Domestic Violence in India
Domestic Violence Statistics in India
I know women who prefer to ignore domestic violence. They choose to stay in a violent marriage for the sake of convenience, their kids, social security or because they have been brought up by their mothers to believe that “a little tap” once in a while is all right from a husband. But little tap or no, it’s an attitude no woman need to put up with.
Surveys in the country have shown that a woman or a girl is the victim of:
- rape or molestation every 26 minutes
- dowry death every 102 minutes
- sexual harassment every 51 minutes
- a criminal offence, torture or cruelty every 33 minutes.
A study in New Delhi showed that in almost 94% of cases, the victim and the offender were members of the same family. Nine out of every ten murdered women were killed by their husbands.
Alcohol Abuse Leads to Domestic Abuse
Now these are grim revelations indeed. Having spoken to women’s organisations such as Vimochana and Madhyam in Bangalore, I was shocked to discover that 60 percent of marriages are riddled with domestic violence and that most women are afraid to even talk about it to their closest friends, let alone report it to the cops. The cops being men most of the time, take domestic violence as part and parcel of marriage and are hesitant about getting involved in “family matters”. In fact, the Inspector in a certain police station turned around and told my friend who was constantly tortured by her alcoholic husband that even he sometimes slapped his wife and got drunk!
“I just didn’t know where to turn for help,” she says. “I had none of my own family members in the city and so finally, I decided to go to a women’s organisation. They directed me to a lawyer who gave me free and valuable advice. I wanted to know where I stood legally in the matter and whether I could obtain a separation or a divorce based on the evidence I had – which wasn’t really much. No one was willing to testify in court for me. When the lawyer suggested I lodge a police complaint in the Women’s Cell, I did so. And the women actually turned up at home to question my husband. I was warned by the organisation that often complaints caused the violence to increase. But I had to take that chance.
I think he got so scared by my determination that he didn’t dare to beat me up for telling on him.”
Finally my friend did get her freedom, but only through a legal injunction that forced her husband out of her house. “I’d listened to his promises and excuses for eight years during which I really felt like I was in a trap because he simply refused to leave me alone. We even went to three marriage counselors, but that too didn’t work. I didn’t want my young son to witness any more horrifying scenes or live in that constant tension. Holidays and birthday celebrations turned ugly because of his drinking. I cared a damn what anyone had to say about me.”
Reporting Abuse Doesn't Necessarily Lead to More Domestic Violence
Her example inspired a neigbour, a woman who suffered many “taps on the cheek” to register a case against her own husband. Her twelve year old son accompanied her to the police station and testified to the violence.
Acquaintances were stunned. How could this woman, so traditional and orthodox in her demeanour (although she was a bank employee) rebel in this way? Many of them began to shun her. She had, after all, got herself branded as a bad wife, whereas the ideal wife was always submissive. But this lady didn’t care either and today her husband has stopped threatening to throw her out or beat her up. Fortunately for her, she had her son and her brothers come to her rescue.
If only all women could be as brave and rational! To women who refuse to rebel , hope is always lurking around the corner no matter how violent their husbands have been in the past. Studies have shown that violent men remain violent. And `love’ really has nothing to do with it. They could ‘love’ their wives madly and still be violent, alcohol or no. I say ‘love’ in quotes because it could never be love anyway. Love is unconditional and does not hurt or harm the beloved.
Here are two examples of brave women that shatter the myth of increased violence after a police complaint. Such defensive and bold behaviour keeps the offenders on their toes and proves to them that their victims are not going to take it any longer. Are you battered or psychologically abused? Rise up against domestic violence and fight for your rights. And your sanity.