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A Look Into: Domestic Violence

Domestic violence or Gender Based Violence is a global phenomenon. It is the physical, emotional and financial violence against a woman and is a repetitive, assaultive and coercive behaviour against the woman by her husband or the victim's domestic circle.

If any woman who has any harm, injury to health, safety, life, well being, etc. done by any family member, all the actions are constituted as domestic violence.

Domestic violence can be named as wife abuse, marital assault, woman battery, spouse abuse, wife beating, etc. The act of violence is a pattern of purposeful behaviour of the abuser towards to spouse or wife in order to achieve the goal that he is in control of the woman's or the wife's life.

Domestic violence as defined by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 Section 3 is.

"Any act or, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute as domestic violence in case it harms or injures the person physically, verbally, mentally, economically and sexually." This is the main summary of the definition as stated in the Section 3 of the Act.

The ill treatment towards the wife can mentally affect her and can even scar her mentally, emotionally and even physically. Women who go through the assault and violence seek medical help and support.

This violence against women is a global pandemic and about 736 million women have become victims of intimate partner violence or non partner sexual violence or sometimes even both.

There are 5 kinds of domestic violence, and they are as follows:
  1. Physical Abuse
    The violence starts with less force like pushing but as the violence continues and there is no stop to it then the violence starts getting aggressive as time passes. The abusers mostly aim at hitting the wife or the spouse at places that are covered with clothing so that the injuries and their marks won't be visible to the others in the society.

    Abuses can be in the form of pushing, restraining, shaking, slapping, biting, pushing, kicking, strangulation and sometimes even homicide.
  2. Emotional Abuse
    In this sort of abuse, the abuser wants to make their partner feel scared, crazy, worthless, inferior and responsible for the abuse. The abuser is in control over the wife who feels threatened and scared.

    This abuse may include making the victim fear that they won't get food or the care that they need, making jokes about the victim, insults, blaming the victim for everything, withholding affection and threatening to take children away from the victim. The relationship becomes strained between the husband and the wife.
  3. Sexual Abuse
    This is the unwanted sexual activity with force and in situations like these the victims know the perpetrators. This sort of abuse is least discussed but it is the most common sort of abuse and domestic violence.

    It includes making sexual jokes about the victim or jokes to make them feel uncomfortable, demanding sex, rape, sexual torture, etc
  4. Social Abuse
    It is the isolation of the victim from the society and restrictions on human interactions. This is aimed to cut off contact family, friends and hence damaging the other relationships. As the victim is less or not at all socially connected with anyone, it gives the abuser more control over the victim.

    This abuse has the abuser insisting that the spouses spend time with only each other, not allowing to meet anyone else, monitoring the victim's mail and phone calls if any.

    The victim hence as a result cannot even ask for help if needed as there is no way to contact anyone.
  5. Financial Abuse
    This gives the abuser the control over the victim's finances. In most cases the victim is financially dependent on the abuser and hence the abuser can control their expenditure.

    The abuser keeps secrets regarding the finances, keeps tabs on the expenditure by the victim, making household and financial decisions solely, minimum or controlled access of cash to the victim, refusing the victim to work and earn money, etc.

The abuses take place when the abuser is frustrated because of job or even loss of job, anxiety, non  availability or withdrawal of alcohol and constant easy accessibility of the victim. The abuser also takes advantage of the fact that the victim cannot get in contact with anyone for help when there is shortage of help and even police help.

During the lockdown due to COVID  19 in the whole of India, there was barely any help available and not even many police stations were active. The abuser was with the victim at all times due to the lockdown. This gave the abuser more hold over the victim too.

During this time, National Commission for Women (NCW) had launched a WhatsApp number for victims to reach out to them when in need to report cases of domestic violence and when medical assistance was needed. In India, 25% of women have access to a smartphone and even a lesser percentage have access to internet services, hence they cannot contact or seek help from anyone.

In remote places, like the villages where there is no help or concrete set up of police and even hospitals, the domestic violence is on the rise. The women cannot seek help as there is no one around them. 68% of the population in India reside in villages and there are barely any resources for help there.

Violence Against Women Womb To Tomb

Close to 5 million girls in India are aborted by sex selective abortion. If a mother/ child bearer is beaten, the unborn child in the womb is harmed and this could result in a miscarriage of the child or could be born underweight or still born.

In a few Indian villages, if a girl child is born, the child isn't accepted by the family and she would be murdered by female infanticide or else would be subjected to physical, mental or sexual abuse by the elders or would be married off at an early age. It is the age old thinking of the society that having a son or a boy child in the family is a necessity and that a girl child could be of no use to the family.

70% women in India are often harmed or abused by their husbands.

Laws For Protection Of Women Suffering From Domestic Violence

The laws made for the protection of women are the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Under this act the victim is provided with security, medical assistance and shelter if needed. The victim can either be married or in a live in relationship (grandmother and mother). This act was brought into force by the Indian Government and the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the year 2006. The act protects women from all kinds of abuses and is not only restricted to domestic violence.

The victim or aggrieved person can ask for the rights to apply for a protection order against the abuser, an order of monetary relief and compensation order, a residence order and a custody order. The victim can get free legal services under the Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987.

Women who don't have money can get help too. The victim can apply for a complaint under Section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code which states that women who were subjected to cruelty, the abuser shall be punished with imprisonment for 3 years and a fine too can be imposed.

The victims are offered to stay in shelter homes which provide for protection against the abuser. A Protection Officer is appointed to be with the victim. Medical facilities are for free for the victim and the victim is treated properly with all the medications and utmost care.

This shows that a strong support system has been created for women who have been a victim of domestic violence and the various abuses

Warning Signs Of Domestic Violence

A person/abuser can be violent if he/she is showing extreme jealousy and possessiveness, has a negative attitude towards women, refuses to take responsibility and tries to put the blame of his mistakes on the others, is often frustrated and selfish, uses violence as to handle conflicts, has drastic mood swings, grew up in a violent household, etc.

If it is known that any woman is going through domestic violence in her household, they should inform the police and not meddle in the matter as it could aggravate it and make things worse. Help can be sought by contacting the Ministry of Women & Child Development on the women helpline number 181.

The country and the judiciary still think that domestic violence is not a criminal offense but in fact it is one of the serious crimes.

Steps By International Organizations For Eliminating Domestic Violence Against Women

The issue of domestic violence or gender-based violence is acknowledge by the international community as well. In 1995, the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action had called for a discussion on the elimination of violence against women. A whole decade later, in 2015 the United Nations had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This scheme included a global target to eliminate all the forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres.

The World Health Assembly Resolution 69 in 2016 called for a global plan of action to strengthen the role of the health systems within a national multi sector response to address interpersonal violence against women and young girls in particular.

Despite these steps being taken by the organizations, 49 countries have yet to adopt a formal policy on domestic violence.

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