No more silence about violence
“Just a slap, but he can’t hit me” -This sentence not only reveals a dialogue of a film but also exposes the stark reality of different societies. Domestic violence is existing in almost every community in the world. The term can be classified on various grounds including some instances of violence against spouses, children or elders and transgenders. The various types of activities adopted by the attacker against the victim include physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse or deprivation, economic exploitation, abusive, taunting, etc. Domestic violence is not only a problem in developing or less developed countries, but it is also very prevalent in developed countries. Domestic violence is a reflection of our pseudo-civilized society.
Violence has no place in a civilized society. But the number of domestic violence cases reported each year underlines a worrying situation. In our country, people are being tortured behind closed doors. This shameful act of violence is also being done in rural areas, towns, cities and metros. Domestic violence across all social classes, gender, race and age groups is becoming a legacy from generation to generation. In this article, efforts will be made to find the causes of domestic violence, the impact on the society and children, and solutions to the problem.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence means any act that causes health, safety, life-threatening, economic loss and damage to a woman and child (child and girl under 18 years of age) and such damage that is unbearable and which causes grief and humiliation to the woman and child. All these are included in the scope of domestic violence.
Under the Domestic Violence Act, an aggrieved woman can prosecute any adult male, i.e can file a case against him.
Various forms of domestic violence in India
According to the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 in India, any women as a victim of domestic violence and children and girls below 18 years of age are protected. The various forms of domestic violence in India are as follows:
Domestic violence against women – giving physical pain to a woman – such as assault, pushing, stumbling, hitting something or physically hurting the woman in any other way, forcing the woman to look at pornography or pornographic images, Raping, abusing, humiliating, hurting a woman’s family and social reputation, humiliating a woman or girl, blaming her character, against her marriage will, threatening suicide, verbal abuse, etc. According to the United Nations Population Fund report, nearly two-thirds of married Indian women are victims of domestic violence and 70% of married women aged 15–49 in India are beaten, raped, or forcibly sexually abused.
Domestic Violence Against Men – There is no question on the fact that domestic violence against women is a serious and major problem, but domestic violence against men is also increasing gradually in India. The supremacy of men in society gives confidence that they are not vulnerable to domestic violence. Recently hundreds of men gathered in Chandigarh and Shimla, who sought protection and safety from domestic violence against their wives and other family members.
Domestic Violence Against Children – In our society, children and adolescents also face domestic violence. In fact, this form of violence is the second in the number of reported cases after violence against women. There is a lot of variation in the case of urban and rural areas and in the upper class and lower class families in India. It is treated as more personal in urban areas and is hidden within the fences.
Domestic Violence Against Elderly – This form of domestic violence refers to the violence against the elderly in the house committed by their children with other family members. This category of domestic violence is becoming highly sensitive in India. This includes beating up elders, asking them to do excessive household chores, not giving food etc. and keeping them separate from the rest of the family members.
Reasons for domestic violence
The main reason for domestic violence towards women is the senseless mindset that women are physically and emotionally weaker than men.
Including dissatisfaction with the received dowry, arguing with partner, refusing to make an intimate relationship, neglecting children, going out of the house at odd times without telling partner resulting in the barrage, oddities in the regular behaviour.
Indulging in extramarital affairs, not caring for in-laws, in some cases, sterility in women also lead to attacks on them by family members.
Reasons for domestic violence towards men include not following wives’ instructions, ‘insufficient men’s earnings, extramarital affairs, not helping in domestic activities’, not taking proper care of children, abusing husband and family, Sterility etc. of men.
Reasons for domestic violence with children may include disregarding parental advice and orders, poor performance in education or not being on par with other neighbourhood children, arguing with parents and other family members, etc.
The reasons for domestic violence with children in rural areas can include child labour, physical abuse or harassment for not following family traditions, forcing them to stay at home and not allowing them to go to school, etc.
In order to get money in poor families, there have been reports of parents selling body parts of retarded children. This incident shows the high level of cruelty and violence against children.
The main reasons for domestic violence against older people are the children hesitating to bear the expenses of the old parents. They torment their parents emotionally and beat them to get rid of them.
On various occasions, they are beaten up for acting against the wishes of family members. One of the most common reasons is the torture given to grab property.
Effects of domestic violence
If a person has faced domestic violence in his life, it is very difficult for him to come out of this fear. Negativity, gloom and apathy dominate the intuition of a person after he is perpetually a victim of domestic violence. It takes years for that person to return to the mainstream of a stable lifestyle.
The worst aspect of domestic violence is that the person suffering from it does not come back from the trauma. It is often seen in such cases that people either lose their mental balance or fall prey to depression.
This is the most dangerous and tragic situation of domestic violence that when the people whom we trust so much and live with -when they give us this kind of grief, the person loses faith in relationships and starts living solitarily. Many times people even commit suicide in this condition.
The most widespread effect of domestic violence is on children. CT scans show that children who have spent their lives in domestic violence shrink the corpus callosum and hippocampus part of their brain, affecting their learning, cognitive ability, and power of emotional regulation.
Children learn vicious and aggressive behaviour from their father. The effect of this can be seen in the violent acts of children towards other unstable and weak children and animals at times.
Girls learn cynical behaviour and often become submissive, silent or tend to run away from situations.
The quality of life of each person is adversely affected because the women who have been victims of violence take less part in various activities of social life.
According to the researchers, it is important to note that not all victims of domestic violence are aggressive. We can help them to get out of the mental turmoil of domestic violence by providing them with a better atmosphere.
India is still lagging behind in surveying, peering, understanding and trying to change the mindset of assailants. We are still largely ignoring the view propagated by experts that- “in order to end violence and discrimination against women and children in the true sense, we need to consider men not only as a reason for the problem but they’re also to be seen as an integral part of the solution to this.”
As a first step towards reform, it will be fundamental that men should be put in as a part of the scenario instead of putting it like “men against women”. It will be mandatory to promote the spirit of masculinity in a healthy way and get rid of old worn-out mould.
The Government has passed the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 from Parliament to protect women and children from domestic violence. To get the full benefit of all the provisions comprised in this law, it is important to understand who is the victim. If you are a woman and someone among relatives misbehaves with you, then you are suffering under this act.
India has become serious towards mental health by the Mental Health Act, 2017, but it needs to be made more effective. Policymakers need to develop mechanisms to provide benefits of professional mental health services to families recovering from domestic violence.
The government has launched schemes such as ‘One-Stop Centers’, which aim to facilitate and ensure their access to an integrated range of medical, legal and psychological services to help women who are victims of violence.
Vogue India launched a ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ campaign to spread awareness about violence against women, while the global human rights organization ‘Breakthrough’ launched a campaign against domestic violence. Both these campaigns were spectacular efforts made at the private level to deal with domestic violence against women.
If we really want to create an “India free from violence against women”, then the time has come that we, as a nation, should discuss this subject collectively. A good way could be to start a nationwide, sustained and prosperous social campaign.