Domestic violence is the most committed crime at present. In this male-dominated society, we see numerous domestic violence cases coming up. Despite making so many laws for the protection of women against domestic violence, we still witnessed how, during the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence cases increased in India.
It was reported that during the first week of lockdown, when people were getting frustrated with staying back at home, women had to survive from both the pandemic in the outside world and domestic violence inside their house. It was observed that domestic violence rose to at least 53% in the first week of the lockdown.
So, today in this article, we will talk about the research on domestic violence, causes of domestic violence, the initiative of the Indian legal system against domestic violence, and the response of the Indian government against domestic violence.
Research Done On Domestic Violence:
In India, rape and sexual assault cases might be the headlines, but domestic violence is the topmost crime faced by Indian women. The National Crime Research Bureau, popularly known as NCRB, has researched and concluded that 30.9% of all 4.05 lac cases registered under Section 498 IPC are domestic violence cases. Section 498 IPC deals with the cruelty against women by the husband or the relative.
Though domestic violence is the largest criminal offence committed against women, it is still an under-reported crime. The reasons for this are numerous – social embarrasment, financial dependency on husband and relatives, fear of getting harmed, and blaming a complicated bureaucratic process.
Unlike the NCRB, a recently launched National Family Health Survey collected self-reported responses from spousal violence. They capture if the woman is subject to domestic violence by her husband, regardless of whether it has been reported or not.
As reported by the NFHS-5, 44% of women in Karnataka have experienced spousal violence, followed by Bihar (40%), Manipur (39.6%), Telangana (36.9%), Assam (32%), and Andhra Pradesh (30%).
It was also seen that there is the least violence in Lakshadweep (1%) and Nagaland (6%) but the most violence in Goa (8.3%) and Himachal Pradesh (8.3%).
Over 70% of Indian states have under-reported domestic violence. This means that NCRB statistics and NFHS statistics are drastically different.
The women in India are subjected to murder threats and beating regularly, as a research was done with 90 women with abusive husbands. The study was done through a semi-structured interview to collect data on abuse characteristics, help-seeking behaviour, and consequences of abuse.
Results say that most women faced domestic violence on a regular basis, with 70% of them living under murder threat and 85% of them seeking medical help for their injuries.
Causes Of Domestic Violence In India:
Now, since we have some idea on domestic violence, it is time to talk about the causes of such domestic violence in India.
In India, there are many cases where we see women facing domestic violence from their husbands and other family members. According to the dowry rituals, the assets are transferred to the groom in exchange for marrying the bride, and when the groom’s families are not satisfied with the dowry, they start beating the bride.
Dowry has been made illegal since 1961 under the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, but it is still prevalent In India. There are many cases of ‘dowry deaths’ in India, where the husband and his family members beat up the wife for this dissatisfaction with the dowry. Section 304B IPC explains the term ‘dowry death,’ and the offenders are punished with not less than seven less or life imprisonment.
Legal research was done to know why this domestic violence is happening under the Indian Justice System. The result tells us that the legal understandings characterize mother-in-law violence as “intra-women” relational conflict, or dowry-related, rather than gender-based violence.
As a result, domestic violence conviction rates remain low, and alleged legal abuse and malfeasance surround so many incidents.
People don’t get the fact that no woman is equal to anything. Just like men, women are equal; they can’t be treated like stray dogs just because of the dowry. The legal system in India has to be more strict against the dowry system because how can an illegal thing which was abolished 60 years back still be prevalent?
Another main problem of domestic violence is society. Yes, society is the main problem because it was found that most women subjected to domestic violence do not take shelter from the legal system due to social isolation.
That is the worst part because there are women out there who are being battered but unable to seek legal help because of the patriarchal society in India, where divorced women are usually seen as bad women or evil women. Nobody in society can fully comprehend the verbal, physical, or psychological abuse a woman suffers when she is a victim of domestic violence.
Society will always isolate her; there are many incidents where the child of the divorced woman also gets isolated in school or gets bullied. No one ever tries to understand that maybe that woman or the child’s mother was subject to domestic violence daily by her husband or his relatives.
Narrow Minded Society:
People have to change their way of thinking because there are many laws out there, but the people’s way of thinking should be changed sooner because 52% of women and 42% of men out there think that it is justified to beat women. So how can the laws help when women themselves think that it is okay to get beaten up.
Are married women the only ones who are victimized by domestic violence?
This domestic violence against women is not limited to married women and happens with unmarried girls. They are ill-treated when they can’t reach up to the expectations of the family members, and especially in a male-dominated family, this happens a lot.
They are mentally, physically, and emotionally tortured to be the way parents or family members want them to be. But it won’t reach the media or the legal system until and unless the girl is dead or commits suicide.
For instance, there was a recent incident where a young girl, Neha Paswan, was beaten to death just because she was wearing jeans. According to the victim’s mother, her daughter was keeping fast throughout the day, and while appearing for the ritual, she wore jeans and a top. Her grandparents objected to it, and in reply, she said that these are clothes to be worn.
Things turned violent, and she became unconscious after getting hit. The other family members claimed that they called drivers to take her to the hospital but did not allow the mother to follow her. Later, the girl was found dead hanging from over a bridge.
The next day when the whole thing was all over the media, and all the girls started protesting. But what happened to Neha Paswan? Is she alive? Did anyone protect her from death or protest when her family members beat her to death because she could not meet their expectations?
Legal Steps Taken:We have seen many people coming up with ideas to reach up the legal field. So what exactly are these laws against Domestic Violence?
Before 1983, Indian law made no provision to address domestic violence specifically. During the 1983 amendment of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), Section 498A was inserted. Matrimonial cruelty is prohibited in Section 498A. In India, matrimonial cruelty is now a cognizable offence that is not bailable or compoundable.
Protecting women from domestic violence started in 2005 with the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. A person is considered to be responsible for domestic violence if they commit any of the following acts, omissions, or commissions, which may include any of the following:
- Injures, harms, or threatens the health, safety, life, limb, or well-being of the aggrieved person or is likely to do so, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and economic abuse; or
- Harasses, harms, injures, or threatens the aggrieved person with the intent of making her or any other person related to her owe any kind of dowry or other valuable security; or
- By any of the conducts mentioned in clause (a) or (b), threaten the aggrieved person or any other person related to her; or
- In any other way harms or injures the aggrieved person.
There are so many laws made against domestic violence, there are so many NGOs coming up to help these women and save them, but still, domestic violence is the top-rated crime In India.
Response Of Government Against Domestic Violence:
Do you know what is surprising in this whole scenario? When a woman named Parthvi was beaten up by her alcoholic husband as Parthvi lost her job in the pandemic, she immediately ran up to the police present at the entrance of their village.
She asked them to take her to the police station as she wanted to survive. The police replied to her, “Go home and sort it out. The police and courts are shut for 21 days.”
This is the way the Indian government is taking up steps against domestic violence cases. It’s a matter of the fact that domestic violence will keep on rising in this way.
Can there be a solution?
According to me, separation or divorce is not the ultimate solution for domestic violence. There should be proper legal steps such as imprisonment or fine because though a couple gets separated, that does not mean the next wife will not face domestic violence.
Kamlesh Devi Vs. Jaipal & ORS case itself tells us how the offenders only stopped disturbing the daughters of Kamlesh Devi after Sube Singh, husband of the complainant, launched a complaint to the Sarpanch Of the village. Jaipal and other offenders stopped disturbing them for a while and again started bothering them. Seeing no other option, they had to file a complaint about protection against domestic violence.
When the women are not safe at home, how can you think they will be safe and comfortable outside their home? Government has to be strict with these rules and regulations; they have to widen their way of thinking. They have to save these women or girls who commit suicide and die.
There should be some laws against the narrow-minded people in our society. Most importantly, next time you hear the screaming of any women in your neighbourhood, don’t shut the window; instead, help them so that they can survive!