UN and Domestic Violence in India – 1

Domestic Violence is a much debated topic worldwide and many international organizations are working to stop 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 nation wide study on various problems affecting women and to find out way out to empower them and bring them to mainstream of society. They have identified three sectors to address women’s issues – 1> political participation, 2> access to micro-finance and 3> Violence against women.

This 1996 report further states – nearly 65% women in India is illiterate, they are 24% of 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 possible battering by the husband.

This report goes on to recommend that India should –

  1. End the marital rape exemption
  2. Broaden the purview of 498a to cover for domestic violence
  3. Pass a law to providing wives easy divorce citing cruelty (IrBM)
  4. Enact fast, inexpensive, comprehensive civil protection order relief and also equally fast, comprehensive criminal motion  procedures (DVA 2005)
  5. 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 has avoided was to address the domestic violence issue from gender neutral perspective and create a framework that investigates and punishes the criminal but not someone based on gender or the question arises if it was deliberate attempt to demonize men.

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