A Detailed Look At Domestic Violence in India [Part 1]

Posted on June 23, 2012 in Society

By Madhuja Barman:

Now-a-days often when we scan through the newspaper or while watching the television, we come across news related to torture and brutality against various members of the family. Mostly these members comprise women in the age group of 15-40 years. This brutality has been termed as domestic violence. ‘Wife tortured and battered to death, girls facing sexual harassment in school or their workplace, and sometimes it’s astonishing but they face such vindictive behaviour in their own house from among the family members.Domestic violence against women has become very common in society and is present in every other household.

It was a myth that domestic violence was prevalent in rural areas or towns but now it is rampant in urban areas and in metropolitan cities also. The most common reasons for such brutality is baseless suspicion on one’s spouse, not bringing the desired amount of dowry as expected by the groom’s family, refusing sex and even for petty reasons like food not being served on time or women not being able to give ample time to her family and in-laws due to work pressure. For such reasons, the women have to go through mental, physical and psychological trauma as they face constant violence at home. They are beaten; subjected to abusive language and even burnt as they don’t fulfil all the needs and desires of their family members.

A shocking and heart wrenching case of Naina Sahni brings out the level to which a man can fall to punish his wife due to suspicion that his wife might be having an affair with one of her colleagues. Once when the husband reached home, he found his wife talking over phone and consuming alcohol. As the wife understood that her husband was around, she hung up. Later, when the husband re-dialled then he found out that his wife was talking to her colleague and instantly he shot his wife dead. He took her body to a nearby store, chopped her body into pieces and put it in the hot oven. When the nearby police got the obnoxious odour, they started investigating around and found the man guilty of the heinous crime of killing his wife and his case is still pending in Supreme Court. This landmark case is also known as the ‘Tandoor case.’ Such cases brings out the point that groundless suspicion can be fatal for any human being, be it men or women. Such case stirs the many emotions and shakes us off our feet. [1]

Domestic violence now can be defined as any physical, mental, sexual or psychological abuse or just an attempt of it which creates fear in the minds of women and bewilders them.

In one such case, it so happened that a woman asked for a required amount of dowry and gifts for her first pregnancy and the girl’s father couldn’t manage the amount. Some days later, the dead body of the girl was found near a tank. It was clear that the woman’s hands and legs were tied and she was given electric shocks and then when she dies, her body was disposed of. [2]

It won’t be correct to say that domestic violence is a result of modernisation but it has always been in our society from ancient times. If we take a closer look at history, then we would come to know that women had to go through a lot of hardships at that time also. During the British Raj, Sati and Pardah system was prevalent and it was directed towards women only. Such violence is prevalent against women because the orthodox section of the society feels that women are not as strong as men and are not able to compete in this world. Even after proving their mettle in all fields in contemporary times, they still have to face domestic violence. There are various other reasons also which lead to such cruelty against women. Earlier, sati was prevalent as people thought that if the women of the house re marries, then she will be allowed to take all the property which her husband has left for her and it will deprive the family members of the deceased person of its benefits. So, they thought that the most appropriate method to get rid of all the problems was to burn the widow alive along with her deceased husband.