Domestic Violence - Male Dominance in a mute society
By - Anjali Bisht
Law College Dehradun (V Year)
In India the girls are always tutored since the very start on things like how we should behave, what should we wear, we shouldn't talk to boys and god know what not. Since the very beginning itself girls are made to realise that a boy is much more competent and that we can never be in level with them. This may come in form of gestures or expressly, but we are made to believe that a boy is superior to a girl and what he does can never be wrong or questioned because, he is the one who takes the family name to next generation. This is the mentality of society in India and surely a lot of people will critic this point of view but, the truth remains the same because, this still exists in our country. With this concept being adopted by the society the male chauvinism starts to show it's impact in form of rape, acid attacks, harassment, eve teasing, domestic violence and various other forms of abuse. We shall explore the dimensions of 'domestic violence' in this particular piece of writing.
What exactly we mean by 'Domestic Violence'?
According to legal dictionary, domestic violence is "any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another can constitute domestic violence."
Domestic violence can take a number of forms and it not only includes physical abuse or aggression, but emotional torture also constitutes the offence. Violence can be of criminal nature which includes physical assault i.e. hitting, pushing, etc and sexual abuse. Although emotional and financial abuse do not constitute criminal behaviours, but they still are forms of abuse included under the definition of domestic violence.
Examples of abuse are:
1. name calling ,
2. threatening the partner of physical harm
3. physical violence on the partner
4. sexual assault
Why such acts take place?
Domestic violence often takes place as the abuser thinks he is justifiable and the abuse inflicted by him is also acceptable. There amy be a cycle of abuse involved in such act. According to Lenore E. Walker who interviewed 1,500 women subjected to domestic violence is of the opinion that there was a similar pattern of abuse, called the "cycle of abuse". Walker proposed that the cycle of abuse describes the controlling pattern of patriarchal behaviour of men who thought that they are entitled to abuse their wives in order to control their behaviour and maintain dominance upon them. The cycle of abuse generally has four phases namely the tension building (the stage where stress starts building up in the couple), acting out ( it's the phase when their is an outburst resulting in violence or emotional abuse), reconciliation ( the phase when the abuser feels remorse for his actions) and lastly the phase of calm ( this phase is the return of the relationship back to the normal). The continuous cycle of abuse results in fear, separation, physical or emotional disability and in some cases death.1
Anyone can be a victim -
We are always told that home is the safest place to be away from all the dark things but, this isn't true in every case. Domestic violence is one such example that portrays that even home isn't a safe place to be. Domestic violence isn't an age, sex, race, culture, religion etc. related crime. The victim of domestic violence can be either of the sexes, but in majority cases it turns out to be women who have fallen prey of such monstrous act.
India and domestic violence -
We live in a superficial society who claims that they respect women, but the statistical figures don't lie rather they project the real position of women in our Indian society. The concept of domestic violence portrays the patriarchal society and it's attempt to overpower women. Our society serves as the perfect host for the patriarchal parasite to feed on. The fact that is remarkably ironic in our country is that we consider women to be goddesses and consider them 'Lakshami' i.e. the fortune of wealth and prosperity, 'Saraswati' - the goddess of knowledge, 'Durga' - the destroyer of evil and many more, but still we also are a nation where domestic violence is a common phenomenon.
According to a United Nations report, six out of ten Indian men admit to have committed violence against their wife. The statistic is shocking, but sadly is true.
A National Family and Health Survey in 2005 states that total lifetime prevalence of domestic violence was 33.5% and 8.5% for sexual violence among women aged 15 - 49.2 The Lancet Report of 2014 reported that the reported sexual violence rate in India is among the lowest in the world, the large population of India means that the violence affects 27.5 million over women in their lifetime.3 The 2012 National Crime Record Bureau report states that in India a reported crime rate of 46 per 100,000, rape rate of 2 per 100,000, dowry homicide rate of 0.7 per 100,000, and the rate of domestic cruelty by husband or relatives as 5.9 per 100,000.4
Consequences of Domestic Violence -
Domestic violence causes a great amount of distress on the victim. The victim is traumatised and scarred for life with the haunting images of the abuse inflicted on her. It takes a great deal of courage on the part of the victim to come to terms with the reality of life and it becomes difficult to ensure her that she will never get abused. They don't feel safe even when surrounded with the ones they love and who care about her. The victims in many cases when unable to bear the abuse tend to be suicidal and often end their lives.
Apart from the victim, the children who are subjected to such acts are more likely to have a deep psychological effect. Even if they are not abused but, are spectators of their mother or any other relative being abused then also they may suffer psychological and emotional turmoil. They tend to be vulnerable and may have emotional and behaviour problems in the future.
Protection provided by the nation's statutes -
In order to combat the growing number of domestic violence cases in India, the Parliament enacted the Protection Of Women from domestic Violence Act, 2005. The Act is an attempt to protect the women from domestic crimes. It came into force on 26 October, 2006 and has been ratified by four state governments in India namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
Under the Act, domestic violence constitutes of -
Habitual assaults or making the life of the aggrieved person miserable by cruelty of conduct even if such conduct does not amount to physical ill-treatment; or
Forces the aggrieved person to lead an immoral life; or
Otherwise injures or harms the aggrieved person.
The Act not only covers those women who are in a marital tie, but also includes women engaged in a live-in-relationship. The Act not only recognises physical abuse but, also economical, emotional and sexual abuse as domestic violence.
What can we do?
Law cannot help us if we do not seek it's help. If an abused woman continues to suffer then it's our moral duty to make her aware of her rights and encourage her to fight for justice. Before we teach our daughters how to behave and tell our sons that boys shouldn't cry we should rather teach them that boy's shouldn't make others cry.
1 - Wikipedia
2- Women's Empowerment in India, National Family and Health Survey, 2005
3- The Lancet Report, Vol 383, March 8, 2014, P. 865
4- Crime Statistics in India 2012 - Statistics Government of India, National Crimes Record Bureau