Domestic violence comprises all acts of sexual, economical, physical, verbal and psychological violence against women. It can be committed by the husband or any member of the family, be it a man or a woman. Domestic violence can also encourage the immoral act of marital rape, intimate partner violence and harassment for dowry. I think that the most surprising fact is that men and women in urban areas are also perpetrators of violence against a woman.
Despite being educated, women in urban areas are victims of domestic violence in a hush-hush setting. The class and caste of a woman do not matter when it is about domination by a man or a slap by the in-laws. The religious ideals of the perpetrator of domestic violence vanish when they target and hit a woman! It is ironic that we all as a society worship goddesses in Hinduism because the real setting of the treatment of a woman in our society is somewhat different!
More than half of India’s population lives in rural areas, and cases of domestic violence were found to be more in rural India. I think that this can be because villagers tend to live in crowded settings and people living in cohabitation generally harass women because they know they would stay quiet. In India, domestic violence is highly normalised and generalised even though it is morally and legally incorrect to hit or abuse anyone, The patriarchal setting of the Indian household and the whole society doesn’t recognize domestic violence as something that can affect the sanity of a woman!
The famous phrase ‘Personal is Political’ explains the context of domestic violence very well because the personal experiences of a woman in her home and locality are affected by the whole system and setting in which the family and the woman reside. It is often said that what happens inside a home should be kept behind the walls of the house. This mentality threatens almost all women all over the country.
The narrative of shame and respect of the family refrains a woman from speaking up about her traumatic experiences. The fear that a woman faces inside a household when she is subjected to violence, the scar on the face of a young girl from her father or uncle inside the house, the nagging and toxic speech of the in-laws faced by a new bride for not giving the desired amount of dowry is terrible.
There are a large number of helplines, non-governmental organizations and government institutions and laws that strive to help the victims of domestic violence. The initial way to reach out for help is through helplines and registration of complaints in an institution.
Pan India organizations that offer helpline support are; National Helpline for Domestic Abuse (Delhi Commission For Women) 181, National Women helpline 1091. Breakthrough India is a 24/7 helpline number for women facing sexual abuse or domestic violence 8793088814/15/16. Other helplines include Shakti Shalini (011-24373737), Jagori (011) 26692700, and National Commission for women (0721-7735372).
The Government of India is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 allow for victim counselling, medical aid and help with the support of the shelter homes through the government and the magistrate. There is also the provision of a protection officer for the victim and punishment of imprisonment of the perpetrator in case of breach of protection order for one year or more and payment of fine.