Domestic violence is the consequence of a sick mind. It’s not a mistake, it’s crime. But what happens on the other side of the door? What choices does a domestic violence victim really have in India, if any?
We all know a domestic violence victim. In an ideal world, they would speak up and report the heinous act at the very first instance. The perpetrator would be penalised under the law and it would all end right there.
However, in the real world, where conditioning and society exist, it’s not the obvious choice to make. And how could it be?
Women, since childhood, are conditioned to endurance. Practicing endurance in their relationships and putting up superficial personas in the society are two of women’s primary lessons that are taught sometimes consciously, and a lot of times, unconsciously. So it starts right then.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not upholding the whole victim-blaming scenario. Far from that, actually. I’m trying to understand how the victim, against all odds, can get out of it. Because it’s imperative they do.
One silent woman means 10 more women abused in silence.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
How can you empower the victim to speak up and is it always the right thing to do?
Despite Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code criminalising any form of violence with respect to dowry demands by a husband or in-laws and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 providing immediate relief to aggrieved women, a survey reveals that in states such as Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, over 70% women who experienced violence didn’t speak up about the incident. Even so, the number of complaints received by the National Commission of Women (NCW) against domestic violence in 2021 is the highest in the last 12 years. So many unspoken incidents and yet the reported ones only keep shooting up.
Despite India’s remarkable progression in many fields, we continue to remain conservative when it comes to gender-related issues.
The first step is to help a victim realise that they have a choice. More often than not, a person stuck in their own situation fails to see a way out of it. Inability to see that they are choosing to suffer in silence often results in helplessness. Helping a domestic violence victim realise that they have a choice and support them to make the seemingly harder choice can go a long way.
Financial dependence of women on men in the traditional home setting continues to be a major reason why women are afraid to report the crime. Their own, and often, their children’s futures are at stake if their husbands get exposed. This is why work has to be done on the ground level. Educating women and making financial independence for girls a non-negotiable goal is important at the early stages. Work for women should no more be a “choice” than it is for men (definitely not a gender-based one).

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The consequences of domestic violence are more far-fetched than our minds may conceive. They span physical health, a woman’s self-respect and extend over the children who grow up witnessing the crime, and unintentionally, normalising it in their minds. This has to stop somewhere.
So, when we meet in the real world, how open will we be to talk about our struggles? Especially the ones inflicted on us by our dearest. Can we normalise talking about domestic abuse? About our vulnerabilities? Can that help save crimes? Save lives?
PS: Kudos to Majlis Manch, Sapna, Apnalaya, Action Aid and others for doing some remarkable work with domestic violence victims. 

Editors Choice