India has always seen a rapid ascend in the cases of Domestic Abuse. It has serious economic, social, and physical consequences not only for women and children in the household but in terms of the overall family psyche. Studies have shown the impact on domestic violence specifically on the male child in the family who grew up watching abusive behavior, especially towards their mothers.
More often than not, the male children are unable to comprehend the concept of consent and what qualifies as mental/physical abuse, due to the normalization of such attitudes within the family. According to the United Nations Population Fund Report, around two-third of married Indian women have been victims of domestic violence and as many as 70 percents of married women in India between the ages of 15 and 49 have been exposed to beating, marital rape or forced sex by their partner. In India, more than 55 percent of the women suffer from domestic violence, especially in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other areas with low literacy levels.
Along with this, another prevalent issue is that not enough concern is shown towards cases of Domestic Abuse despite the legal provisions that exist in the Indian Penal Code. Due to the entrenched patriarchal practices within legal institutions, domestic violence is therefore treated as a private family matter. Progressive laws do exist such as Section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) but these have often received staunch criticism from men’s rights groups in India quoting their misuse by women. Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the National Commission for Women registered 587 domestic violence complaints between March 23 and April 16 which includes a significant surge from 396 complaints received in 25 days between February 27 and March 22.
About one-third of women in India during the 2015-2016 National Family Health Survey) said they had experienced domestic violence, but only less than one percent of them sought legal help. The communities these women live in are seldom a refuge for those who are facing abuse. Although some women draw the idea of a “universal sisterhood” by identifying other women as sources of support, this is definitely not a dominant discourse. Community support is often assessed and is subjective to the fact whether the victim is worthy or needy of support and acceptance.
This worth is often contingent on whether the woman seeking refuge had been a good mother, wife, or a daughter-in-law. According to another NFHS study, a shocking 52 percent of women and 42 percent of men believed that a husband beating his wife for several reasons is justified, misbehavior towards the in-laws tops the list of these reasons, to everyone’s horror. One of the biggest consequences of this form of violence is the effect on children who are exposed to their mothers being beaten or assaulted. To tackle this problem in rural and underprivileged families is to acknowledge the problem by the victim so s/he can reach out and act under proper legal provisions; this is only possible once we eradicate the deeply embedded ideas of patriarchy from our society.
Aastha Nishtha Foundation believes knowledge is true power. Hence by providing these sufferers with enough knowledge and awareness, we can encourage and empower them to stand against domestic abuse/violence.