Domestic violence During Covid -19 By Rahul Saxena @ Lexcliq

 

I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved. – B. R.
Ambedkar

“You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.” —
Barack Obama

Between January and May 2021, 2,383 complaints of domestic violence were filed with the National
Commission for Women. In the recent times, violence against women has increased in India: The National Crime Records Bureau
(NCRB) 2019 reports that a majority 30.9%) of all the 4.05 lakh cases under crimes against women are registered under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code(IPC). The section deals with ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’.  The NFHS-5 also echoes the stark reality of
domestic violence in India: 44% of women respondents in Karnataka have experienced spousal violence, followed by Bihar (40%),
Manipur (39.6), Telangana (36.9), Assam (32%), and Andhra Pradesh (30%). Lakshadweep (1.3%), Nagaland (6.4%), Goa
(8.3%) and Himachal Pradesh (8.3%) have the lowest violence among all the states surveyed.

What is Domestic violence?

Domestic violence is abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as dating,
marriage, cohabitation or a familial relationship. It is also categorised as domestic abuse, spousal abuse,
battering, family violence, dating abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV). It can be physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse as well as subtle, coercive or violent.  It is a violation of the fundamental right to live with dignity and of the right to equality and equal
protection of the law guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and demand proper legal actions.

Various reasons for the high incidence of domestic violence in India:

i) Patriarchy: Violence arises from patriarchal notions of ownership over women’s bodies, labour,
reproductive rights and level of autonomy.

ii) Dowry system: various studies have found a negative correlation between dowry amount and inter-
domestic violence, indicating dangers of domestic violence, if falling short on dowry expectations.

iii. Gender inequality: The research carried out in different parts of the world indicates that any social
structure which treats women as fundamentally of less value than men is conducive to violence against
women. India ranks 112th rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2019-2020
indicating wide gender gap. As men consider themselves superior, resorting to violence boosts and
nurtures their egoistic superiority complex.

iv. Erosion of joint family system: has reduced the check on the spouse’s violent behaviour.

v. Lack of awareness: Lack of awareness of their own rights and a general social belief in women’s
subordination perpetuates a low self-image in women and her inferior status.

vi. Stress: Stress is considered as a cause of domestic violence. This person has a tendency to be violent
towards the partner.

vii. Other reasons: Poverty, alcoholism, unemployment etc. also contribute to violent behaviour. These
factors put women at greater risk of violence because of the stresses created by financial hardship and
relationship crises.

 

Various government measures to prevent domestic violence:

i. Criminal offence: 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.

ii. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961: This Act prohibits the giving or taking of dowry. This is to ensure a
change in the culture of dowry in India and associated violence.

iii. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Protection of Women from Domestic
Violence Act, 2005 ensures the reporting of cases of domestic violence against women to a Protection
Officer. The Act was to make justice available to women who may not always want criminal
proceedings and would want to keep the option of reconciliation alive.

Measures to prevent domestic violence:
i. Gender sensitization: A gender sensitization of all stakeholders is an important component of effective
responses to domestic violence. It should form part of the curriculum of training of the police, judiciary,
bureaucracy, policymakers, social workers, counsellors, and other service providers.
ii. Disseminate Information: Many women are unable to escape domestic violence because they are
unaware of available legal services and agencies working in this area. Therefore, disseminating
information on the range of services available is essential.
iii. Raise Public Awareness: It is important to generate public awareness on domestic violence as a
violation of human rights. Educational strategies aimed at changing attitudes, beliefs and biases of law
enforcers, the judiciary and citizens need to be developed and implemented.
iv. Healthy relationship skills: Social-emotional learning programs for youth and healthy relationship
programs for couples should be promoted.
v. Economic empowerment: So many women stay in destructive relationships because they will be
homeless, with their children, if they leave. Divorce financial distributions need to be much fairer.
Policy changes that tend to help women financially like raising the minimum wage, universal basic
income can make a difference.
Article 21 of our constitution ensures the right to live with dignity for women. Protection of Women from
Domestic Violence Act, 2005 has not helped much in preventing domestic violence. A comprehensive effort is
required and societal and government level.

Empowering women is empowering society. Better women make better homes and a better society.

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