We have heard horror stories about women being beaten up, abused sexually, and tormented emotionally by those who are supposed to protect them. Within the four walls of the home, violence against women is a sad reality. Domestic violence is widely prevalent, but has remained invisible as most silently suffer while others go into the denial mode.
Despite being a prosperous, hi-tech city, Hyderabad ranks second in domestic violence cases in AP. Shockingly, of the cases recorded, 60 per cent are registered from the Old City. Various women welfare organisations in the area total up the cases and say there is 30-35 per cent rise in the cases of domestic violence. The number of cases may well be far more than recorded as a large number of such cases go unreported because of a belief that ‘it’s a male prerogative to punish women!’
However, experts and NGOs tend to attribute the increase to an increase in awareness among the populace. They say that though there is a raising conscience about women’s rights, but social stigma still pulls them back. Moreover, it is still considered a private affair.
Society is responsible for domestic violence because people reflect what they imbibed in homes and in the society. “It’s a multi-faceted problem,” say veterans. “Most of the cases that come to us are on dowry harassment or problems arising from age-gap between couples. The age gap is more than 10 to 15 years where the girls are not mature enough to handle the never ending demands of their husbands or in-laws and end up getting abused, sexually tortured and beaten up,” said Sultana, member of Shaheen Women Resource and Welfare Association.
Dr Kalpana says, “In India there is a crime against women every three minutes. Domestic violence is a matter of one partner showcasing his/her physical strength and mental insecurity on the other. Domestic violence is not just restricted to the lower class, anyone can be a victim and it’s not a private problem. The victim needs to fight for justice. Unless she herself decides, no one can help her.”
“There is one more drawback. Not many really come out and help. Forget about the general public, in many cases, parents themselves force the girl to stay quiet and to maintain the relationship in the for societal prestige. Women accept violence because social norms work against them and economic dependence prevents women from leaving their marital homes,” she adds.
“Every day we register nearly 10 cases from the Old City. The number of harassment cases has been increasing since 2005 when the Domestic Violence Act was enforced. Whenever a woman comes to us, we first to try to counsel her and if she wants, we register a case,” said Jameela Nishat, chief functionary officer, Shaheen Women Resource and Welfare Association. Social workers say that lack of education and economic dependency are the major causes in the Old City. Many women don’t want to complain for the fear of being thrown out of the home and being rejected by the society.