Domestic Violence: The unusual rise of the not-so-unusual problem


July 19, 2020, The Liberacy:- Domestic violence has been one of the most prominent issues that our country has been facing for centuries. As India is fighting against the Covid-19 coronavirus, the militant forces are on their toes at the borders, violence has increased behind the closed doors of the Indian households. Where workplaces provided a few hours of safe confinements for the people in abusive households, the lock-down has bought their lives to a standstill.

The Constitution has many laws incriminating various acts of domestic violence. The Dowry Prohibition act being of the earliest laws to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) added in 2005 which includes physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, and economic abuse as domestic violence. Helpline numbers for Women in distress and Legal Aid have been established along with the foundation of the National Commission for Women. Several NGO’s are doing their bit by spreading awareness about the rights women have, providing them with counseling and legal aid.

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Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence

Social media on the other hand have been extensively used to help anyone facing abuse of any sort. Is that all we can do?
The social stigma of divorce, taking actions against in-laws, lack of support from one’s parents, etc. add to the dimensions of this multifaceted issue. While women living in cities can use at least use various tech and medium to get help, the inaccessibility of the same in rural areas adds to the helplessness of the women facing atrocities by their in-laws and partner. Statistics show that 87% of women facing abuse do not report due to the fear of what could happen if they do.

Loss of jobs, weakening economic conditions, a pandemic that humanity is fighting are the very reason that leads to almost 100% increase in the cases of Domestic Violence. With the government’s decision to let liquor shops work amidst the lockdown, this rise in the graph is going to increase further. The data released by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) supports this argument, stating Uttarakhand at the first position with the highest number of cases of domestic violence, Haryana at the second position and Delhi at the third. NALSA has also collaborated with the state and district legal services. One-Stop Centres that will provide legal assistance through teleservices.
Living in a patriarchal society where rape and harassment are the methods sought after to silence a woman, this forward curve in the cases of abuse is expected. Domestic violence is not just an issue faced in rural areas or the masses with a low literacy rate. It is also an issue in the urban areas, in the households where family members are highly educated and are well-to-do. It is generally an issue where the perpetrator, in this case, spouse and in-laws take silence and the helplessness of the victim as the ticket to exploit them for monetary gains as well as to fuel their ego. This exploitation is not only associated with the power or authority of the perpetrator, it is associated with a maleficent psyche that they can get away with it. Is this what an authoritarian figure does when given power? The few matriarchal communities suggest otherwise. The Khasi, to name one follow norms opposite to ours. The woman of the house is the head of the family, the daughters run the family business, it is the woman who decides whose child she wants to bear and the children take their mother’s last name. The wife doesn’t harass the husband for dowry or any financial assistance from his family, also she doesn’t hit her husband and children after getting drunk. It must be so difficult for someone in authority to not abuse her powers and wrap the family in the warmth of her bosom. Also, matriarchal communities have way lower divorce rates as compared to the patriarchal society.

So, should we just flip the coin and let women handle everything? We can try that looking at how far we have got with the existing system. But how about acknowledging that women are also human beings and it is their birthright to be respected and treated with dignity. For now, every third woman in India suffers physical violence at home. A woman is raped every 15 minutes in India, out of which, if reported; only 27.2% of the perpetrators are convicted.
When will this stop?
When you, my dear friend, will realise that you have all the right to be happy and safe, the judicial system is with you, we are with you.
When you, the one putting him/her at a position of authority exploiting the victim just because they can, will remember that the person birthing you is a woman, she is stronger than your anticipation and fears the law of the country.

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