rights issue as well as an illegal act under Indian law. Perhaps the most crucial consequence of violence against women and girls is the denial of fundamental human rights to them in their own families and also outside. Domestic violence against women in India is definitely a human rights scandal. The experience or threat of violence affects the lives of Indian women everywhere, cutting across boundaries of wealth, race, and culture. Role of PWDVA-2005 The history of a nation is also the history of its law making. At the same time, laws do not have an autonomous existence but are responses to the felt needs of our times. There is no doubt that the journey began when, emerging from colonial rule in India; we gave to ourselves a Constitution, which off course guaranteed the right to equality and non-discrimination based on sex. Based on this equality guarantee, our country India has enacted several laws to deal with the phenomenon of violence against women. The first law enacted on this issue in the post-independence era was the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961(DPA). The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Sec 304B IPC – addresses the particular offence of dowry death; and Sec 498A IPC – addresses the wide-scale violence against married women for dowry. This law penalized the act of giving and taking of dowry. Unfortunately, the enactment of the DPA prevented neither the demand for dowry nor the act of giving it. Again, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act-2005, for the first time, formally recognizes a women’s right to a violence free home. This law is the first step towards brining women’s human rights into the sphere of the ‘home’, which has been an important place of violence. The PWDVA- 2005 was brought into force by the Government of India from October 26, 2006. Subsequently, it was passed by the parliament in August 2005 and assented by the President on 13 September 2005. As of November 2007, it has been ratified by four of twenty-eight state governments in India. But, it is unfortunate that we claim India to be one of the most rapidly advancing and developing countries in the world and yet we have done hardly anything remarkable against the great social hazards like domestic violence. Again, on 19 March 2013, the Indian Parliament passed another new law with the goal of more effectively protecting women from sexual violence in India.2 Loopholes in Domestic violence Act. National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, a woman is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the victim occurs every nine minutes.[3] This all occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. It implies that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act-2005 is not sufficient to protect the rights of Indian women. After it was brought into force by the Indian government, the Act suffers from inadequate resource allocation and its implementation. A report prepared by Delhi based Lawyers highlights several trends but what came through clearly was the great variability in the implementation of the law. While some states did relatively well, others had simply got off the block. Even the role of the protection officer, who plays a central role in facilitating women’s access to justice under the Act, came in for a lot of attention. There were questions raised about how qualified the protection officers were. But, the majority of protection officers do not have a background in social work or law. Even the allocation of funds for the implementation of the Act is not justifiable. Laws are not that rigorous when it comes to reporting acts of domestic violence in our society. Even if the report is filed in court it turns out to be a long drawn process and not every victim has that much resource to fight till the end. Steps that are actually needed; though laws against domestic violence, speedy execution and change in the mindset of society only then we can expect to have some improvement in such inhuman activities. How to prevent domestic violence and protect women’s human rights? Domestic violence is undoubtedly a human rights issue in our country and it is serious deterrent to development. It is a complex problem and there is no single strategy that will work in the all situations. The need of hour is to realize our responsibilities as a human being and to give a halt to this evil crime. A systematic effort has to be made to listen to the voices of grass-roots women and survivors of domestic violence, and to incorporate solutions they have to offer. In the 21st century, domestic violence would increase more due to the changed life style. This is going to be a world phenomenon. So, Government and NGOs should work hand in hand to overcome this serious problem of our society. Community groups and Government institutions should be trained to identify women, men, adolescent boys and girls, and children at risk of domestic violence, and to refer them to confidential and accessible services. Where such services are not available, communities must be helped to establish local culturally appropriate mechanisms to support women. Again, men need to challenge other men to stop abusing women, and to change the norms that encourage this violence. This requires support for men to act as healthy role models to younger men, and the raising of boys in a non-violent climate to respect women. Adolescent boys need positive role models and clear messages from the men in their families and society in general that violence against women is not acceptable. Man’s organizations can also provide leadership in the local community to oppose violence against women. Working in collaboration with women’s organizations that have expertise in this area. Even, professional associations for doctors, lawyers, psychologists, nurses, social workers and other professionals also can work as key players in opposing violence against women. The media plays a pivotal role in both influencing and changing social norms and behavior. In the area of domestic violence, media campaigns can help to reverse social attitudes. This kind of attitude tolerates the violence against women by questioning patterns of violent behavior accepted by families and societies. Religious leaders at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that religious interpretations are not used to oppress women. Value based education should be introduced in the curriculum so that violence and injustice against women can be reduced. Gender sensitive curricula also should be developed at all levels of educational system of our country in order to address sex stereotyping as one of the causes of gender discrimination and violation of human right of women. In traditional societies, families have relied upon community-based support mechanisms to resolve issues of conflict. Creating awareness about the impact of domestic violence on communities conveys the importance of preventing such violence against women. Studies need to be conducted to analyze Initiating networks of women will encourage greater regional exchange on issues of gender equity, women’s rights etc. The network can also act as a base for service collaborations among domestic violence and sexual assault activists. They could also serve as important pressure groups to advocate for rights of women at the regional as well as national level. All this could go a long way in ensuring a violence- free life for women.Conclusion Though women have been guaranteed equal rights in various international declarations and by the constitution of the country, crime against women has undoubtedly been increasing in the country which has become a major cause of concern amongst the law enforcing agencies. There is a kind of social discrimination against women results into systematic neglect of women’s right, from womb to tomb. The extent of violence against women and children is still not acknowledged and thus there is a need for research to be gender friendly and its analysis. Research should be followed by a strong advocacy effort towards institutionalizing women’s human rights. Human rights education and information regarding domestic violence should be provided to the women because this is a matter of their absolute right. In 2010, a movie based on Domestic Violence titled ‘Bell Bajao’ was released with the support of the Ministry of Women and Child Development which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival.4 A mass awareness is a must to ring the bell. Again, to awaken people, it is the women, who must be awakened. Once the women are on the move, the entire family moves and ultimately the nation moves. A determined drive can initiate a spark to light the lamp and show the world. Notes.1. Violence against women, WHO,FRH/WHD/97.8, “Women in transition,” Regional Monitoring Report, URICEF, 1999 2. Gates, Sara. “India Rape Law: Parliament Passes Strict Sexual Violence Legislation.”” The Huffington Post.