By Bhavy Jyoti Sharma
Domestic violence is a violence or any other kind of abuse, which takes place in a domestic setting such as marriage. Domestic violence is usually considered to take place between spouses or partners, but it also includes violence or other abuses against children, teenagers, parents and elderly. Although the research will largely talk about domestic violence against women. It is also believed by a large no. of population that domestic violence includes physical violence only, whereas domestic violence is a vast issue which has its own forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse. Although it can be used by any of the partner but mainly it is used by men against their wives, the cases of women using the same against their husbands is lesser known. The simple reason provided by the experts is that men are more aggressive and women are gullible by nature. This research will mainly investigate the real causes and solutions of domestic violence.
STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The problem of study is to identify the real causes and solutions of domestic violence against women in India. Many experts have put the blame on nature stating that men being hostile is a natural default whereas women being gullible and easily moldable is nature’s fault, research will explore why men are told to be hostile by nature and why women don’t opt for the laws against such men.
According to Hindustan Times, NCW received 23,722 domestic violence cases in 2020which is the highest in the last six years. The United Nations (UN) agency for improving reproductive and maternal health—United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA, estimated during the early days of the pandemic that if the lockdown imposed, continued for six months, the world could witness around 31 million cases of domestic violence(cited by The Hindu). A 2014 study in The Lancet reports that although the reported sexual violence rate in India is among the lowest in the world, the large population of India means that the violence affects 27.5 million women over their lifetimes. The 2012 National Crime Records Bureau report of India states a reported the rate of domestic cruelty by husband or his relatives as 5.9 per 100,000.
This qualitative study will examine the reasons that leads to domestic violence, the solutions that can prevent it and why even after having laws against domestic violence women don’t opt for them.
The study was geared to achieve the following objectives:
- To explore the causes of domestic violence against women in India
- To examine the ways of preventing domestic violence against women in India.
- To critically review the laws protecting women against domestic violence
- To examine the factors that stop women from using these laws.
The following hypothesis would be examined in this study:
- It is seen that women belonging to less economic or educational areas are more prone to domestic violence.
- Law lacks implementation which makes women vulnerable in front of her husbands and in laws.
- Lack of financial independence leads to women not filing case against their abuser.
- Education can prevent domestic violence.
CAUSES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
- PATRIARCHAL SOCIAL STRUCTURE- In a patriarchal society, the head of the family is a man (mostly the senior one). Men of the family takes all the decision and controls everything and thus women have a minimal say. In this kind of society women are treated as objects rather than a human and men controls them. According to WHO assessment on intimate partner violence men use violence against women as a way of deplaning women for transgression of traditional female roles when they perceive challenges to their masculinity.
- FAMILY SYSTEM– It is usually seen that witnessing the father beating the mother during childhood is a predictor of victimization and perpetration of violence against his wife in adulthood. In addition to this, the age-old custom of dowry and gifts for husband and in-laws has been found to be strongly related to violence against women in India. Also, in the families where men are given too much control or was a victim of an abusive father, the chances of use of domestic violence over a female partner is higher.
- GENDER ROLES– Right from their birth, children are seen differently on the basis of their genders. Girls are taught and reared differently from a boy by giving less food with less nutritional value, in her behavioral pattern she is taught withdrawal and in terms of personality traits expected to be submissive, without questioning to suffer silently. On the contrary boys are taught to be brave, competitive, and strong. They are praised for their toughness and are punished or humiliated if they act like a girl. Treating people differently for their gender is the main cause that leads to women being submissive and men being dominant and hostile in their adulthood.
- ECONOMIC STATUS– Violence against women has nothing to do with the geographical, cultural pr economical level. However, for many women, poverty adds another dimension to the pain and suffering they experience as a result of violence. Being poor they have less opportunities to protect themselves from any kind of abuse, they are unaware of their own rights, and if they are unemployed then they are dependent on their husbands, which makes them even more vulnerable. If the husband is unemployed and dependent on his wife, there are high chances that his ego will hurt, and this frustration can lead to higher cases of domestic violence.
- BIOLOGICAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES- Many a times it is not a gender’s nature but hormonal disbalance that leads to domestic violence. Disbalance in hormones can lead to irrational amount of anger/excitement leading to violence. Also, people using substance abuse like drinking/ smoking, are m ore likely to abuse their partner than a non-smoker. In fact having a traumatic childhood can also lead to domestic violence.
- MEDIA– Media also plays an important role in increasing or decreasing the cases of domestic violence. Media includes television, movies, advertisements, etc. It represents the stereotypical views and role model of a woman, as silent sufferer, relatively powerless and passive. On the contrary a man is shown as dominant, aggressive, and superior to women by his masculine power. It will not be an exaggeration to say that, the programs on television daily soaps, films and videos are the greatest culprit in inculcating wrong values amongst these misguided youth who imitate the same without knowing the consequences.
- ILLITERACY– Lack of education and awareness often leads to women being vulnerable and submissive as they are not aware of their rights and can’t protect themselves. Illiteracy also leads to men not knowing that domestic violence even includes verbal/emotional abuse, many still believe that a single slap doesn’t constitute to domestic violence or that taking dowry in the name of gifts is a crime. So, illiteracy can be said another culprit promoting domestic violence.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS FOR PROTECTION OF WOMEN IN INDIA
- PROTECTION OF WOMEN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005– It captures women’s experience of abuse and includes not only physical violence but also other forms of violence such as emotional / verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. It provides security to women in a family. The extent of the Act covers not only the protection of women who are married to men but also women who are in Live-in-relationship, just as family members including Grandmothers, Mothers, etc. Under this law, women can look for security against Domestic Violence, Financial Compensation, Right to live in their mutual house and they can get maintenance from their abuser in case they are living separated. This law is to guarantee that women can support themselves if they have been abused. It also ensures the protection of women from their abusers.
- SECTION 498A OF IPC– This is a Criminal Law, which applies to husbands or family members of husband who are. Under Section 498A of the IPC, harassment for Dowry by the family members of the husband or by husband is recognized as a Crime including both physical and mental harassment. Despite the fact that Marital Rape isn’t considered as a Crime in India, forced sex with one’s wife can be viewed as Cruelty under this Section. It also includes any and all intentional behaviours against a woman which force the women to attempt suicide or risk to life or grave injury or risk to limb or overall health. Here, health incorporates the physical and mental health of the women.
- DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961– This is a Criminal Law that punishes the giving and taking of Dowry. According to this law, anyone who gives, takes or even demands dowry, can be imprisoned for a half year (i.e. for 6 months) or they can be fined for upto Five Thousand Rupees. It also includes dowry death ie Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relatives shall be deemed to have caused her death.
WHY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS DON’T WORK IN INDIA
While learning the laws the only question that comes in the mind of the readers is that if we have enough laws to protect women, why do so many women go through domestic violence for their lifetime? Why domestic laws don’t work for them? The reason is:
- LACK OF IMPLEMENTATION– Mostly, laws in India are not implemented in a correct way and that’s the reason why many women are still the victims of crimes for which laws already exists. Also, even if the law is used and case is filed, the trial isn’t a speedy one and thus the victim keeps doesn’t get justice.
- SOCIETY’S EXPECTATION FROM WOMEN– Many people in the society still believes in the stereotypical role of women and thus they teach their daughters to be submissive, gullible and a victim, they expect her to silently tolerate any kind of discrimination/ torture/ harassment. Thus many women never try to get out of a toxic relationship. Society still believes that if their daughter/ sister is in a violent relationship they should try to keep that relationship instead of getting out of the same.
- UNAWARENESS/ILLITERACY– Many women especially in rural areas aren’t aware much of their rights, the main reason is lack of education and connectivity. Many women are not allowed to go out of their houses and thus they never see the real world. Many of them don’t even know that they done need to give dowry and to be in a violent relationship.
- FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT– Many women are not allowed to study or work outside because of gender roles. In such circumstances, women are often illiterate and unemployed. Thus, they become dependent on their husband/ father/ brother for their livelihood. If such women enters into a violent relationship, it becomes even more difficult for them when their parents won’t accept them and they are financially dependent on their husband, and lack of awareness of alimony laws becomes another problem here. Most of the women lives in such marriages thinking that they won’t be able to take care of themselves or their children if they have children.
- DISBELIEF IN LAW– Many women belongs to places where people poor implementation of laws exists. Thus, women don’t believe that law can protect them from their hostile husbands. That’s the reason why even when such women get an opportunity to get out of an unhealthy relationship, they decide to stay back, because they somewhere believe that their case will take years and they still might not get full protection from their abusers.
SOLUTIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA
There are many reasons to why domestic violence laws are not effective in India, but does that mean that there is no solution to domestic violence against women? No, there are many solutions with which domestic violence against women can be stopped and reduced to the very extent. Some of these solutions are:
- CONTROL ON MEDIA– Media as we saw in causes is one of the great causes behind domestic violence. If media stop glorifying abusive men in the name of masculinity, and victim women who decides to live with their abusive husband in the name of ‘Bhartiya naari’ concept, domestic violence cases will reduce to a great extent. Also, ban on pornography should be implemented as it is seen that people who are indulged in pornography are more likely to be indulged in domestic violence.
- RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF ALCOHOL– In the causes we also saw how people high on substance abuse are usually more prone to abuse their intimate partner. Thus, if there would be a ban on alcohol and other substance abuse domestic violence cases will be hugely effected in a positive manner.
- EDUCATION AND AWARENESS– In the causes lack of education and awareness was also stated as a prime cause of increase in domestic violence cases. If women are educated, they will be aware of their rights and will learn to fight for themselves, they can contact women helpline numbers, many can even learn self defense to protect themselves. They can be part of movements which are against domestic violence and help several victims just like them. So education and awareness is very important, women can’t do any of the things above stated to protect themselves if they are not educated. Thus both government and citizens should ensure that every girl is taught and no one should be deprived of their right to education.
- FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE– Being financially independent is very important, especially for women these days. As a woman who is not financially independent faces more problem while leaving a violent relationship than those who are financially independent. Many women leave their jobs after getting married and take care of the house but when they face domestic violence, they realise the need of being independent. Thus, it is important for every woman to work outside and earn not only for her financial security but also for her self-respect and confidence.
- IMPLEMENTATION OF WOMEN PROTECTION LAWS– We saw in causes how poor implementation of laws leads to not only increased crimes against women but also women’s disbelief in these protection laws. Thus, if these laws are implemented correctly and looked after by the government, not only the crimes will be reduced but even people’s belief in law will strengthen and where people don’t file cases thinking that law won’t do anything, the unreported cases will also be reduced.
- UPBRINGING– We saw in causes that how since their birth men and women are treated differently on the basis of their gender. Women are taught to be shy, submissive. timid and to tolerate every kind of abuse without uttering a single word whereas men are taught to be aggressive, confident, and insensitive. Thus, both the genders end up becoming different from each other but if they both are taught same traits such as being confident, respective to others, take their own stand, they will be completely a different person. Thus, if men are taught to be kind and women are taught to be able to take their own stand since childhood, it will result in reduced domestic violence cases.
- PARENTAL SUPPORT– This is also another reason why women finds it difficult to leave their partner. Many a times women are not only dependent on the male members of the family but also, they are not allowed to return their house from a failed marriage. Thus, it is important for parents to provide support to their daughters which can assure them that if they enter in a violent relationship their parents will always support them. This itself will reduce most of the domestic violence case.
CASES AND JUDGEMENTS RELATED TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN INDIA
- LALITA TOPPO vs. STATE OF JHARKHAND & ANR,2013
In this case the bench held that the provisions contained in Section 3(a) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which defines the term “domestic violence” also constitutes “economic abuse” as domestic violence. The Court further opined that under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, the victim i.e. estranged wife or live-in-partner would be entitled to more relief than what is contemplated under Section 125 of the CrPC i.e. to a shared household also.
- RESHMA BEGUM vs. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA & ANR,
With reference to the interpretation of the term “relationship” under Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act, the Court noted that the interpretation put on the definition and particularly the words ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ by the Supreme Court in Veluswamy’s casemeans:
- The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.
- They must be of legal age of marry.
- They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage;
- Krishna Bhatacharjee vs. Sarathi Choudhury and Another
The Apex Court while elucidating on the duty of courts while deciding complaints under the Domestic Violence Act stated that:
- It is the duty of the Court to scrutinise the facts from all angles whether a plea advanced by the respondent to nullify the grievance of the aggrieved person is really legally sound and correct.
- The principle “justice to the cause is equivalent to the salt of ocean” should be kept in mind. The Court of Law is bound to uphold the truth which sparkles when justice is done.
- Before throwing a petition at the threshold, it is obligatory to see that the person aggrieved under such a legislation is not faced with a situation of non-adjudication, for the 2005 Act as we have stated is a beneficial as well as assertively affirmative enactment for the realisation of the constitutional rights of women and to ensure that they do not become victims of any kind of domestic violence.
- Ashish Dixit vs. State of UP & Anr.
In this case, the Supreme Court has held that a wife cannot implicate one and all in a Domestic violence case. In this case, the complainant apart from arraying the husband and in-laws in the complaint, had also included all and sundry as parties to the case, of which the complainant didn’t even know names.
When violence is done in a domestic setting it is called domestic violence. It can be used against anyone but most cases shows that it is used against women by male members of their family ie. Father, brother, husband and sometimes even in laws. We saw that there is no single cause leading to domestic violence, and that men aren’t hostile by nature but social factors makes them hostile, same goes for women they aren’t gullible by nature but society teaches them to be one. We saw how media can even lead to domestic violence. We even learnt that even after introducing enough laws against domestic violence women aren’t actually getting justice. We saw how domestic violence can be prevented.
If we focus on all the points mentioned in the above study, we can make out that domestic violence is linked with society’s patriarchal thinking which believes that man should control a woman. Many parents don’t allow girls to study or earn, many are married before 18 because she is considered to be a burden, she is taught all the traits of a stereotypical woman, she is expected to stay silent even if she faces domestic violence, harassment, molestation, rape, etc. Men on the other hand are told to take responsibilities, decisions and to set a control on the family members or be the king of the house. All this itself supports domestic violence. Thus, if we try to aware people against patriarchy domestic violence and other crimes related women will reduce itself.