Domestic Violence Against Women In India Sociology Essay

2695 words (11 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Sociology Reference this

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Domestic Violence is an act of physical, sexual or psychological abuse against a woman by someone who is intimately connected to her through marriage, family relation or acquaintanceship. It has its roots in the patriarchal set up of the society. Women have always been considered to be the weaker sex. Right from the later Vedic age to the 21st century, Indian women have never experienced the freedom that men have. They have always been subjected to inequality. The subordinate status of women combined with patriarchal ideologies is a major cause of domestic violence. According to ‘United Nation Population Fund Report’, around two-third of married Indian women are victims of Domestic Violence attacks. To protect women against Domestic Violence, the Parliament passed ‘The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’ According to this act, any woman who has been subjected to domestic violence can file a complaint to the police officer, protection officer or the magistrate in the form of ‘Domestic Incident Report’, which is similar to an FIR. However, this act is not enough. In light of the increasing instances of domestic violence against women, the government needs to take more stringent measures to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence against women.

Objectives

The objectives of this project are as follows:-

What is the magnitude of domestic violence against women in India? What is the prevalence of physical, sexual and psychological abuse against Indian women?

What community and families are associated with domestic violence against women? Whether domestic violence is more prevalent in the higher or in the lower strata of the society.

Methodology

Hypothesis: The prevalence of Domestic Violence against women is an indication of patriarchal ideologies

The survey was conducted in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmadabad in 2012. The survey includes forty women who represent different families culturally as well socially i.e. they belong to different stratus of the society. The study is based mainly on quantitative data. It has tried to get empirically sound and statistically reliable data regarding the physical, sexual and psychological abuse against women. Qualitative methodology has been used to interpret and analyze the data collected.

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Review of Literature

‘Behind Closed Doors’ by Rinki Bhattacharya is one of the few books which deal with Domestic Violence against women in India. This book contains narratives by seventeen women who have been the victims of domestic violence. These women have showed immense courage in sharing their stories. These heart- wrenching narratives bring home the fact that domestic violence is still very prevalent and that no amount of privilege can protect women from abuse. A documentary film called ‘Char Diwari’ was made on this book. The fact that this documentary has been telecasted only twice and that too at midnight shows that such issues are still not brought out open in the public.

This book also contains essays by eminent feminists and other sociologists who have tried to analyze the phenomenon of Domestic Violence. What they really try to say is that in a country like India, where people worship the female power of Shakti in the form of goddess, why should women be subjected to domestic violence?

Then there are further essays which deal with the loopholes in the domestic violence bill. The book ends with a road map to support the victims of domestic violence. This book should definitely be read by those who wish to bring about a change in d position of the women in the society.

There is a case study on domestic violence against women in Nagpur. This Case Study has been conducted by International Clinical Epidemiologists Network (INCLEN). On the basis of the survey conducted, it was found out that nearly sixty- two percent of the women have been subjected to some form of domestic violence. Most of these women have been the victims of psychological abuse (60.2 % as compared to 37.9 % of the women being subjected to physical abuse ). Ten percent of these women left their husbands but most of them had to return since their natal families refused to accept them. There is still a social stigma attached to leaving your husband and the root cause of this is the patriarchal ideologies which are still widespread today.

Another Case Study deals with domestic violence in Kerala. This has been conducted by Centre for Women’s Studies and Development, Kerala. Around fifty five percent of the women admit being subjected to domestic violence. In Kerala most of the women have been victimized due to issues related to dowry. Like in Nagpur, psychological abuse is very high in Kerala. (54.23% as compared to 32.4% of thee women who are subjected to physical violence). In Kerala the literacy rate is almost 100 percent, yet women are victimized. What does this show? It again goes back to the patriarchal ideologies that have existed since time immemorial.

Results and Interpretation of Data

Table 1: Socio Demographic Profile:

TOTAL

40

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

27

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

13

AGE (in years)

Woman Respondent

Husband

32

36

33

37

31

35

EDUCATION

Woman Respondent

Illiterate

Primary ( 1-5 )

Secondary ( 6-12 )

>12

Husband

Illiterate

Primary ( 1-5)

Secondary ( 6-12 )

>12

4

6

7

23

0

4

8

28

0

0

5

22

0

0

2

25

4

6

2

1

0

4

6

3

EMPLOYMENT

Woman Respondent

Unemployed

Employed

Husband

Unemployed

Employed

27

23

6

34

17

10

0

27

4

9

6

7

This table shows that literacy rate is lower among the woman respondents as compared to their husbands. The overall employment rate is higher among the husbands. However as far as the lower strata of the society is concerned, more women are employed than men.

Now we come to the prevalence of domestic violence. First the researcher will deal with the women of the higher strata of the society. 20 out of 27 women have admitted to being subjected to domestic violence by their husbands. Out of these 20 women, 12 have been physically abused, 5 psychologically and 3 sexually. As far as the women of the lower strata are concerned all the 13 of them have been subjected to domestic violence. Out of these women, 8 are physically abused, 3 psychologically and 2 sexually.

Graph showing the prevalence of Domestic Violence.

Table 2 will show the lifetime physical abuse and Table 3 will show the lifetime psychological abuse.

Table 2: Lifetime Physical Abuse :-

TOTAL

(20)

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(12)

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(8)

Slap

11

8

3

Kick

8

3

5

Weapon

1

1

0

Table 3: Lifetime Psychological Abuse:-

TOTAL

(8)

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(5)

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(3)

Insulted

5

3

2

Demeaned

2

2

0

Unfaithful

1

0

1

Now the researcher would like to draw your attention to the reasons as to why these women are subjected to domestic violence. Table 4 shows some of the reasons identified by these women.

Table 4: Reasons as to why women are subjected to domestic violence:-

TOTAL

33

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

20

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

13

Not Cooking Properly

18

13

5

Not Looking after the Household

5

4

1

Harassment due to Dowry

4

3

1

Talking to Other Men

6

0

6

It is evident from the survey that Domestic Violence is extremely prevalent especially in the lower strata of the society. There is an inverse relationship between socio economic status and domestic violence. Both Education and Employment is also significant for physical and psychological violence. It is seen that women with lower education but better employment than their husbands are subjected to greater domestic violence. This is the case in the lower strata of the society. As far as the higher strata is concerned, it is generally the lesser educated and the unemployed women who are subjected to the wrath of their husbands.

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Legal Measures for Domestic Violence against women In India

In India not much has been done to protect the rights of women. Women have been the victims of domestic violence since time immemorial, but the ‘Domestic Violence Act’ was passed by the parliament as late as 2005. It was passed in the furtherance of the recommendations of the United Nations committee on the CEDAW. The following abuses are covered by this act:-

Physical abuse

Sexual abuse

Verbal and emotional abuse

Economic abuse

This act provides women a right to stay in her matrimonial house, even if she does not have ownership rights over the house. Basically a husband cannot throw his wife out of his house. However her rights will extend only to her husband’s properties and not to the properties of her in-laws.

Under this act, a woman has the right to ask for help and protection. A victim of domestic abuse has the right to seek the help and services of ‘police officer’s, ‘protection homes’, ‘service providers’, ‘shelter homes’ and ‘medical establishments’. She also has the right to lodge a complaint under section 498 of the Indian Penal Code for ‘matrimonial cruelty’.

Under this act, a woman can get the following orders issued in her favour:-

Protection Order

Residence Orders

Monetary Relief

Custody Orders

Compensation Orders

Interim and Ex parte Orders

If the respondent is found to be guilty, he can be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year or can be charged a fine which may extend to Rs 20,000 or both. He may also be asked to provide monetary relief to the victim and her children. In the latter situation, he has to pay compensation damages as well. He has to abide by the arrangements made by the court regarding the custody of the victim’s children.

Drawbacks of the Legal Measures

The Act is mainly criticized on the grounds that it is not backed up properly. There is no effort by the government to implement it effectively. Important factors such as the appointment and the training of the protection officers, police officers, service providers, counselors, and judicial officers have been ignored. The authorities lack the initiative to spread awareness. Moreover there is improper budgetary allocation. Most states have still not appointed the Protection Officers. In some states, where Protection Officers have been appointed, they are not aware of their duties and the legal remedies that are available to the victims of domestic violence. Another drawback is that that the act has not been publicized properly. The helpline numbers available to the victims have not been publicized properly. As a result, sometimes domestic violence goes unreported because the victim does not know whom to turn to for help. In some cases, the violence is reported, but no case is filed in the court. There is a big difference in the number of cases that are reported and the number of cases which are actually heard in the court. These are the drawbacks of the legal measures.

Remedial Measures

A crucial question in the light of the increasing instances of domestic violence is that what should be done to control and reduce it. As responsible citizens should we just sit and read articles and collect information about domestic violence or should we raise our voices against it?Today Domestic Violence is being viewed as an epidemic disease which needs to be controlled. Many Law agencies, Governmental and Non Governmental Organizations, public and private bodies are working for this cause.

We need more stringent laws to curb domestic violence. At present we do not have a single law in the Indian Constitution which effectively deals with the issue of Domestic Violence. Even section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code and The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 have been misused because of the restricted definition of the abuse that women are subjected to. As a result we need more stringent laws to protect the rights of women.

There are several NGOs which are actively working in issues relating to women abuse. These NGOs need to spread awareness among women regarding the legal remedies that are available to them. They should encourage more and more women to come forward and report instances of domestic violence so that necessary action can be taken against the culprit.

The Police and the Protection Officers need to be sensitized. They need to take Domestic Violence as seriously as other offences. They need to be made aware of their legal duties and the remedies that are available to the victims. Moreover care has to be taken to appoint efficient men as Police and Protection Officers. Gender training should me made mandatory.

Steps need to be taken to recognize Domestic Violence as a public health. Training needs to be provided so as to develop the skills of the professionals to provide the basic support to the victims of domestic violence. Documentation on the health consequences of domestic violence should me made so as to spread awareness.

Lastly the patriarchal mindset of the people has to be changed. Until and unless women are given due respect in the society, no amount of laws will be helpful. The root cause of domestic violence is patriarchal ideologies and that needs to be changed.

Conclusion

The study underlines that the situation of Indian women is quite severe in terms of the violence they experience in the marital home. Women are subject to frequent and multiple forms of violence in their lifetime. The main cause of this is the patriarchal mindset of the people. Men have always considered themselves to be the superior sex and have always tried to overpower women. Generally women do not raise their voices against men because they have been taught to believe that they are the inferior sex. In conclusion, it can be said that the hypothesis- ‘The prevalence of Domestic Violence against women is an indication of patriarchal ideologies’ has been proved and a social reformation needs to be brought about soon.

Questionnaire

The women were asked the following questions:

Name

Age

Husband’s Age

Educational Qualification

Educational qualification of the husband

Employment

Husband’s occupation

Any Physical Violence?

Slapped by the husband?

Kicked by the husband?

Used or threatened to use a weapon?

Any Sexual Violence?

Any Psychological Violence?

Insulted by the husband?

Demeaned by the husband?

Was the husband unfaithful?

Reasons for the violence as identified by the woman.

Not cooking properly

Not looking after the household

Harassment due to dowry

Talking to other men

The limitation of this study is that in view of the social stigma attached to domestic violence, some women have been reluctant to answer these questions and as a result have not answered them truthfully.

Domestic Violence is an act of physical, sexual or psychological abuse against a woman by someone who is intimately connected to her through marriage, family relation or acquaintanceship. It has its roots in the patriarchal set up of the society. Women have always been considered to be the weaker sex. Right from the later Vedic age to the 21st century, Indian women have never experienced the freedom that men have. They have always been subjected to inequality. The subordinate status of women combined with patriarchal ideologies is a major cause of domestic violence. According to ‘United Nation Population Fund Report’, around two-third of married Indian women are victims of Domestic Violence attacks. To protect women against Domestic Violence, the Parliament passed ‘The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’ According to this act, any woman who has been subjected to domestic violence can file a complaint to the police officer, protection officer or the magistrate in the form of ‘Domestic Incident Report’, which is similar to an FIR. However, this act is not enough. In light of the increasing instances of domestic violence against women, the government needs to take more stringent measures to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence against women.

Objectives

The objectives of this project are as follows:-

What is the magnitude of domestic violence against women in India? What is the prevalence of physical, sexual and psychological abuse against Indian women?

What community and families are associated with domestic violence against women? Whether domestic violence is more prevalent in the higher or in the lower strata of the society.

Methodology

Hypothesis: The prevalence of Domestic Violence against women is an indication of patriarchal ideologies

The survey was conducted in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmadabad in 2012. The survey includes forty women who represent different families culturally as well socially i.e. they belong to different stratus of the society. The study is based mainly on quantitative data. It has tried to get empirically sound and statistically reliable data regarding the physical, sexual and psychological abuse against women. Qualitative methodology has been used to interpret and analyze the data collected.

Review of Literature

‘Behind Closed Doors’ by Rinki Bhattacharya is one of the few books which deal with Domestic Violence against women in India. This book contains narratives by seventeen women who have been the victims of domestic violence. These women have showed immense courage in sharing their stories. These heart- wrenching narratives bring home the fact that domestic violence is still very prevalent and that no amount of privilege can protect women from abuse. A documentary film called ‘Char Diwari’ was made on this book. The fact that this documentary has been telecasted only twice and that too at midnight shows that such issues are still not brought out open in the public.

This book also contains essays by eminent feminists and other sociologists who have tried to analyze the phenomenon of Domestic Violence. What they really try to say is that in a country like India, where people worship the female power of Shakti in the form of goddess, why should women be subjected to domestic violence?

Then there are further essays which deal with the loopholes in the domestic violence bill. The book ends with a road map to support the victims of domestic violence. This book should definitely be read by those who wish to bring about a change in d position of the women in the society.

There is a case study on domestic violence against women in Nagpur. This Case Study has been conducted by International Clinical Epidemiologists Network (INCLEN). On the basis of the survey conducted, it was found out that nearly sixty- two percent of the women have been subjected to some form of domestic violence. Most of these women have been the victims of psychological abuse (60.2 % as compared to 37.9 % of the women being subjected to physical abuse ). Ten percent of these women left their husbands but most of them had to return since their natal families refused to accept them. There is still a social stigma attached to leaving your husband and the root cause of this is the patriarchal ideologies which are still widespread today.

Another Case Study deals with domestic violence in Kerala. This has been conducted by Centre for Women’s Studies and Development, Kerala. Around fifty five percent of the women admit being subjected to domestic violence. In Kerala most of the women have been victimized due to issues related to dowry. Like in Nagpur, psychological abuse is very high in Kerala. (54.23% as compared to 32.4% of thee women who are subjected to physical violence). In Kerala the literacy rate is almost 100 percent, yet women are victimized. What does this show? It again goes back to the patriarchal ideologies that have existed since time immemorial.

Results and Interpretation of Data

Table 1: Socio Demographic Profile:

TOTAL

40

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

27

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

13

AGE (in years)

Woman Respondent

Husband

32

36

33

37

31

35

EDUCATION

Woman Respondent

Illiterate

Primary ( 1-5 )

Secondary ( 6-12 )

>12

Husband

Illiterate

Primary ( 1-5)

Secondary ( 6-12 )

>12

4

6

7

23

0

4

8

28

0

0

5

22

0

0

2

25

4

6

2

1

0

4

6

3

EMPLOYMENT

Woman Respondent

Unemployed

Employed

Husband

Unemployed

Employed

27

23

6

34

17

10

0

27

4

9

6

7

This table shows that literacy rate is lower among the woman respondents as compared to their husbands. The overall employment rate is higher among the husbands. However as far as the lower strata of the society is concerned, more women are employed than men.

Now we come to the prevalence of domestic violence. First the researcher will deal with the women of the higher strata of the society. 20 out of 27 women have admitted to being subjected to domestic violence by their husbands. Out of these 20 women, 12 have been physically abused, 5 psychologically and 3 sexually. As far as the women of the lower strata are concerned all the 13 of them have been subjected to domestic violence. Out of these women, 8 are physically abused, 3 psychologically and 2 sexually.

Graph showing the prevalence of Domestic Violence.

Table 2 will show the lifetime physical abuse and Table 3 will show the lifetime psychological abuse.

Table 2: Lifetime Physical Abuse :-

TOTAL

(20)

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(12)

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(8)

Slap

11

8

3

Kick

8

3

5

Weapon

1

1

0

Table 3: Lifetime Psychological Abuse:-

TOTAL

(8)

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(5)

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

(3)

Insulted

5

3

2

Demeaned

2

2

0

Unfaithful

1

0

1

Now the researcher would like to draw your attention to the reasons as to why these women are subjected to domestic violence. Table 4 shows some of the reasons identified by these women.

Table 4: Reasons as to why women are subjected to domestic violence:-

TOTAL

33

HIGHER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

20

LOWER STRATA OF THE SOCIETY

13

Not Cooking Properly

18

13

5

Not Looking after the Household

5

4

1

Harassment due to Dowry

4

3

1

Talking to Other Men

6

0

6

It is evident from the survey that Domestic Violence is extremely prevalent especially in the lower strata of the society. There is an inverse relationship between socio economic status and domestic violence. Both Education and Employment is also significant for physical and psychological violence. It is seen that women with lower education but better employment than their husbands are subjected to greater domestic violence. This is the case in the lower strata of the society. As far as the higher strata is concerned, it is generally the lesser educated and the unemployed women who are subjected to the wrath of their husbands.

Legal Measures for Domestic Violence against women In India

In India not much has been done to protect the rights of women. Women have been the victims of domestic violence since time immemorial, but the ‘Domestic Violence Act’ was passed by the parliament as late as 2005. It was passed in the furtherance of the recommendations of the United Nations committee on the CEDAW. The following abuses are covered by this act:-

Physical abuse

Sexual abuse

Verbal and emotional abuse

Economic abuse

This act provides women a right to stay in her matrimonial house, even if she does not have ownership rights over the house. Basically a husband cannot throw his wife out of his house. However her rights will extend only to her husband’s properties and not to the properties of her in-laws.

Under this act, a woman has the right to ask for help and protection. A victim of domestic abuse has the right to seek the help and services of ‘police officer’s, ‘protection homes’, ‘service providers’, ‘shelter homes’ and ‘medical establishments’. She also has the right to lodge a complaint under section 498 of the Indian Penal Code for ‘matrimonial cruelty’.

Under this act, a woman can get the following orders issued in her favour:-

Protection Order

Residence Orders

Monetary Relief

Custody Orders

Compensation Orders

Interim and Ex parte Orders

If the respondent is found to be guilty, he can be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year or can be charged a fine which may extend to Rs 20,000 or both. He may also be asked to provide monetary relief to the victim and her children. In the latter situation, he has to pay compensation damages as well. He has to abide by the arrangements made by the court regarding the custody of the victim’s children.

Drawbacks of the Legal Measures

The Act is mainly criticized on the grounds that it is not backed up properly. There is no effort by the government to implement it effectively. Important factors such as the appointment and the training of the protection officers, police officers, service providers, counselors, and judicial officers have been ignored. The authorities lack the initiative to spread awareness. Moreover there is improper budgetary allocation. Most states have still not appointed the Protection Officers. In some states, where Protection Officers have been appointed, they are not aware of their duties and the legal remedies that are available to the victims of domestic violence. Another drawback is that that the act has not been publicized properly. The helpline numbers available to the victims have not been publicized properly. As a result, sometimes domestic violence goes unreported because the victim does not know whom to turn to for help. In some cases, the violence is reported, but no case is filed in the court. There is a big difference in the number of cases that are reported and the number of cases which are actually heard in the court. These are the drawbacks of the legal measures.

Remedial Measures

A crucial question in the light of the increasing instances of domestic violence is that what should be done to control and reduce it. As responsible citizens should we just sit and read articles and collect information about domestic violence or should we raise our voices against it?Today Domestic Violence is being viewed as an epidemic disease which needs to be controlled. Many Law agencies, Governmental and Non Governmental Organizations, public and private bodies are working for this cause.

We need more stringent laws to curb domestic violence. At present we do not have a single law in the Indian Constitution which effectively deals with the issue of Domestic Violence. Even section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code and The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 have been misused because of the restricted definition of the abuse that women are subjected to. As a result we need more stringent laws to protect the rights of women.

There are several NGOs which are actively working in issues relating to women abuse. These NGOs need to spread awareness among women regarding the legal remedies that are available to them. They should encourage more and more women to come forward and report instances of domestic violence so that necessary action can be taken against the culprit.

The Police and the Protection Officers need to be sensitized. They need to take Domestic Violence as seriously as other offences. They need to be made aware of their legal duties and the remedies that are available to the victims. Moreover care has to be taken to appoint efficient men as Police and Protection Officers. Gender training should me made mandatory.

Steps need to be taken to recognize Domestic Violence as a public health. Training needs to be provided so as to develop the skills of the professionals to provide the basic support to the victims of domestic violence. Documentation on the health consequences of domestic violence should me made so as to spread awareness.

Lastly the patriarchal mindset of the people has to be changed. Until and unless women are given due respect in the society, no amount of laws will be helpful. The root cause of domestic violence is patriarchal ideologies and that needs to be changed.

Conclusion

The study underlines that the situation of Indian women is quite severe in terms of the violence they experience in the marital home. Women are subject to frequent and multiple forms of violence in their lifetime. The main cause of this is the patriarchal mindset of the people. Men have always considered themselves to be the superior sex and have always tried to overpower women. Generally women do not raise their voices against men because they have been taught to believe that they are the inferior sex. In conclusion, it can be said that the hypothesis- ‘The prevalence of Domestic Violence against women is an indication of patriarchal ideologies’ has been proved and a social reformation needs to be brought about soon.

Questionnaire

The women were asked the following questions:

Name

Age

Husband’s Age

Educational Qualification

Educational qualification of the husband

Employment

Husband’s occupation

Any Physical Violence?

Slapped by the husband?

Kicked by the husband?

Used or threatened to use a weapon?

Any Sexual Violence?

Any Psychological Violence?

Insulted by the husband?

Demeaned by the husband?

Was the husband unfaithful?

Reasons for the violence as identified by the woman.

Not cooking properly

Not looking after the household

Harassment due to dowry

Talking to other men

The limitation of this study is that in view of the social stigma attached to domestic violence, some women have been reluctant to answer these questions and as a result have not answered them truthfully.

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