|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss various reasons for the high incidence of domestic violence in India.
Conclusion. Way forward.
In the recent times, violence against women has increased in India. According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), 37% of married women face domestic violence. Domestic violence is a violation of the fundamental right to live with dignity and of the right to equality and equal protection of the law guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and demand proper legal actions.
Various reasons for the high incidence of domestic violence in India:
- Patriarchal attitude: The major factor behind the violent behaviour of men is the patriarchal attitude which perceives woman as an object and gives her a low status in the society. Violence arises from patriarchal notions of ownership over women’s bodies, labour, reproductive rights and level of autonomy.
- Dowry system: There are strong links between domestic violence and dowry. In a 2005 study published in World Development, a negative correlation between dowry amount and inter-domestic violence was found, indicating dangers of domestic violence, if falling short on dowry expectations. The dowry prohibition act has limited impact on violence related to dowry, and many cases of bride being burned for dowry is reported.
- Social culture: The Indian culture glorifies the image of a woman who is tolerant and receptive, and is another reason which prevents women from walking out of the violent relationship. Further, religion perpetuates a culture where a woman is supposed to be submissive to her husband. For example, ‘pativrata nari’ is considered ideal in Indian society.
- Gender inequality: The research carried out in different parts of the world indicates that any social structure which treats women as fundamentally of less value than men is conducive to violence against women. India ranks 112th rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2019-2020 indicating wide gender gap. As men consider themselves superior, resorting to violence boosts and nurtures their egoistic superiority complex.
- Lack of support: Absence of viable alternatives of survival and lack of proper support group also forces a woman to continue tolerating violent behaviour. For instance, uneducated women find no support from her maternal family and therefore, continuously suffer due to economic dependence.
- Lack of awareness: Lack of awareness of their own rights and a general social belief in women’s subordination perpetuates a low self-image in women and her inferior status. Women are taught that marriage is the ultimate goal she has to achieve. All this conditioning gradually becomes the nature of an Indian woman.
- Other reasons: Poverty, alcoholism, unemployment etc. also contribute to violent behaviour. These factors put women at greater risk of violence because of the stresses created by financial hardship and relationship crises.
Various government measures to prevent domestic violence:
- Criminal offence: In 1983, domestic violence was recognised as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman.
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961: This Act prohibits the giving or taking of dowry. This is to ensure a change in the culture of dowry in India and associated violence.
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ensures the reporting of cases of domestic violence against women to a Protection Officer. The Act was to make justice available to women who may not always want criminal proceedings and would want to keep the option of reconciliation alive.
Measures to prevent domestic violence:
- Gender sensitization: A gender sensitization of all stakeholders is an important component of effective responses to domestic violence. It should form part of the curriculum of training of the police, judiciary, bureaucracy, policymakers, social workers, counsellors, and other service providers.
- Disseminate Information: Many women are unable to escape domestic violence because they are unaware of available legal services and agencies working in this area. Therefore, disseminating information on the range of services available is essential.
- Raise Public Awareness: It is important to generate public awareness on domestic violence as a violation of human rights. Educational strategies aimed at changing attitudes, beliefs and biases of law enforcers, the judiciary and citizens need to be developed and implemented.
- Healthy relationship skills: Social-emotional learning programs for youth and healthy relationship programs for couples should be promoted.
- Economic empowerment: So many women stay in destructive relationships because they will be homeless, with their children, if they leave. Divorce financial distributions need to be much fairer. Policy changes that tend to help women financially like raising the minimum wage, universal basic income can make a difference.
Article 21 of our constitution ensures the right to live with dignity for women. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 has not helped much in preventing domestic violence. A comprehensive effort is required and societal and government level.