Academic journal article Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

Domestic Violence: Issue of Violation of Human Rights of Women

Academic journal article Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

Domestic Violence: Issue of Violation of Human Rights of Women

Article excerpt


Freedom not only from violence but also from the threat of violence is the first indicator of rise in women's capacity for survival and empowerment. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states in its Preamble that violence against women is a product of the "unequal power relations" that characterize gender relations in all parts of the world. Violence against women is a universal reality but at the same time it is invisible. The UNDP's gender development index ranks India 108 among 174 countries in terms of gender equity. It is no coincidence therefore, that countries ranking highest on this index rank India 108 among 174 countries in terms of gender equity. Gender equity and social development are inseparably interlinked. Reducing any kind of disparity in nutritional and educational levels between the sexes is essential for realization of country's full potential. In addition to the above criteria another important criterion required to be able to create gender equity would be to do away with the fact of violence against women in particular with domestic violence which is widely prevalent in India but which unlike most other forms of violence against women is scarcely acknowledged as being widespread and is hardly ever treated as a crime. Instead, Indian society makes domestic violence invisible. Domestic violence is one of the few phenomena which cuts across all the cultural, socio-economic, educational, ethnic and religious barriers. This type of violence not only seems to increase even with rise in women's education but also prevails among the elite sections of the society. Violence by intimate family members is one of South Asia's darkest legacies. In a survey on violence against women in India, 94 percent of the cases involved an offender who was a member of the family. (Naved, 2004)

Violence against women in South Asia often begins before birth. It is estimated that the 50 million women are missing in India either through sex selective abortions, female infanticide or female neglect. Sex ratio in certain states of India is very disturbing. There are 79.3 girls for every 100 males in Punjab and 87.8 girls for every male in Gujarat (OXFAM 2004:10). In the North-Eastern states women related violence is highest among the Khasi society in Meghalaya which is a matriarchal society where the status of women is higher than that of men. Women inherit all family properties and who brings her husband into her home. However, the other issue which deserves further investigation is whether hyper-masculinity or hyper-femininity inbreeds more violence against women.

Next to Meghalaya comes Mizoram which is a patriarchal society. The MHIP (Mizo Hmeichhe Inzawmkhawm Pawl), the most active woman organization in the state, has been trying to eradicate the commercialization of bride-price, the dowry system, sexual exploitation of women of any kind and inequality between man and woman. However, inspite of this movement launched by the MHIP, violence against woman is still higher and it has become a matter of great concern.

Laws to deal with domestic violence do exist and they include Section 113(a) of the Indian Evidence Act, Section 498(a) and 304(b) of the Indian Penal Code and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 as amended in the year 1986. However, the effect of such laws is very limited. For example, a report by Amnesty International observes, "Analysis of Court decisions in one particular district of Maharashtra, Yavatmal for example, shows that only 2.2 percent of cases brought under 498A during the period 1990-96 resulted in conviction.

Section 113(a), Indian Evidence Act says, "Where a married woman commits suicide within 7 years of her married life and it is shown that her husband or his relatives had treated her with cruelty, it would be presumed by the Court that her husband or relatives had aided (abetted) her suicide". …

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