“The more that we choose not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose.”
Domestic Violence is not a delinquency which has emerged with modernization but has been practiced for centuries. It is not a gender-specific crime rather is committed both on men and women.
But the point of concern is that the voice against Domestic Violence had been raised majority by society when it is against women.
According to a report published by the National Crime Report Bureau, the crime of Domestic Violence occurs in every 4.4 minutes on average. Nevertheless, the number of complaints recorded is the least. It is a heinous crime like other crimes of rape, acid-attack, etc.
To weaken the proportion of Domestic Violence against women and to protect the large masses of females from such violence the government came up with a separate act termed the PWDVA (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence), 2005.
Prior to the introduction of PWDVA (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence),2005 after marriage woman had Right of Protection from any violence against her only under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (Dowry Death) and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (Cruelty by Husband or his relatives).
Any offence committed against her outside the scope of these sections was not punishable. Therefore, an emergence was felt for the introduction of this act. But it is disappointing to note that there are no special acts which deal with the protection of men from such crimes.
With the socio-economic changes in our society, men are also victims of Domestic Violence facing physical, mental and emotional tortures by their spouses.
They are basically the silent victims of the crime and we hardly find any reported case of their sufferings. It is majorly because of the male-dominant image of men in our society i.e. they are strong enough to fight all abuses.
Also there are following reasons why men are silent on this issue:
- Fear of being ashamed
Being in a society where men are considered stronger than women, beaten by his spouse is considered a shameful act for the men and thereby many of these cases go unreported.
- Fear of cases
Men also fear reporting of the Domestic Violence against them due to the backfire of cases that he might have to face. E.g.: Sometimes women are seen making use of the law by indulging their spouse and in-laws in false dowry cases.
So a sense of fear of cases which might run for a long period creates a situation of men stepping back in reporting the Domestic Violence against them.
- Parental pressure
Many men today even after marriage live with their parents so when any dispute arise between there are instances where parents are seen to indulge in the dispute creating situations to worsen more.
There have been many cases of Domestic Violence against men and speaking about this does not make someone Anti-Women.
As we proudly speak of no discrimination against any gender, sex, color under our constitution thereby protecting men from Domestic Violence and highlighting this issue also does not indulge any discrimination.
Therefore, protecting them from such abuse is as important as to the women of our society.
Moreover, gender neutrality laws make the cases been unreported like once a person named Jatinder and his wife approached the police to report a case but the police filed his wife’s case whereas his case was ignored.
This incident happened after they got separated from each other and one fine day after a period of six months the wife again started contacting Jatinder’s mother.
She started threatening his family and also feared them of indulging them in false cases of Domestic Violence. So, Jatinder planned to live separately with his wife in a rented apartment.
One fine day, when the cops were called upon to file a complaint, the police filed her case of Domestic Violence but not Jatinder’s and he had to hear abuses from the police officals.
Whereas there has been also a case where in the third month of marriage, the wife went to her home for Eid but never returned. On being contacted she said that her family members have house arrested her. So when her husband went to her house he was thrown out of the house.
So when he went to the court, his wife turned out with her statement of her family keeping her in house arrest and said that her husband used to beat her. Therefore, it is mainly because of such circumstances that cases stay unreported.
Remedies to Curb the Problem
These are the following suggestions that can be taken to curb the problem. These are as follows:
- Issuance of a WhatsApp Number
Seeing a drastic rise in the figure of Domestic Violence cases and considering the situation of the pandemic, the Women Commission has issued a WhatsApp number: +91 7217735372 for women to address their grievances.
In the situation of a pandemic, it has been difficult to step out of the house and go to police stations to report the cases, the WhatsApp Number issued by the commission has turned out to be advantageous. But it has helped to restraint the problem only to a minimal level as the women of rural areas do not have much admittance to the phones.
But for men to report cases, there is no special helpline numbers to seek help.
Not all the sections of our society are literate. Therefore, to educate women of their basic Human Rights, the commission should hold campaigns at different places and educate the women of what are their Rights and how they can protect them.
They should have the knowledge of their right to file a complaint against any Domestic Violence by their spouse or relatives.
Also, to curb the problem a “Bell Bajao” campaign had been started in 2008 which encourages the male section of society to take action whenever any case of Domestic Violence comes to their knowledge. India being the first country to adopt this campaign, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Nepal adapted it.
Awareness can also be generated through Posters, Radio, and National News channels for women who do not know how to read and write.
Social Media also can be used in a positive way, i.e. it can be used also to educate the women through messages and sending images in cartoon form to educate them about Domestic Violence. They should in brief be educated to raise their voice against such a heinous act without any fear.
- E-mails andLetters
E-mails and letters also play a vital role in addressing complaints. The letter is more suitable for people in rural areas who do not have much excess to phones. So, writing letters play a vital role.
As it is not suitable for all women to access phones, e-mails or write letters many countries like France and Spain have come up with the method of Code words for the victim to communicate about the commission of Domestic Violence against them to the pharmacist, grocery store people or hospital authorities if they are accompanied by their spouse.
Women in these countries when access any of these essential services during lockdown can report the abuse by use of the word “Mask-19”; which is code for Domestic Violence against her.
Indian government should also come up with such code so that people who are unable to have any access to report their complaints in lockdown and be protected against the devils of the society.
Considering men only the perpetrators of crime are not true. Both men and women are abused by this crime so concluding it to be women-specific is not appropriate. However, it is disappointing to note that there are basically no laws in favor of men to protect them from Domestic Violence.