Research Scholar, Department of Sociology, FSS, B.H.U., Varanasi
Feminism is a new definition of new womanhood. It is a philosophy that is based on historically and culturally concrete realities and level of consciousness, perception and actions. A feminist therefore, is one who believes in women movement which aspires to : equality in employment, provision for a day care of children, reproductive freedom, safe and voluntary assistance for day care so as to facilitate the better functioning of work and motherhood, right to control their own bodies, right to living free from the violence and the right to decide whether a pregnancy should or should not be terminated.1 For the practices of feminist and government; globalization becomes the era of women empowerment. By Indian government year 2001 was declared as women empowerment year. Search for identity has taken speed. Women stood against men as challenge. At home as well as at work place, they play their role very well. Now it is said that the women enjoy great freedom and prestige.
In global scenario people celebrate; women’s day, mother’s day, daughter’s day but the ground reality is totally different from these facts because women are still exploited socially, economically, physically and sexually everywhere in the name of traditions and some times by social sanction. They are subjected to face domestic violence which penetrates all aspects of women life. The aim of the present paper is:
1. To show the situation of domestic violence in women’s life; and
2. To seek remedy from domestic violence by them themselves and feminists.
Domestic violence refers to violence against women especially in matrimonial homes or in their parental homes. It is not limited to her harassment as a young wife for more dowries. The issues deal with all forms of violence against women in the entire role they play in society that is as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “Domestic violence between members of a household, usually spouses, and assault or other violent act committed by one member of a household against another”.2 Sociological studies indicate that the acts are like a means of controlling the victim’s thoughts, feelings and behavior.3 Violence includes abuse of all kinds. It may be physical, sexual, economical or psychological. It reflects threat or aggressive behavior towards woman not only to her physical being but towards her self-respect and self-confidence.
In the male dominant Indian society, domestic violence against women begins even before birth. In many cases if the unborn foetus is determined as female by amniocentesis, abortion follows immediately. Dr. Agnihotri pointed out that in India the sex ratio is highly masculine, there are only 933 women per 1,000 men, according to the 2001 census. Another noticeable trend is the urban-rural factor. The female sex ratio is lower in urban areas. Sadly, instead of raising the status of women the urbanization has caused their elimination. Urban areas have superior medical technology like sex determination tests and abortion, and thereby they are contributing to declining ratios. Ironically, there have been cases of male foetuses being aborted on the pretext of being female.4 In Bombay centre out of 8,000 abortions’ 7,999 were those of female foetuses. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru of revered memory had said “ I am proud of the women of India. I am proud of the beauty, grace, charm, modesty, intelligence and spirit of Indian women. Only they can do it, not the men”5 Alas! In spite of all these beautiful phrases, the Indian girl is born to be but a blossom in dust. If girl child is luckily enough to be born, she experiences discrimination in her infancy. Girl Children are fed less and for shorter period and are not given foods like butter or milk, which are reserved for boys. In the year 2004 one Jyoti was harassed by her step-mother and brother. She is now in a state of mental injury. (Hindustan : 15/2/2004, Varanasi)
Sexual exploitation of girls and women in families is common, but rarely reported. In New Delhi, Times of India (4/4/2004) reported that 20-yr-old woman alleged rape by brother. An analysis of Delhi police records for the year 1996 shows that 76% of the recorded rape cases occurred within the family, 82% rapists were Known to the victims, 30% of those raped were little girls in the age of seven and tem. Almost 40% of the reported cases of rape took place in the women’s own home. About 70% rape cases remain unreported or unregistered.6 A recent analysis done by the Crimes against Women Cell, Delhi Police, points out that out of the 143 rape cases registered between January and June 1992, 107 or almost 75 percent were in the age range 7-18 years. Forty of the rapists were immediate neighbours and seven were relatives. (Karlekar, 1999:11).7 Shakshi N.G.O. in Delhi surveyed 357 school girls, and found that 63% were sexually exploited, 22% have faced eve-teasing and 26% were subjected to misbehaviour. It is shocking that in 30% cases the victimizers belong to victim’s family.8 In June 2007, father-in-law tries to rape his daughter-in-law (Dainik Jagran, Varanasi). The November 2000 Department of Justice report is full of the prevalence, incidence and consequences of intimate partner violence against women. The survey on National violence against women finds that the 22% of surveyed women were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or date in their lifetime.9
Overall, one-third of women in age 15-49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 to 10 has experienced sexual violence. In total, 35 percent have experienced physical or sexual violence. This figure translates into millions of women who have suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of husbands and other family members.10 National family health survey-3 analysis that 40% married women are victim of domestic violence.11 International centre for research on women (ICRW) report says that family members kill more women each year than cancer or accidents.12 Such attitude towards domestic violence have been narrated by the victims themselves. It is surprising that nearly 51% of the 75,000 Indian men surveyed think hitting or beating their wives is acceptable for certain reasons, particularly if she disrespects her in-laws. A Smaller number think bad cooking or refusing sex as reasons for physically assaulting their wives.13 In Varanasi from June to December 2007 Dainik Jagran News paper reported that 914 cases of domestic violence, 372 cases of dowry death and 1476 cases of exploitation for dowry were registered in the state women commotion. In Times of India (17/1/2004, New Delhi) a victim says that in-laws wanted son so they harassed her. In Meerut a man cuts his wife and child’s fingers and beats the child with a car wiper for 2 lakh rupees in dowry continues to be the signature of marriage. Rainuka Dagar says, “It is taken as a normative custom and dowry harassment as a part of family life”. Divorce is another part of domestic violence. It is a considered shameful admission of a woman’s failure as a wife or daughter-in-law. In 1990, divorced women made up a miniscule 0.08 percent of the total female population.”14
These are the examples of exploitation of common women. Today, women play different roles in different fields: doctor, engineer, scientist, astronaut etc. They are well educated and form part of glamour’s world also. In spite of all these achievements they are still being subjected to domestic violence. Famous model Alicia Rawath and T.V. actress Shweeta Tiwary are burning examples. They have been exploited by their husbands.
Even elder women do not get-rid-of violence. Generally the younger generation does not have any respect for their elders. They see them as useless things to be thrown out. According t6o Help Age India, a leading Delhi based NGO that works for the elderly; four out of 10 elders are victims of abuse. Shockingly, a staggering 47.3% of the perpetrators of such abuse are own kith and kens. Often, even grandchildren are found guilty. In fact, 8.6% of the abusers are grandchildren.15 In 2007 Dainikjagran reported that a son with the company of his wife threw acid on his own mother for the cost of property. Victimization of elder women is less noticed by people because their physical and mental strength become less and they totally depend on their family. They hesitate to report about exploitation also. The increasing number of cases of abuse and neglect towards elders is alarming Indians can longer boast of being proponents of traditional family.
The present report by its different aspects suggests that, in global era the main cause of domestic violence is rooted in. Geeta Rao says “Domestic violence occur due to cause of economic costs because,..................................... .”16 Besides the economic causes the evaporating human nature also, increases violence in the society. Married and unmarried women both are victim of domestic violence. Anindita Sengupta is a writer, journalist and poet based in Bangalore, India. She is also the founder and editor of Ultra Violet a collablog of young Indian feminists. “Like in other countries, violence against women cuts across class and economic status in India too.”17 She has observed.
Domestic violence is a burning problem in all over societies. There are numerous factors such as socio-cultural, structural, economic, pathological and psychological for domestic violence. A new law “Domestic Violence Act 2005” has been brought into existence. But legislation can only be a part of the solution to a problem which is deeply rooted in social and cultural attitudes towards the sexes. It is not enough to provide legal means to the wormen or the ensure that they can be economically independent. On the face of the said affairs there is a need to set up women’s organizations in every area to fight this aspect of women oppression. Feminism is an awareness of women’s oppression and exploitation in society, at work and within the family, and a conscious action taken by women and men to change this situation. For example  A man, who watches the new bride next door being harassed for dowry by her in-laws can follow this by making a police complaint or by informing the girl’s parents about harassment  A women by refusing her marriage into a family demanding dowry. The two operative words here are awareness followed or accompanied by conscious action.
The point that women are often their worst enemies should not be forgotten. So they should not poison the ears of their sons and brothers respectively and antagonize them against their wives. Women must help themselves and each other. The government cannot do anything. It is the people concerned who must be sensible. Changing social norms and values, socialization process and the gaining of the awareness for changing traditional thinking of men and women make possible the dream of sweet and safe home.
1. Chatterji, soma. A; The Indian Women in Perspective; Ajanta publications, New Delhi; 1993
2. Black’s Law Dictionary, VIIth Ed., 1999, p. 1564
3. Dutta, Nirmal; Domestic Violence Tolerating the Intolerable”. Lawyers Collective, january 1999, pp. 1-12, at p.1
4. http://www.hinduonnet.com/ thehindu/mp/2002/12/09/stories/2002
5. Mascarchras, Dr. Maries. M; Feminism hijack down the slippery slope: Foeticide to infanticide; S.sood: violence against women; Arihant publishers, Jaipur; 1990
6. Yadav, Sushma and Anil Dutta Mishra; Patterns of gender violence; Radha publications, New Delhi; 2002
7. Saravanan, Sheela; Violence against Women in India: A Literature Review; Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST); March 2008
8. Gathita, Josef; Bharat me Balika: Dharma, Hinsa, Chamta evam Parivartan; Concept publishing company, New Delhi; 2002
9. Google search: Impact of domestic violence on women health
10. Google search: Domestic%20 violence.pdf
11. Hindustan; News paper; Varanasi,12 Oct, 2007.
12. Yadav, Sushma and Anil Dutta Mishra;
13. Google search/broken home or broken people open Democracy News Analysis.htm; by Anindita Sengupta; 29/22/07
14. Google search/condition of women in india.htm, Chronic Hunger and the status of Women in India; Carol s. Coonrod, June 1998
15. Bahuguna, Nitin Jugran; Victims of their children;; December 2007, Vol.54, No.9
16. Hindustan Times; news paper; Lucknow,2 July, 2008.
17. Google search/broken home or broken people open Democracy News Analysis.htm; by Anindita Sengupta; 29/22/07