Domestic Violence

Lively as a bird chirping all around,

Daddy’s Dearest, with dreams profound.

Married and sent away to her “real home”,

Slaved night and day with no reward.

Only to be mercilessly tortured, painting like a piercing sword.

Violence defined her life,

For now, she was wedded to agony, befallen as a sorrowful wife!

Domestic violence includes within its fold destruction, anger and pain occurring at all familiar levels—between couples, in parent-child relationships, sibling relationships and often times, dating relationships. It comes in umpteen number of gruesome forms including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious and sexual abuse which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse such as female genital mutilation and acid throwing that often results in death.Domestic murders include stoning, bride burning, honor killings and dowry deaths.

Women, in general, have been the most frequent victims of domestic violence. The history of it can be traced to the devil “patriarchy” which puts the fairer sex into an extremely inferior and unjust position, often making them puppets in the male-dominated world.

It is one of the most sensitive topics involving women. Speaking in the context of India, there are insurmountable problems when it comes to addressing this issue. From the dearth of extensive reporting to underrated statistics beaming with disparity to the insensitive approach of police and judiciary, it is very grueling to actually combat this problem and eradicate it from its roots. About once every five minutes an incident of domestic violence is reported in India, under its legal definition of “cruelty by husband or his relatives”.

One exceedingly abysmal fact is that the Indian judiciary, along with several law systems across the world haven’t yet accepted the proposition of ‘marital rape’ which actually occurs but has failed to get recognized as a crime against women. It evidently points towards the poignant assumption that a woman’s sexuality is something which is all time available for men to devour and speaking in the context of marriage it is a wife’s duty to supply sex whenever her husband demands, irrespective of her mood, choice or sexual preferences. It’s ignoble and frightfully disrespectful!

Some prominent myths revolving around wife battering are that it exists only in poverty-stricken homes, wife batterers are usually drunkards or are mentally deranged in some way and lastly something is seriously wrong with the wife’s behavior and the husband is driven to beating her. All this is nothing but a fallacy, an obscene attempt to cover the real cause of the tragedy. Studies and cases have clearly shown that men batter women for trivial reasons like coming from the market a ‘little’ late, lack of optimum amount of salt in food, not ironing clothes on time and several other which clearly states that the whole problem is much more deeply-rooted that what it appears to be. The whole way how a woman is perceived, attempted to subvert and dominate, constantly considered to be inferior and too gullible to survive on their own have been major causes of every crime committed against them.

Unfortunately, even the Indian domestic violence law comes with several loopholes. Firstly, it doesn’t consider marital rape as an occurring phenomenon. Secondly, there is great variability in the implementation of the law. Thirdly, the role of the protection officer, who plays a central role in facilitating women’s access to justice under the Act, came in for a lot of attention. There were questions raised about how qualified the protection officers were. According to the LCWRI study, for instance, the majority of protection officers do not have a background in social work or law. Fourthly, although dowry demands are the major cause of domestic violence, the dowry prohibition act allows the exchange of voluntary gifts. Now you tell me, who decides whether the gifts given were voluntary or under duress?

Protests and the coming forward of victims have helped in bringing this topic from the deepest, secluded corners of the home and made it a global issue. The situation has somewhat improved but a long way full of thorns has yet to be trodden upon to combat this crime fully.

Yashika Kant

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