Domestic Violence.

 

‘Amber Heard Accuses Johnny Depp of Domestic Violence’

‘Qandeel Baloch’s dishonourable killing – Pakistani model strangled by her own brother at her home.’

‘My husband came into the room, locked the door. He turned up the music so that no one could hear us outside. Then he took out his belt and started to hit me. He kept whipping me for the next 30 minutes.’

‘A 15 year old girl from Jharkhand working as a domestic help in a Vasant Kunj home rescued by an NGO and admitted to nearby hospital with knife injuries, dog bites, sores and bruises all over her body.’

While flipping through the pages of the newspaper, I end up reading at least 2-3 articles on incidents of domestic violence, every single day.  It upsets me how many of us are belittled, mocked and demeaned repeatedly at our homes. It disturbs me how our very own people turn out be our most horrifying nightmares. And it scares me when I come across the alarming increase in the number of victims and offenders.

Meaning

Domestic violence is currently defined in India by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005. According to Section 3 of the Act, “any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it harms, injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse.”

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This illustration depicts physical abuse. Medium – black permanent marker on white sheet. 

Statistics

  • 1,18,866 crimes out of 3,09,546 crimes against women reported in India in 2013 were related to domestic violence.
  • The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) has conducted a three-year research program on domestic violence in India. Their reports state that – ‘Of the 9,938 women in the survey, approximately one out of every four (2,596 women or 26 percent) had experienced slapping, kicking, hitting, beating, threat or use of a weapon, or forced sex in the last 12 months.’
  • More than 55 percent of the women reported that they perceive violence as a normal part of marriage.
  • Not only is physical violence against women frequent, it occurs at a startling rate during pregnancy as well. The deaths of 18 lakh girl children in India in the past two decades have have been linked to the same. Author Jay Silverman said, “Being born a girl into a family in India in which your mother is abused makes it significantly less likely that you will survive early childhood.”
  • Domestic Violence is not unique to India. It occurs worldwide, but what sets it apart in India from many other countries is the culture of silence that still surrounds it. A 2015 journal article by Claire Snell-Rood, a medical anthropologist at University of Kentucky, notes that 75-86 percent of women do not disclose that they are victims of abuse by their families.

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I used m-seal and double exposure and combined with some typography to present the harsh realities of women facing domestic violence. 

Reasons

  • Lawyer Monika Joshi says the notion of domestic violence is rooted in patriarchy – where women are regarded as inferior to men and abuse of women is widely condoned and beating is often justified.
  • The greed for dowry, desire for a male child, honour killing and alcoholism of the spouse are major factors of domestic violence against women in rural areas.
  • In urban areas, more income of a working woman than her partner, her absence in the house till late night, abusing and neglecting in-laws are the major causes of violence.
  • There have been cases of molestation and rape attempts of women by other family members in nuclear families.
  • Rebecca J. Burns expresses that women stay because the fear of leaving or being alone is greater than the fear of staying.
  • Constant threats and manipulation, financial problems and the desire to keep the family together so that the child doesn’t get affected, contribute to a few reasons of why women remain silent.

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This mixture of sketching and digital art represents the verbal abuse a married rural Indian woman is facing. 

Consequences 

  • Children who were exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse have a higher risk of developing mental and physical health problems.
  • It has been found that children who witness mother-assault are more likely to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Some chronic health conditions that have been linked to victims of domestic violence are arthritis, chronic pain, pelvic pain, and migraines. 
  • Victims who are pregnant during a domestic violence relationship experience greater risk of miscarriage.
  • A psychological set back and trauma because of domestic violence affects women’s mental state and productivity in all forms of life.
  • Victims who are still living with their perpetrators experience high amounts of stress, fear, and anxiety. Repeated criticism leads to low self esteem and depression among women and men, both. In addition to depression, victims of domestic violence also commonly meet the diagnostic criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.
  • Children who are victimised by physical violence may become handicapped in the near future. In some cases children run away from their homes, commit suicide and indulge in malpractices because of improper education and bad company they become a part of after leaving the home.
  • People who have previously experienced domestic violence have a high tendency of hitting/ill-treating their partner, child, parent, servant in order to reciprocate the wrong deeds done to them. This passes on from one generation to another.

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Highlighting the victims of emotional abuse, I sketched this on paper and amended the Shakespearean quote to exhibit how an urban woman feels on being controlled by her co-worker. 

Laws

  • In 1983, domestic violence was recognised as a criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. It deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman.
  • In 2005, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed. This Act includes not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
  • On 19 March 2013, the Indian Parliament passed a new law called Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The law makes stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks and forcibly disrobing a woman explicit crimes, provides capital punishment for rapes leading to death, and raises to 20 years from 10 the minimum sentence for gang rape and rapes committed by a police officer. The new law however still doesn’t address marital rape, rape committed by the armed forces or rape against men.

Recommendations

It’s high time we accept marital rape as an act of violence against women and be provided with laws punishing the husbands. Greater access to education is an important precondition for women to have more options in negotiating conflict within the marriage. Improving her financial status will make her less dependant on her partner, thereby easing her suffering. More than half of the women reporting violence say that family members are aware of the violence. The site of first response to violence – which includes family members, neighbours, colleagues, and social and community groups—must be strengthened. The community members must make a difference by not staying silent and by supporting a woman seeking help. One must also appreciate and encourage the efforts of various NGO’s by volunteering at their events and interacting with the victims.

2 thoughts on “Domestic Violence.

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