Domestic Violence is a much-debated topic worldwide and many international organizations are working to stop the domestic abuse of women and children. This study only shows how different international studies have made this problem gender bias and completely ignored the other side of the issue.
In 1996, a six-member team from USAID and PROWID (Promoting Women in Development) has conducted a nationwide study on various problems affecting women and to find out way out to empower them and bring them to the mainstream of society. They have identified three sectors to address women’s issues – 1> political participation, 2> access to microfinance and 3> Violence against women.
This 1996 report further states – nearly 65% women in India is illiterate, they are 24% of the workforce, 21% professional and technical workers and only 2% managers. UN has observed that despite recent economic gains in India in 1996 women participation in economic activities actually declined.
One of the biggest observations made in this report was ‘Inter generational cycle of violence’ stating that any child observing violence in his/her childhood are more likely to become batterers themselves. This proves that domestic violence can affect boys/men equally badly but unfortunately this study or women’s groups have not taken up any precautions for the boys/men growing up in such environments.
The different categories of violence against women observed are – foeticide, infanticide, child marriage, forced marriage, kidnapping and abduction (IPC 363-373), forced prostitution, molestation(IPC 354), battering, rape (IPC 376), murder / dowry deaths (IPC 302/304B), incest, sexual harassment (IPC 509), torture (498a), stigmatization and old age desertion.
The different forms of violations against women noted were – kicking, spitting, beating with hands or objects like belts and bottles, pulling hair, throwing acid or boiling water, shooting, strangulation, burning with cigarettes or other objects, pushing and pinching as well as verbal abuse and mental torture and cruelty (United Nations 1989:13).
This study also says that husbands start feeling insecure as their wives start earning and women star facing new violence in these circumstances. It is noted that wives very often are scared to let their husband’s know of any family planning measures they are taking for a possible battering by the husband.
This report goes on to recommend that India should –
- End the marital rape exemption
- Broaden the purview of 498a to cover for domestic violence
- Pass a law to providing wives easy divorce citing cruelty (IrBM)
- Enact fast, inexpensive, comprehensive civil protection order relief and also equally fast, comprehensive criminal motion procedures (DVA 2005)
- Easy enforcement of domestic violence laws with judges, police, and govt. bodies
They further reported and stressed that passing new laws should be rather quick and the implementation can be done later on.
This report was the basis of formation of our domestic violence act 2005 and stricter implementation of 498a.
One fundamental point that these researchers have avoided was to address the domestic violence issue from a gender-neutral perspective and create a framework that investigates and punishes the criminal but not someone based on gender.
In a June 2000 report UNICEF, in its ‘Innocent Digest ‘publication on domestic violence against women and children projected domestic violence as a widespread issue in every country. They reported the following –
In industrialized countries like Canada (29%), Japan (59%), New Zealand (20%), Switzerland (20%), UK (25%) and USA (28%) women ‘reported being physically assaulted by their current or former partner’.
India – this report says “More than 45% married men acknowledged physically abusing their wives”.
This report shows many factors attributing to the domestic violence against women and confers the onus to curb any such violation on the state.
This report again fails to look at the issue of domestic violence from a gender-neutral perspective and blames the husband and his family for all intimate partner violence. Thus this study completely ignored the fact that even men may need protection from domestic violence by their abusive partners.
In 2012, researchers from All India Institute of Medical Sciences tried finding out the truth of domestic violence in India. In its report titled “Inventory of United Nations system activities to prevent and eliminate violence against women,” they have standardized the definition of Intimate Partner Violence as – “Physical, Sexual or Psychological harm by a current or former spouse or partner”.
Even though they have used a gender-neutral term to define the domestic violence these researchers also concentrated their effort on DV on women and tried to project their husbands / boyfriends as responsible for all domestic violence.
Let’s look at the data presented in this study to conclude that husband is the abuser. In table 1 on page 142 of the online journal it shows the following figures–
1. In Delhi, 350 women aged 15-49 was surveyed and 42.8% reported one/other type of violence and 29.1% reported such violence in last one yr. (Vachher et al 2010). – *Please note, that the data of 35 years of one’s lifespan is considered to conclude domestic violence. I am sure if the same survey can be done with husbands, we will get a similar figure.
2. In Bangalore, out of 744 married women between 16-25 years were surveyed, and 56% ‘ever experienced physical domestic violence’ and 27% reported domestic violence in last 6 months (Roca et al 2009). – *Again, the data is captured only for women. Similar effort was not done for husbands.
3. From Orissa, Bihar, WB, Jharkhand states a sample of 1718 and 1715 married women and men respectively the lifetime occurrence figures were, 13.2%, NA, 14.6% and 21.1% respectively. Overall prevalence of any kind of violence in eastern India is shown as high as 56% for Jharkhand. – *here again the study took figure for lifetime violence against women, meaning this can’t be attributed to husbands alone. Also the similar figure is not available for abuse of men.
4. Koenig et al in 2006 reported physical violence and coercive sexual intercourse for one’s lifetime in around 32% married women in UP. – *So even one incidence in one lifespan would have been reported here as violence.
5. Kumar et al. in 2005, surveyed 9938 women of the age group 15-49 years, and 40% of them reported any violence in their marriage. – *so even one violence in one’s 35 years (15 – 49 yrs) marriage is reported here. Is this really significant and worth reporting?
6. Martin et al in 1999, surveyed 6700 married men and found that 18-45% of them physically abused their wives and 4-9% admitted forcing their wives for sex. – Not sure about the range given in the data, hope the authors will have better explanation. *Here too irrespective of their age group even if the man has forced his wife once in his marital life is reported. One can argue that if the same question is asked to the wife of how many times she would have forced the man to have sex in her lifetime, we would have got same response.
From the above analysis we can find that in ALL the surveys, the researchers tried to find a solution to a problem that is gender neutral in nature, in a gender-biased way. Also even going by the traditional definition of beating a wife is considered to term an act of domestic violence, then why should the same be not termed as DV when the wife does the same? If today, media, NCW and various TV programs portray husband as a wife beater and in India, 40% of wives are beaten by their husbands, that doesn’t mean that this 40% is getting beaten every now and then. This only means as the various study suggests that they were beaten up in their marital lifetime (that may be as high as 35 years). Similar data was not taken for husbands to see how many of them were subjected to violence by their own wife or how many times their wife has forced them for sex.
It is also shocking to note that this bias exists in all studies including the studies done by various UN groups, NGOs and also the latest one by All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Even though all of them considered a gender-neutral definition of Domestic Violence, all of them concluded as the wife is the sole victim and husband the sole abuser in a domestic relationship.
We need to keep in mind that all these studies are solely conducted with a preconceived notion that the only wife is the victim and the husband the abuser, so no matter whether the researchers take up a gender-neutral definition of the issue, they eventually end up in the same conclusion. Like the data presented above that shows the data collected in one’s lifetime and hence doesn’t represent anything to portray the real problem of domestic violence in India.
In 2011, the UN report on women (full report can be viewed on http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color.pdf ) conducted a study on violence against women, on different parameters. But here too, it was considered that only women are subjected to violence and the percentage was measured from a sample group. This study never tried to capture domestic violence data as such.
The chart is shown in this report Fig. 6.1 and 6.2 (Proportion of women experiencing physical violence (irrespective of the perpetrator) at least once in their lifetime and in the last 12 months, 1995–2006 (latest available)) on pg. 131 of the report shows 20% of ever-married women experienced violence. So this data again includes violence happened against a woman in her lifetime and can’t be considered as a frequent problem. Similarly, this data completely ignores the violence faced by men.
Also, the same report is silent on ‘Indian women facing intimate partner sexual violence at least in their lifetime or within last 12 months of reporting period only says that this is not a major problem in India as otherwise projected (Fig 6.6).
Many international experts have commented on this report have observed that UN is ignoring the mutual nature of this violence and hence the problem will not be resolved this way – (http://www.mediaradar.org/un_violence_report_dv_quotes.php)
Few comments are mentioned below –
“Research on intimate partner violence consistently finds that men and women use similar types of aggression. By ignoring the mutual nature of much partner violence, the UN ensures that both women and men will continue to be victimized in this way.”
– Nicola Graham-Kevan, Ph.D., University of Central Lancashire, England
“Much domestic violence research conducted in North America has been so biased that it might be called ‘junk science.’ It has used selective data and interpreted results in a way that depicts all males as real or potential perpetrators while downplaying female violence.” – Donald Dutton, Ph.D., University of British Columbia, Canada
“Studies consistently show that throughout the Western world, men and women initiate physical violence at about equal rates, and frequently partner violence is reciprocal. Portraying inter-partner violence as though it only involves male perpetrators and female victims does both men and women a disservice.” – Felicity Goodyear-Smith, MB ChB, University of Auckland, New Zealand
It is shocking to find that United Nations instead of promoting equal rights is creating gender bias in different forms and raises questions whether they really want to solve the real issue of domestic violence.
Indian media of late have been seen as portraying 40% women in India as victims of domestic violence in different shows. Other than Amir Khan special Satyameva Jayate, recently on 7th December 2012, Sony TV special Crime Patrol also showed the horrifying figures of domestic violence in India.
When Indian media is portraying such figures, it is expected that they do the same in the best interest of the nation and NOT on a biased view. In all such cases, it is found that media completely ignored to research on the subject and projected the popular image of domestic violence in the country. It is nothing but earning a bad name for the country itself.