Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

One very insidious trend that has emerged slowly but steadily in our society is the increasing rate of domestic violence. The victims of domestic violence are invariably women but the “collateral damage” of this insidious crime can also be children. Police records and , at times, headline stories , suggest that domestic violence has increased exponentially in Kashmir. But, it may be that, given improved education and literacy rates, this noxious trend has wormed its way into the public domain and notice. That is, domestic violence might have been and is a reality, that was under wraps but is now more prominent because of media coverage and better awareness. Regardless of its provenance and prevalence, domestic violence is an issue which has not received much social and public attention despite its evil and noxious nature. The reasons accrue from some features of our society wherein , after marriage, women find themselves in a “no man’s land”. That is, if they are harassed and subject to violence- physical or /and psychological – by their in laws and husbands, they are expected to suffer in silence because, often times, they have nowhere to go. (This is more pronounced and salient if the women in contention are economically dependent on their spouses). Domestic violence is not only about physical violence and beatings. More insidious and subtle is the psychological variety wherein subtle but mentally and emotionally coercive methods are employed to harass victims. The consequences are both short term and long term. The traumas visited upon victims scar them for life and they not only are unable to function as normal , productive adults but regress- emotionally, psychologically and even physically. The legacy of traumas can also pass onto children for no fault of theirs. The usual suspect or culprit of domestic violence are dowry demands and , at times, the bizarre expectations of in laws. While this evil cannot be entirely gotten rid of, it can be checked and curbed by multiple and overlapping efforts. One such multi pronged approach could be creating awareness among women about this evil and suggest ways to report it and fight back. Besides reportage of incidents of domestic violence to the police, another prong of the approach could be naming and shaming of the perpetrators. All in all, the broader society should be sensitized about this noxious evil and victims not only encouraged to speak out about their ill treatment but also supported by society and other stakeholders. Domestic violence, in the final analysis, is a shameful evil that needs to be taken seriously and expunged from society. The time for action is now!


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