Surviving Domestic Violence

“The first year of my marriage was happy… For the next eight years, grave acts of violence were committed against me by my husband and in laws”, says Shivba Manohar who has, with her two children, left that hellish nightmare behind.

Community Correspondent Shanti Yevtikar brings you her story from Nanded district, Maharashtra.

Shivba worked all her married life to support herself and boost the family’s income. Her only fault was to refuse to support the illegal activities her in laws were a part of. The solution her family decided was to kill her. Her mother in law supplied the poison. Her husband fed it to her. Shivba survived and testified.

“I feel that the law doesn’t support women… When the case was filed my younger brother in law was about to get married. Instead of stopping it the local MLA gave permission for it to happen”, she says.

Others in the neighbourhood were not willing to support her because they were scared of the family, which is politically well connected. Shivba however persevered. She was adamant that if nothing else, her two children had to be given justice– an assurance that they will be provided for.

For Shivba, her fight has become a source of strength to other women who face the same situation. She recently was the only person who helped a neighbour to the hospital after the latter had burnt herself for similar reasons.

Community Correspondent Shanta Tai has worked as a social activist for the past 25 years and is a familiar face in rallies and meetings. Last year at the age of 60 she joined the IndiaUnheard programme as a CC, adding an entirely new dimension to her work with women and Dalits.

“I have got grey hair now working with women who have faced domestic abuse, dowry threats and unfair inheritances, among other things. I want to bring these women to justice to show them that it can be done by holding the society and government accountable”, she says.

A 2013 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India revealed that 70% cases of domestic violence reported in Maharashtra between 2008 and 2011 had not been heard in court. So while the laws and bodies like The Woman and Child Welfare Department are in place there is a clear lack of implementation of tactics to support women in abusive relationships. (http://zeenews.india.com/news/maharashtra/70-domestic-violence-cases-in-maharashtra-yet-to-be-heard_843125.html)

For the moment Shivba’s hopes have been answered– her husband has been taken into custody. Her story will not be last one, but it could be the one that starts a change for the better.

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