Violence against women has recently grown in India. Domestic violence affects 37% of married women, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3). Domestic violence violates the fundamental right to live in dignity, as well as the right to equality and equal protection under the law provided by the Indian Constitution.
The patriarchal mentality, which sees women as objects and assigns them low social standing, is a fundamental contributor to men’s aggressive behaviour. Patriarchal views of ownership over women’s bodies, labour, reproductive rights, and amount of autonomy give rise to violence.
Domestic abuse and dowry are inextricably linked. A negative link between dowry amount and inter-domestic violence was discovered in a 2005 study published in World Development, showing the hazards of domestic violence if dowry expectations are not met. The dowry prohibition legislation has had little influence on dowry-related violence, and several examples of brides being burnt for dowry have been documented.
Another factor that inhibits women from leaving abusive relationships is that Indian society promotes the image of a tolerant and responsive lady. Furthermore, religion creates a society in which women are expected to be obedient to their husbands. In Indian civilization, for example, ‘pativratanari’ is seen as ideal.
According to research conducted in several regions of the world, any societal system that sees women as essentially less valuable than males is favourable to violence against women. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Difference Index 2019-2020 puts India 112th, showing a significant gender gap. Because men believe they are superior, resorting to violence reinforces and feeds their egoistic superiority complex.
The lack of realistic survival choices, as well as a healthy support system, leads a woman to continue accepting violent behaviour. For example, illiterate women receive little help from their maternal kin and hence continue to suffer as a result of economic reliance.
Women’s lower status is perpetuated by a lack of understanding of their own rights and a pervasive social conviction in women’s subordination. Women are taught that marriage is the ultimate objective they should strive for. All of this indoctrination gradually becomes an Indian woman’s nature.
Poverty, drunkenness, unemployment, and other factors all lead to aggressive behaviour. Women are more vulnerable to violence as a result of the tensions caused by financial difficulty and marital problems. Domestic abuse was became a particular criminal offence in 1983 with the addition of Section 498-A to the Indian Penal Code. This section addresses cruelty committed by a husband or his family against a married lady.
This Act forbids the offering or receiving of dowry. This aims to achieve a shift in India’s dowry culture and attendant violence. The Protection of Women from Domestic Abuse Act of 2005 requires that incidences of domestic violence against women be reported to a Protection Officer. The purpose of the Act was to provide justice to women who may not always desire criminal procedures but would like to maintain the opportunity of reconciliation open.
Gender sensitization of all stakeholders is a key component of effective domestic violence interventions. It should be included in the training curriculum for the police, judges, bureaucracy, policymakers, social workers, counsellors, and other service providers.
Many women are unable to flee domestic abuse because they are ignorant of accessible legal assistance and domestic violence prevention organisations. As a result, providing information about the many services offered is critical.
It is critical to raise public awareness of domestic abuse as a human rights violation. It is necessary to create and implement educational initiatives targeted at altering the attitudes, beliefs, and prejudices of law enforcement, the court, and civilians.
Youth social-emotional learning programmes and couples healthy relationship programmes should be emphasised. So many women stay in abusive situations thinking they would be homeless if they leave with their children. Divorce cash payouts must be far more equitable.
Policy reforms that benefit women financially, such as increasing the minimum wage and providing universal basic income, can make a difference. Article 21 of our constitution guarantees women the right to live in dignity. The Protection of Women from Domestic Abuse Act of 2005 has done nothing to prevent domestic violence. A concerted effort is necessary at both the society and governmental levels.