We would all undoubtedly be happy to see domestic violence become a thing of the past, whether you’ve experienced it or you know someone who has gone through this or if you are simply a kind and good human being who recognizes violence is never the answer. However, the task appears to be so enormous that you may question how you can possibly contribute.
Do you recall the story about the starfish? A child—let’s pretend it was a small girl who was walking down the beach, and one by one, dropping stranded starfish back into the water. “There must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach,” said an older gentleman who came along to scoff at her good act. ” You’re not going to be able to make a difference.” The little girl picked another starfish and threw it back in the water and replied to the old man “I made a difference to this one”. Same is the case with domestic violence. One person alone can’t eradicate it from this world, but every person can make a difference in the life of at least one woman suffering from domestic violence and like this, everyone doing the same would really make a big difference in the society, and would change the lives of these women.
All over the world women suffer from domestic violence – both verbal and physical abuse, and it is literally the saddest thing. In India too, the rates of domestic violence are very high. This is because of the patriarchal nature of our society.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is defined as violence perpetrated by someone in the victim’s immediate family. Partners and ex-partners, close family members, extended relatives, and family friends are all included.
When the offender and the victim have a close relationship, the term “domestic violence” is used. Usually, there is a power imbalance between them. The victim is reliant on the perpetrator. Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse are all examples of domestic violence.
Why do victims never come forward against domestic violence?
It is noticed in most of the cases that women who face domestic violence don’t usually come forward and if they do, they end up retracting their complaints. Now there are several reasons for this as one can’t always understand the human psychology, but some of the most common reasons are:
• We as a society have been normalizing a man showing dominance over a woman so much that when any women is mistreated she usually lets it go because “every man does it”.
• Many times if the woman even gathers the courage to stand up against the man she is usually shushed down by her own family because “what will the society say”
• Many victims of abuse absorb the guilt and responsibility for the abuse, believing it was their fault instinctively or deliberately. To put it another way, they earned it to some extent. Furthermore, many victims, such as those who have been sexually abused, feel unclean, violated, damaged, flawed, undeserving of love, empathy, or even existence.
• Women also mostly don’t come forward because of fear, fear of the society, of what their families will say and for that matter even the fear of their husbands.
• One of the most common reasons is the child. Women usually don’t want to destroy the family because of which they don’t come forward.
• Women who are not financially dependent and whose parents are conservative enough not to take back their married daughter home generally tend to tolerate all the torture and violence quietly.
Looking past all these reasons and seeking help is very important. No reason is bigger than your own life or protecting your own self. Raising the voice and not saving the culprit is what needs to be done. Even for kids, they deserve a heathy environment. And society needs to point finger on the offender and not the victim.
Read below to know about the laws against domestic violence that can help:
Laws against domestic violence and abuse
Section 498A (for Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty)
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
What specific provisions of law deal with domestic violence?
In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 198-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:
● Conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
● Conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
● Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
● Harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.
The punishment is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty need not be lodged by the person herself Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf.
What are the forms of “cruelty” recognized by the Courts?
● Persistent denial of food
● Insisting on perverse sexual conduct
● Constantly locking a woman out of the house
● Denying the woman access to children, thereby causing mental torture
● Physical violence
● Taunting, demoralizing and putting down the woman with the intention of causing mental torture
● Confining the woman at home and not allowing normal social intercourse
● Abusing children in their mother’s presence with the intention of causing her mental torture
● Denying the paternity of the children with the intention of inflicting mental pain upon the mother
● Threatening divorce unless dowry is given
How to stand up against domestic violence?
The truth is that any societal change begins with one person stepping up and doing what is right. It may perhaps be simpler than you think. Here are a few things you can do right now to make a difference in your surroundings.
Discuss healthy relationships with your children.
According to research, educating children and teenagers about abuse can help to break the pattern of domestic violence later in life. This can be accomplished in part by demonstrating good connections in your household so that your children, or others’, may experience what loving interactions look like.
Begin talking to your children about polite relationships, setting boundaries, and dealing or not tolerating violence as they approach dating age.
Review Your Company’s Policies.
It’s likely that someone you work with is dealing with an abusive partner. Check your company’s domestic violence policy.
Work with your HR department to develop a well-rounded policy that addresses things like taking time off for dealing with court proceedings or healing from injuries, security measures to be taken by the organization on the employee’s behalf, and flexible schedule or work location options to help a survivor avoid his or her abuser if there isn’t one in place or if the one in place is inadequate.
When it comes to societal transformation, awareness is crucial. Talk about domestic violence with your friends, coworkers, and anyone else who will listen. Make your own custom-designed domestic abuse posters and display them in your office, gym, church, or community center to help educate the public.
Volunteer to help in fundraising.
Donations help domestic abuse shelters and anti-violence organizations support survivors and push for change. Consider launching a campaign to raise money for a local shelter or advocacy group. Encourage your family, school, workplace, or an organization to adopt a shelter.
Whatever way you choose to help, be aware that you will almost certainly face opposition and setbacks. But don’t let that stop you from standing against domestic violence! We should do everything in our hands to change the lives of the women and family members who are facing domestic violence and make this world a peaceful and safe living place for them.
And in case you are an unfortunate victim yourself of domestic violence, you need to know that no human deserves to be treated this way, so stand up against it with any fear at all and life will surely be better than this.