We Indians tend to ignore domestic violence saying it is a private matter. Till when are things going to be this way?
If we hear a beating sound from the neighbours’ house, how many of us would go to check what is happening and save whoever is being beaten? Surprisingly, not many. Domestic violence is often ignored by other people saying that it is a private matter or a family affair. One of the most under-reported crimes is domestic violence.
Domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) can account for physical, emotional, or sexual violence a woman suffers from her husband or in-laws. In India, the PWDVA also includes economic abuse under the definition of domestic violence.
In India, 99% of domestic violence crimes go without reporting. And more than 25% of Indian women suffer from domestic violence of some kind according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
Why do we tend to ignore or not report domestic violence? Most of the time, domestic violence in a household becomes an issue only when the woman involved in murdered or commits suicide. Some women suffering domestic violence are not supported even by their own parents or family. When a woman complains to her parents about domestic violence or comes back to her home to escape from it, the parents often force her to go back.
“It is just a slap”, “These things are normal”, “women should know how to ignore these things”, “Matters of the house should stay in the house” and so goes the excuses people put forward as they ignore domestic violence.
But no, even a simple slap should not be ignored. Even if the husband or his family members does not use physical violence, but use emotional abuse, it should not be ignored. This is valid in the case of the opposite scenario too. If a wife is emotionally abusing her husband or causing him any harm in any way, it should not be ignored either. We should not be suppressing these crimes in the name of family’s honour and to prevent a divorce.
Most of the time the mother tries to bear with the violence she is suffering for the sake of her kids, and for them to not lose a stable living environment. However, children who are witnesses to domestic violence or are victims themselves have long-lasting issues with their mental health. Children need a happy and healthy environment to grow up in and if they are being the witness of domestic abuse, they should lose that ‘stable’ living condition which is highly dangerous to them.
We do have laws against every domestic violence crime except for marital rape. Marital rape is still not legally a crime in India, but authorities claim that it can be dealt with through the domestic violence act. However, the problem of domestic violence and marital rape is that it is difficult to prove in court if it is not a grave situation that has physical evidence of the damage. Nobody bothers to report these crimes as they do not want to spend years in court cases and do rounds of the police station.
In this type of situation, what we can do as good citizens is that, if you know anyone who is undergoing domestic violence, please do not close your eyes to them. Help them get out of that situation. If your daughter comes home saying she is getting abused by her husband or in-laws, please do not send her back to that hell. Support and help your daughters, sisters, friends and neighbours. Then only we can make a better world.