Domestic Violence: The Silent Epidemic

Domestic Violence is a horrible crime that devastates family and cost billions each year. The best way to think of it is domestic violence is like an iceberg, with only the tip showing above water. There is so much that goes on behind closed doors, and sadly, thousands of women and children are hurt by it every day. People don’t feel comfortable talking about domestic violence, yet it happens in all kinds of families across the country both men and women. Victims usually keep quiet until something drastic happens that makes them courageous to talk about it.

Violence against women is a serious problem in India. Overall 1 out of 3 women between the age group of 19 to 25 face domestic violence. Domestic abuse is not only in the form of physical, it can be mental, emotional, sexual, and even verbal abuse.

Forms of Domestic Violence

1.Physical Violence

It is the most visible form of violence. When an intimate partner slaps, punches, kicks, bites, hits, and throws objects at another partner is commonly considered Physical abuse. Nearly two out of five (37%) women face some form of physical violence.

2.Emotional abuse

It has been obtaining more and more recognition in recent years as a common form of violence within a private home. Emotional abuse is mostly done by husbands, In-laws, and co-workers. It includes harassment, threat, and verbal abuse like name-calling, degradation and humiliation, stalking, and isolation.

3.Sexual Assault

Domestic sexual assault is a form of domestic abuse involving sexual coercion and marital rape. Under Indian law, marital rape is not considered an assault. Section 375 of the Indian Penal code considers forced sex marriage illegal when the girl is below the age of 15. While marital rape is considered legal by Indian law.

4.Dowry-related abuse and death

In India dowry-related abuse and death is the most common form of domestic violence. Brides who are not able to bring enough dowries became part of this abuse. Some cases end up in suicide by hanging, setting fire to themselves, and self-poisoning. India has by far the highest number of dowry-related deaths according to Indian National Crime Record Bureau. In 2011 alone, the National Crime Records Bureau reported 8,618 dowry harassment deaths.

Violence against Wife by Husband is widespread

As the name suggests “DOMESTIC”-- something that is near you and in the home, the husband is closest to the wife. Married women are more likely to experience physical and sexual abuse by husbands than anyone else in the house. Slapping is the stereotypical action used by the husband on their wives.34% of married women say that their husbands have slapped them. 15% of women say that they have pulled their hair while 14% of women say that they have shaken them or thrown things at them. The surveys show that spouse-related violence is much higher in poor households 49% than the wealthier households 18%. Nearly 46% of married women with no education have faced the wrath of physical abuse while the percentage increases to 49% when the husband is the one with no education. Spouse violence is less when both husband and wife are educated and working at 23% in comparison to when the husband is more educated than the wife at 36%. Women married to men who drink frequently are likely to face domestic violence in comparison to husbands who don’t drink. However, alcohol is important; it is not the only factor that enhances the increasing prevalence of domestic abuse as 30% of married women face domestic violence even when their husbands do not drink.

It is not compulsory that domestic abuse is only faced by married women. 16% of never-married women have experienced verbal and sexual abuse since the age of 15 by their parents, relatives, and even siblings. Women don’t seek help even when they are facing violence as they are afraid that if the abuser gets to know them, then they will be abused even more. Often physical and sexual abuse causes injuries. Almost 2 out of 5 women report the case. An NFHS survey report, states that 36% of women have had cuts, bruises, or burns; 9% of women have had an eye injury, sprains, or dislocation of arms; 7% of women have had deep wounds, broken bones, or deep injuries.

Steps to prevent domestic abuse

1. Education

Educational training help us to know, how to stop domestic violence. Proper knowledge of the violation of women’s rights lets you figure out how to help the abused.

2.Obtaining consent

To prevent domestic violence, both partners should take each other consent and do not force each other on themselves. Everyone must understand and learn how to treat each other with respect. Marital rape and coercion are considered violations of women’s rights.

3. Professional help

There are so many professionals out there to help the abused. If you are abused or you know any person who is abused then you may consider relevant professionals.

4.Talk to family members, trusted friends

Settling among partners is ideal but sometimes to prevent domestic violence, you have to talk to your family or your most trusted friends.

Some initiatives are taken by the government to prevent domestic violence

1.Sakhi One-Stop Center (OSC)

One-Stop Centre (OSC) scheme was launched in the year 2015-16 to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by any kind of violence, both in the private and public sphere. This scheme is mainly initiated in Punjab, it has the benefit of legal, psychological as well as hospital aid.

2.Swadha Greh Scheme

This scheme provides shelter, food, clothing, health as well as economic and social security to women facing domestic violence.

3.Women Helpline number

The scheme of universalization and women's helpline number is intended to provide 24-hour immediate emergency to women affected by domestic violence.

4.The protection of women from Domestic Violence act 2005

In 2005, the Indian law imposed an act to protect women from domestic violence. In this act a Protection Officer (PO) preferably a woman.

Domestic violence deserves your attention. It is not something to sweep under the rug or push aside because it might feel awkward or uncomfortable to bring up. Real people– people, who for some reason are unable to get help for themselves— are living in violent situations right now. They are at risk, and they need you to be their voice when they can’t find their own. If you see someone being abused, don’t ignore the problem or hide it behind a smile. Speak up! Help them!