Domestic Violence, Custody Laws And A Disturbed Childhood

Posted on March 23, 2011 in Society


By Mitu Khurana:

Domestic violence to the mother during pregnancy has been reported worldwide. The incidence of intimate partner violence during pregnancy has been rated at 2.5 to 3.4% in UK, 2 to 33.75 in USA and 12.5% in Ireland. Delay in providing medical aid for injuries, non-attendance at appointments, aggressive partners, vaginal tears, bleeding, STDs, miscarriages, pain and tenderness are just a few ways in which domestic violence may present itself during pregnancy.

Any sort of violence during pregnancy may lead to a number of complications; both for the unborn child as well as the mother. This can lead to both mental and physical damage to the fetus, premature birth with its own range of complications and life-long implications etc.

The would-be father, who inflicts violence on the mother during pregnancy, does so with total disregard to the well-being of his own child. There have been multiple studies which have shown the lifelong psychological impact on the babies whose mothers were subjected to abuse during pregnancy. They are shown to be more fearful, more aggressive, and have a lower intelligence.

In many countries, it is being increasingly recognized that a parent who indulges in domestic violence in front of the child, is not a good role model for the child. Domestic violence towards the mother of the child is a factor under consideration, while deciding the custody and visitation rights during divorce cases. It is a known fact that the abuse escalates during and after divorce as the abuser feels threatened of losing his control over the victim, and many abusive partners use the child as the pawn to maintain the control over the other parent, which otherwise they might lose because of the divorce. The visitation times are seen to be the times when the women again come in front of their ex-husbands, and this is a period of danger for both mother and child. It is also seen that many times, the victim of the abuse changes from mother to the child after the divorce.

In India, the law for custody and visitation does not recognize domestic violence towards mother as a factor to be considered while deciding the custody. The unsaid rule is that the access to both parents should be maintained. There have been various judgments which have said that a bad husband is not necessarily a bad father.

However, with changing times, we need to rethink. Does the father who inflicts violence on the mother with total disregard to the safety and well-being of the child in the womb deserve the rights of the father? Is the father who abuses the mother in front of the child, a good role model for the child? What is in better interest of child- to see his/her mother being abused, or to see his/her mother living peacefully with the child?

In today`s times when violence among children is assuming alarming proportions, we need to see that the children are exposed to only good role models. We do not want our sons to learn that it is normal to abuse wives, nor do we want our daughters to learn it is alright to be abused after marriage.

As popular saying goes- Children learn what they live. Are you ready to take a stand against this? Let us know your views in the comments section below.