Thursday, February 16, 2017

Domestic Violence — an issue so serious, yet ignored and so little understood!

With an effort to fortify the millennium development goal (MDGs) of gender equality and women empowerment (UNO, 2002), many legislations and policies have been formulated and implemented. It is apparent, that over the past few decades, a host of issues related to women are discussed and vigorously debated on various platforms. One of the most important aspects of this discourse has been that of violence against women and within that area close attention is being paid to domestic violence, that is, violence that occurs within the victim’s house or by members of the family.  Despite the enactment of laws, formulation of reformative legal processes, provision of legal aid to the needy, extensive use of the provision of Public Interest Litigation, conduct of Family Courts, Women/Family counselling centres etc., women in India have a long way to go in concretising their Constitutional goals into reality as the problem is embodied in socially and culturally.

An article from the journal, Social Change, hopes to draw the attention of readers to the causative factors of domestic violence and its impact on the victim, her family and on society as a whole. Domestic violence is a global issue reaching across national boundaries as well as socio-economic, cultural, racial and class distinctions. This problem is not only widely dispersed geographically, but its incidence is also extensive, making it a typical and accepted behaviour. Its cost to individuals, health systems and society is enormous. Yet no other major problem of public health has been so widely ignored and so little understood.

Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women. However, most commonly, the victims are women, especially in our country as women were always considered weak, vulnerable and in a position to be exploited. Violence has long been accepted as something that happens to women. Cultural mores, religious practices, economic and political conditions may set the precedence for initiating and perpetuating domestic violence, but ultimately committing an act of violence is a choice that the individual makes out of a range of options.

Violence not only causes physical injury, it also undermines the social, economic, psychological, spiritual and emotional well-being of the victim, the perpetrator and the society as a whole. It has serious consequences on women’s mental and physical health, including their reproductive and sexual health. These physical and mental health outcomes have social and emotional sequelae for the individual, the family, the community and the society at large.

Gender-based violence is entrenched in the culture of developing nations; hence it is the time to change that culture. There is lot of awareness programmes conducted regarding the issue. In almost all the awareness programmes the contents are legal issues, counselling facilities and measures to take the support of the police. In large majority of the cases the audience is women. There is a need for change in this way of thinking and believing. The men and women are integral part of the society and there is a need for the change of attitude in three ways: Attitude of men towards women, Attitude of women towards men and Attitude of women towards women. Apart from this, what is required for a healthy society is not merely the absence of violence but the presences of positive emotions towards their female counter parts.

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