Monday, 1 October 2012

Domestic Violence in Indian Society

Neha Chaudhari*& Pawan Kumar**

            Domestic violence is as old as emergence of family in human history. It is prevalent in almost all the society across the world. Present article argues that at every stage in so called civilized and educated society of India there is discrimination and violence against girl children and later women within the household, either natal or conjugal. Violence against women in the household is used as a way of securing and maintaining the relations of male dominance and female subordination, which is central to the patriarchal social order. It is spread in all over India in different magnitude. Although metro cities showed less rate of domestic violence but the situation is not satisfactory. Despite the fact that a wide range of interventionist services exist and there is a very progressive legislation against domestic violence in India due to various cultural and structural constraints, women find it difficult to access them. There is an urgent need for awareness among women regarding their legal rights, welfare programmes, gender equality, and biased socialization. Local organizations as well as media may play a significant role regarding this issue.
            Introduction- Domestic violence is the most prevalent, ancient, ignored and hidden violence against women and girls since the time immemorial in human civilization. It is the most serious violation of all basic rights that a woman suffers in her own home at the hand of members within her own family usually by men. Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation. Domestic violence,  so defined, has many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexualabuse; emotionalabuse,controlling,or,domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and  economic deprivation. The US Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner".  Present paper is focused on domestic violence against women in Indian Society. In the era of globalization nature of domestic violence has changed. Globalization is a social process which is moving in the direction of creating a global society by involving the countries of the world in various kind of economic, political, educational and culture exchange and interdependencies. But on the issue of impact of globalization we can say that all countries of the world do not enjoy the same social, culture and economic status. It may produce effects detrimental to the interests of the Indian society. There will be further deterioration of the status of women in India due to the fact globalization will introduce western culture which will be dominant all over India1. Secondly education has been regarded as the most significant instrument for changing women’s subjugated position in the society. It not only develops the personality and rationality of individuals, but qualifies them to fulfill certain economic, political and cultural functions and thereby improves their socio-economic status. One of the direct expectations from educational development in a society is the reduction in the inequality among individuals and that is why Education was included as the basic right of every human being in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The constitution of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also directs its efforts to achieve `The ideal of equality of educational opportunity without regard to race, sex or any distinction, economic or social2. Attributable to globalization and an educated society, standards of living have changed successfully but, both of them became failure to change the traditional thinking of male supremacy which makes domestic violence against women most serious problem in India.
            Violence may be defined as the use of force against some body. Women and violence are two opposite polls in the social milieu, while the women create human being; the violence is distraction of creatures. What an irony of fate3?  “Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women...” (The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, General Assembly Resolution, December 1993.)
Collins dictionary defines violence as:
a) Behavior which is meant to hurt or kills people.
b)  Great deal of energy used in doing something usually because you are very angry.
c) Words, action or other forms of expression which are critical or destructive4.
        The family is often equated with sanctuary – a place where individuals seek love, safety, security, and shelter. But the evidence shows that it is also a place that imperils lives, and breeds some of the most drastic forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls. It is violent victimization of women, within the boundaries of family, usually by men or his family”5. Which affects women of any age, she may be a girl child, unmarried, married or elderly women including a widow or such women to whom men have marriage like relationship. Domestic violence refers to the use of physical or emotional force or threat of physical force, including sexual violence in close adult relationships’. Violence in the domestic sphere is usually perpetrated by males who are, or who have been, in positions of trust and intimacy and power – husbands, boyfriends, fathers, fathers-in-law, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, sons, or other relatives. Domestic violence is in most cases violence perpetrated by men against women. Women can also be violent, but their actions account for a small percentage of domestic violence. The term ‘domestic violence’ goes beyond actual physical violence. It can also involve emotional abuse; the destruction of property; isolation from friends, family and other potential sources of support; threats to others including children; stalking; and control over access to money, personal items, food, transportation and the telephone’. ‘Domestic Violence occurs in all social classes and is equally prevalent in both rural and urban settings. In the vast majority of cases where violence occurs among persons who are known to one another, researches have shown that women are injured and men perpetrate the assault’.
       Violence against women is often a cycle of abuse that manifests itself in many forms throughout their lives. Even at the very beginning of her life, a girl may be the target of sex-selective abortion or female infanticide in cultures where son preference is prevalent. During childhood, violence against girls may include enforced malnutrition, lack of access to medical care and education, incest, female genital mutilation, early marriage, and forced prostitution or bonded labour. Some go on to suffer throughout their adult lives – battered, raped and even murdered at the hands of intimate partners. Other crimes of violence against women include forced pregnancy, abortion or sterilization, and harmful traditional practices such as dowry-related violence, sati (the burning of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband), and killings in the name of honour. Moreover, it might be too terrible in later life of widows. Violence against women can be of different types and of different magnitude (measured in terms of its effect on victim’s physical, mental and emotional health) also.
       The most alarming revelation depicted in the article, are the results of a study determining a correlation between an increase in domestic violence and an increase in a woman’s education level along with the revelation that 45% of Indian women are abused by their husbands and nearly 75% of women who reported abuse have attempted suicide.
Female Literacy in India
            According to the Census of India, held in 2001, the percentage of female literacy in the country was 54.16 per cent. The literacy rate in the country has increased from 18.33 per cent in 1951 to 65.38 per cent as per 2001 census. The female literacy rate has also increased from 8.86 per cent in 1951 to 54.16 per cent. It is noticed that the female literacy rate during the period 1991-2001 increased by 14.87 per cent whereas male literacy rate rose by 11.72 per cent only. Hence the female literacy rate actually increased by 3.15 per cent more compared to male literacy rate.
        Number of Educated Job Seekers Women as on December 2004 was 7537.7 thousand. Educated Women at the end of 2004 accounted for 25.8 per cent of the total educated job-seekers6.
Scope of Risk- There is no single factor to account of domestic violence against women in Indian society which is primarily a male dominated society. The big causes of domestic violence are biased socialization process and discrimination against girl child which make women convicted about her subordinate status. In the era of globalization although social realities of life have change drastically, the old thinking about submissive and dependent role of women has not changed so the men have always been taught to perceive themselves as the superior sex, said Jyotsna Chatterjee, director of the Joint Women's Program, a women's resource organization based in New Delhi. It is this conditioning, she said, that makes them believe they have to control their wives, especially if they are considered disobedient. The husband still expects her to play the role of traditional wife in home but outside he expects her to act like a morden women. He want his wife is educated, morden and working women but didn’t faith her if she have any male friend.
          Although men's preoccupation with controlling their wives declines with age – as does the incidence of sexual violence – researchers found that the highest rates of sexual violence were among highly educated men. Almost thirty two percent of men with zero years of education and 42 per cent of men with one to five years of education reported sexual violence. Among men with six to 10 years of education as well as those with high school education and higher; this figure increased to 57 percent. A similar pattern was seen when the problem was analyzed according to income and socio-economic standing. Those at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder, migrant laborers, cobblers, carpenters, and barbers; showed a sexual violence rate of 35 per cent. The rate almost doubled to 61 per cent among the highest income groups. Researchers have not determined why men with higher incomes and educations are more likely to be violent towards women7.
             According to National Family Health Surveys (NFHS-III) for India 2005-06, domestic violence against women is defined as an act involving physical and sexual violence for all women by anyone or spousal physical, sexual, and emotional violence for ever-married women or combination of both. Spousal violence is found that the most common form of violence against women and a significant proportion of ever married women in the age group of 15-49 usually are more vulnerable to this kind of violence (which includes physical sexual or emotional violence). After education, drinking habit of male partner is the most profound reason for violence8.   The survey showed that countrywide more women face violence in rural areas (40.2%) as compared to those in the urban areas (30.4%). In Bihar, women in urban areas fared worse than those in rural areas. While 62.2 per cent underwent the trauma in urban areas, it was 58.5 per cent women in villages.  It is followed by Rajasthan (46.3%), Madhya Pradesh (45.8%), Tripura (44.1%), Manipur (43.9%), Uttar Pradesh (42.4%), Tamil Nadu (41.9%), West Bengal (40.3%) and Arunachal Pradesh (38.8%).  Among the metros, the fairer sex was better off in Delhi (16.3%) and Mumbai (19.5%) recorded relatively low percentage as compared to Chennai (40.6%) and Kolkata (26.7%). Nearly, 17 per cent of women in Goa have experienced violence, with 17.2 per cent of women in rural areas at the receiving end as compared to 16.4 per cent women in urban areas.  In Chhattisgarh, a total of 30 per cent of women suffered at the hands of their husbands, while in Jharkhand, the figure was 37 per cent. About 40.8 per cent of women in Jharkhand villages found the going tough as compared to 24.6 per cent in the urban areas. In the hilly state of Uttarakhand, nearly 28 per cent of women experienced violence, with those in villages (29.8%) fared worse than their urban counterparts (22.8%). After Himachal Pradesh, women fared relatively better in Jammu and Kashmir (12.6%), Meghalaya (13.1%), Nagaland (15.4%), Sikkim (16.5%) and Kerala (16.4%).
Other states where women find themselves vulnerable are Assam (39.6%), Arunachal Pradesh (38.8%), Orissa (38.5%), Maharashtra (30.7%), Andhra Pradesh (35.2%), Haryana (27.3%), Gujarat (27.6%), Punjab (25.4%), Mizoram (22.5%) and Karnataka (20%)9.
According to the study conducted in the year 2002, 45 per cent of Indian women are slapped, kicked or beaten by their husbands. India also had the highest rate of violence during pregnancy. Of the women reporting violence, 50 per cent were kicked, beaten or hit when pregnant. About 74.8 per cent of the women who reported violence have attempted to commit suicide.
Kumud Sharma of the Centre for Women's Development Studies in New Delhi traced the correlation between education and domestic violence to patriarchal attitudes. "Educated women are aware of their rights," she said. "They are no longer willing to follow commands blindly. When they ask questions, it causes conflicts, which, in turn, leads to violence. In many Indian states, working women are asked to hand over their paycheck to the husband and have no control over their finances. So, if they stop doing so or start asserting their right, there is bound to be friction." Domestic violence experts say the problem in India stems from a cultural bias against women who challenge their husband's right to control their behavior10.
Combating domestic violence is a challenging task how can people persuaded to stop accepting or condoning violence committed by their own friends and relatives. The Government of India had taken a bold step. Domestic violence act is in existing. But law is not a neutral force in male dominant societies. Government should ensure proper enforcement of existing laws related to women’s rights. Women should be made aware of National Commission for Women. The offices of the National Commission for Women should be opened at the district and lower levels. Women themselves should also be motivated to enhance self-esteem, self respect and self-confidence. Awareness about gender equality and women’s rights should be instilled in boys and girls from a very early age in order to bring about a change in the mindset of the future generation which should be possible by stopping biased socialization and structural change in socialization process. Media weather print or electronic may play an important role regarding equality of gender. Discussions on women’s issues with victims and key personnel could be promoted through the media, to give a new venue to the airing of the complaints and finding solutions to the offences. Media should be used to sensitize the officials and the public about domestic violence so as to develop a positive attitude towards women in general, and women victims, in particular. Censoring of the programmes should be implemented effectively, so that violence and negative impact programmes do not get undue attention of the public.
Indian women have mastered anything and everything which a woman can dream of. But she still has to go a long way to achieve equal status in the minds of Indian men. The process of modernization should tend the women to change their conservative attitude and to gain awareness for changing their traditional values in appositive direction.
1.  Yadav, Sushma & Anil Mishra, Oatterns of Gender violence, Radha pub, New Delhi, 2002.
2.  Impact of Education on Domestic Violence & Development of Women through Education.
3.  Awasthy, Abha, Intruductory Letter of Seminor on violence against women, L.U., 1992.
4.  Veer, Udai, Crime against women, Anmol publication PVT. LTD, 2004.
5.  Sood, Sushma, Violence against women, Arihant publication, Jaipur (India), 1990.
6.  Majumdar, Swapna, In India, Domestic Violence Rises with Education,  November 6, 2003.
7.  Domestic Violence and Women’s Health in India: Evidence from Health Survey&-ASARC Working Paper 2009/13n Manoj K. Pandey, P Singh, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi,
8.  National Family Health Survey, (2006), Government of India, New Delhi.
Dr. Neha Chaudhari* and Pawan Kumar**
Assistant Professor in D.A.V. P.G. College,  B.H.U.,

**Research Scholar in Department of Community Medicine, I.M.S., B.H.U., Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India