Domestic Violence is a serious crime in a household setting. Such crimes are a part of every society of the world. Spouse, children, elderly people are the victims in domestic violence. Domestic Violence can take place in the form of physical, mental, emotional, verbal abuse.
With every passing year, cases of domestic violence has been increasing rapidly. A significant number of deaths are taking place on an everyday basis due to domestic violence. Illiteracy, economic dependency, alcoholism etc are the main reasons behind domestic violence. Although many cases of domestic violence comes to light every year yet a huge number of cases goes unnoticed and unregistered.
Dowry is one of the main reason behind domestic violence. The groom and his family pressurise the bride and her family for money and other expensive things. If the family of the bride fails to fulfill the demands of the groom, the bride gets assaulted by her husband and her in – laws. Not only the newly married women but women married for several years too face violence from their in – laws. These women gets robbed of even their basic human rights and lead an unfortunate life.
In many of the cases, the abuser is psychotic and requires counselling. Besides the abuser, the people who are the mute spectators of domestic violence are equally responsible for the crime. To cope with the growing cases of domestic violence, India launched a campaign called ‘Bell Bajao’ with the motivation to raise voice against domestic violence happening around in the society.
The Government of India enforced many Domestic Violence Acts. In Section 498 – A of Indian Penal Code, rules and regulations have been mentioned. Law deals with the culprits strictly.
Making laws to deal with such violence is undoubtedly necessary but it is not enough. People will have to awake from their slumber and become aware. Every human being deserves honour and respect and it is high time for people to raise their voice to protest against the wrongful activities happening to self and others. Domestic Violence is a serious offence and has to be dealt with strongly.
Human beings like to be emotionally and physically close to each other. As said, “Sharing is caring” life seems better shared. Relationships like most of the things require continuous efforts, even the best of them. After all, nobody is perfect, not your close friends, not your significant other and not even your parents and they also do not see you as perfect. We have to learn to accommodate to the circumstances and adapt to their faults, moods as they do for us. Since we aren’t clones rather individuals, therefore, difficulties are faced in maintaining relationships due to disagreements. Some individuals have to face more difficulties while others do not. But since we value relationships we are determined to uphold it whatever it takes. But some relationships turn toxic, which is characterized by toxic partners who emotionally and not infrequently physically be damaging to their partner. A toxic relationship has the potential, if not corrected to be extremely harmful to the well-being of the individuals. As a healthy relationship contributes to self-esteem and emotional energy a toxic one damages self-esteem and drains the energy. But this doesn’t mean that every toxic relationship is hopeless, they just require substantial and convoluted work in order to be converted into something healthy. A healthy relationship involves mutual caring, respect, compassion, a shared desire for each other’s happiness. In a healthy relationship, one doesn’t fear to be who he/she is, a place to be comfortable and secure, a sanctity. On the other hand, a toxic relationship is demanding, craves insecurity, dominance. One risks losing the very essence of oneself by being in such a relationship. It takes two people for a relationship, so both of them should be examined. Initially, the behavior of toxic one is being noticed but the recipient of the behavior should also be studied. It should be questioned why an adult needs to stay in a relationship that could potentially harm them physically and emotionally? Even a good relationship could have times that could be marked as toxic after all no one is perfect. The toxic partner engages in inappropriate controlling and manipulation on an almost daily basis but paradoxically for the world, they would be exemplar. This behavior is observed in the toxic individual because they want supremacy, crave control, power in his/her relationship. Some types of toxic relationships are-
The belitter- Such type of toxic partner would always belittle you, even in front of your friends, family, and even after you confronting him/her that such behavior induces pain in you. They would mock all of your decisions, undermining your self-esteem making you weak emotionally. They would also tell you that you’re lucky to have them in your life, you are unworthy of anything good and should adore whatever you’ve got.
The splenetic- Such partners are eager to lose temper in order to feel the power. The recipient ultimately gives up arguing and bowing down to the needs of the partner. You would feel like walking on an eggshell if you have one of such partners. Your partner would blame such behavior on you. The constant vigilance and inability to find out the trigger drains the energy in you, wearing you mentally and emotionally.
The degrader- Such partners would induce guilt in you. They can make you feel guilty whenever they feel like or whenever you don’t live up to their expectations. But whenever you do something they like they temporarily remove the guilt which is addictive as a guilt-ridden person only wants the guilt to be removed. Unfortunately, such behavior is used by grownups to control their adult children.
The overreactor- It is said that pain reduces when shared but it is not so in case of having a partner who is overreactor. Whenever you try to reach your partner to tell them about your insecurities, problems, they would bring their own problem, and you end up consoling them instead of being consoled. Such behavior adversely impacts your mental well-being because you never get consoled.
The maverick- “Noone’s gonna control me” is their sole moto. They are spontaneous and never keep their promise. You can’t even be sure whether they are evasive or committed. This makes the recipient anxious which deteriorates their mental and emotional health.
Since no one is perfect therefore now could see such behavior at some point in the relationship, but this doesn’t mean that the toxicity has crept in. Some things need to work put to keep such behaviors at bay.
Trigger Warning: Mention of Rape and Sexual Assault
New Media has also changed the style of journalism, such as the rise of online journalism, where facts, information, and reports are produced and distributed through the internet. News in the New Media era is enabled to spread more widely and rapidly. News content is now enriched by lots of digital elements such as images, embed videos, comment box. These elements make the information presented becomes more attractive. One of the salient characters of online journalism is its dependency on speed in delivering information. When we talk about the emerging trends in media, we cannot afford to overlook the role of online media in changing the scenario in the context of women’s issues. The content that the online media produces reflects the pattern of value the society. The prevailing attitude of society gets revealed through the way subjects dealing with women are treated by the media (Arpita Sharma, 2012).
Media has the choice of acting as both, a protagonist and as a perpetrator-it can either reinforce the gender-based discrimination by portraying sensational and stereotypical images of women or it can provide balanced reportage that empowers women and not degrades them while exposing acts of gender-based violence. Rape cases and sexual assault cases are not a recent trend in the society but sensitive reportage and wide coverage by media while also bringing these issues forefront are relatively very new.
Gender-based violence or GBV is violence that is directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience GBV but the majority of victims are women and girls. GBV and violence against women are terms that are synonymous as it is widely acknowledged that most gender-based violence is inflicted on women and girls, by men. The issue of GBV reaches every corner of the world. The numbers of women and girls affected by this problem are shocking. According to the World Health Organization’s data from 2013, one in every three women has been beaten, compelled into sex or are abused. One in five women is sexually abused as a child, according to a 2014 report.
In coverage of GVB, several stereotypes are often perpetuated by the new media. These include that rape is similar to sex, that the assailant is motivated by female lust, that the assailant is perverted, crazy or a monster, that the woman provokes rape or assault, and that only women are only victims. Scholars have found that these stereotypes and myths are pervasive in media coverage of rape and assault cases. Not only the language and the framing of the headlines but also the visuals used in the articles regarding GVB play an important role in the general perception of these issues.
In Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (UNESCO, 2012), under Category B- Gender Portrayal In Media Content, B1.5- Strategic Objective 5 states the indicators for the coverage of gender-based violence. Three of them are-
Use of non-judgmental language, distinguishing between consensual sexual activity and criminal acts, and taking care not to blame the victim/survivor for the crime
2. Use of the term ‘survivor’ rather than ‘victim’ unless the violence-affected person uses the latter term or has not survived
3. Use of background information and statistics to present gender-based violence as a societal problem rather than as an individual, personal tragedy
Terms such as ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ are often used to describe individuals who undergo these experiences. The term ‘victim’ reiterates feelings of helplessness and lack of female agency, while the term survivor connotes a sense of strength and resilience. However, the affected person should have a say in what to refer them as. The ‘victim’ terminology limits individual self-agency and identity. It is important to note that experiences of violence do not define the individual, but rather are a piece of a larger self-identity. Such labels focus on experiences of violence and presuppose an individual’s inability to change or undergo any personal development to transform their identity into a peaceful, empowered personality.
Images of sexual violence in the media often depicts women as covering their face, being silenced by looming hands, teary faces, large shadows near the woman, are some of the visual examples. These images not only fuel the stereotypes of women as helpless and weak, but also these images are also extremely triggering for the survivors of sexual assault and rape.
When media reports women who have been assaulted or raped as nothing but victims, society can disengage and fail to take the issue as a broader societal issue and fail to take responsibility for any individual or group action to change it. It is crucial then for journalists to report on GBV in an informed way and to have a good theoretical understanding of the roots of these gender based violence’s and what needs to change in society. Otherwise, they can do harm by perpetuating patriarchal stereotypes and falsehoods.
“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.