Nightmare for Domestic Violence survivors


    In News 

    The brutal murder and mutilation of a young woman by her partner have drawn attention to intimate partner violence, also recognized under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA) as a kind of domestic violence. 

    About Domestic Violence

    • Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. 
      • Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. 
    • Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. 
    • Domestic violence is a punishable offence under Indian law. It is a violation of human rights. 

    Issues /Challenges 

    • Despite the laws existing on paper, women are still largely unable to access the law in practice.
      • Its promise and provisions are unevenly implemented, unavailable and out of reach for most Indian women.
    • the latest round of the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) reveals that 32% of ever-married women aged 18-49 years have ever experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence committed by their husbands, with more rural than urban women reporting experiences of domestic violence. 
    • Despite almost a third of women being subject to domestic violence, the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) reports that only 14% of women who have experienced domestic violence have ever sought help, and this number is much lower in rural areas. 
    • Women who reported experiences of violence to the police were cynical about the outcome. 
      • Across the States, it is observed that the police were more likely to send women back to violent households to reconcile with the perpetrator or use violence against perpetrators as a deterrent instead of filing an official complaint or connecting women to protection officers and other service providers, as the PWDVA outlines they should. 
    • Several States are yet to implement Protection officers. And where they are in post, they are under-resourced, under-skilled and overworked, making their remit impossible.
    • Sometimes Women do not report domestic violence incidents because they feel that things would change
      • women did not want to be a ‘burden’ on others, in particular their families. ‘
      • women believed that they would become a problem or a source of ‘tension’ for their families, bringing them shame and dishonour, irrespective of the survivor’s level of education, caste, or class.
    •  The economic distress faced by millions due to the pandemic exacerbated the problem.

    Governments Efforts 

    • Over 17 years ago the PWDVA, a progressive legislation, was passed, promising a joined-up approach — involving civil and criminal protections — to support and protect women from violence within the household
    • It is a gender-specific law enacted to protect women against domestic violence 
    • The Criminal Law (Amendment), Act 2013 was enacted for effective legal deterrence against sexual offences. 
      • Further, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, of 2018 was enacted to prescribe even more stringent penal provisions including the death penalty for the rape of a girl below the age of 12 years. 
    • The Government has set up the Nirbhaya Fund for projects for the safety and security of women, for which the Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal authority for appraising/ recommending the proposals/schemes to be funded under the Nirbhaya Fund.
    •  In order to coordinate various initiatives for women’s safety, MHA has set up a Women Safety Division.
    • The government of India conducts awareness generation programmes and publicity campaigns on various laws relating to women and their rights through workshops, cultural programmes, seminars, training programmes, advertisements in print and electronic media etc.

    Suggestions and Way Forward 

    • The intervention should begin by focusing on gender equality in education since the quality of education received by women has not equipped them to question the patriarchy.
    • the government should understand and recognise domestic violence of any form as a crime and not just a ‘family issue’. 
    • Trauma-informed institutional response, revamping of the support systems based on impact assessments and increasing the number of one-stop centres with adequate professionals are some of the other measures needed 
    • There is a need for sustained and intensified campaigns and the strengthening of institutions with wider representation.
    • Creating and publicising a directory of services which can be accessed by survivors and their relatives or friends with information and mobile numbers during a crisis.
    • Data and Information systems must be strengthened for better evidence-informed policy to address the issue of domestic violence in India. 

    Mains Practise Question

    [Q] Discuss the prevalence of Domestic Violence against women in India. Does India have any mechanisms in place to help survivors of violence?