Brihaspati Sardar and Kamla Sardar from West Bengal faced domestic violence. They talk about the physical-emotional assault and their individual perspectives.
Violence against women is a serious problem in India. One-third of women age 15-49 have experienced physical violence. This experience of physical violence among women is more common in rural areas. An incident from a village in the Kultali Block, South 24 Parganas district, West Bengal tells us how domestic violence affects women.
In India, where domestic violence is so rampant, there are findings, to the extent that women give up on their lives, because of the severity of the violence against women, especially married women in India.
“Tied me up and tried to set me on fire last time. What if they kill my child and me the next time? I do not want to go back because of this fear”, said 20-year old, Brihaspati Sardar from Madhavpur village. In our society, violence is present everywhere. It is happening behind the closed doors of our houses, where women are being tortured, beaten up, choked, and even murdered. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, the most common act of physical violence by husbands is slapping. Women married to men who get drunk often are more likely to experience violence. However, this is not the only factor.
“They beat me up, constantly fight with me, and do not give me anything to eat or wear. If I do not get food from my father’s home, I will not get any food or clothes at all”, adds Brihaspati Sardar. When it happened for the first time, Brihaspati ignored the violence and remained silent, considering it as a part of a marital problem every marriage faces. But this was not the end, it became violent when her husband tried to set her on fire. This shocking act of violence scared Brihaspati. She rushed to her parents, with her child.
Reporting such violence is a first step towards ending domestic violence. That is what Brihaspati did. She informed her parents and the Panchayat. Unfortunately, till date, no action was taken towards Brihaspati’s husband. Often due to patriarchal practices, these incidents are considered to be a family matter and not a public issue.
Domestic Violence is the most common practice in Indian families. With a usual tendency to bear the harassment by the husband and in-laws, is something which Indian housewife, instills. In rural areas, women fear to leave their husband’s home as they don’t have any other source of living. Having children makes the situation even worse, as they don’t want their children to go through any distress if she leaves her husband. This enables men to prey on women.
Similar story, of Kamla Sadar who still resides with her husband, even after numerous incidents of assaults on her. “Who wants to leave their husbands and live separately? Nobody. Even if the husbands beat us up, we have to keep living with them, because we consider that to be our own home”, said Kamla. Kamla is not alone, where women turn a blind eye, to domestic violence, and believes that husband’s home, is their home. Any kind of retaliation will bring a bad name to her family in society. “Even if my husband treats me wrong, I have to keep trying to run the family lovingly leaving my household will bring me a bad reputation in the society..Also, please know this too, I love my husband”, Kamla adds.
In cognizance of domestic violence, the Parliament of India passed section 498A in 1983. Then the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. A civil law that provides protection to women in a household, from men in the household.
The question is how we are going to minimise the alarming numbers of cases of domestic violence. Is it by piling the facts and figures, or by raising voices, or should we wait for the government to come up with more stringent laws?
Video by Community Correspondent Krishna Mondal.
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of VV Editorial Team.