End the Curse of Domestic Violence

There are many castes, cultures and religions in India and in all of these many types of violence take place against women. First of all there is mental and physical violence by a woman’s husband. Apart from this the other members of her in-laws family like mother, father and brother in law also oppress her in many ways. This domestic violence largely remains shrouded in secrecy as society discourages women from complaining about this. It is the single most virulent cause for women taking their lives or being killed. I will give an example. One woman Narmada Ramteke was married through arranged wedding to one man Atmaram Khaperde in 1991. She came from her mother’s house to her husband’s house where she had to adjust to the new environment. Her father in law was a simple person and her mother in law had expired. Her husband was very cruel and immediately began beating her and demanding more dowry as an excuse. He continued to beat her even when she became pregnant. She went away to her mother’s home and there her first child was still born. Later her mother came with her to stay in her husband’s house. That did not solve the problem because her husband beat her mother up also. After this her mother took Narmada back to her home. A caste panchayat ( community dispute resolution mechanism) meeting was called and there Atmaram signed an agreement on a judicial stamp paper that he would not beat Narmada in future. After Narmada came again to Atmaram’s house he again started beating her. She had two more children, both girls, by him. In having these children in a short space of time her reproductive organs were affected and she suffered from prolapse of uterus. This is when I stepped in because Atmaram is my brother. I warned him not to behave like this and got Narmada operated and treated for her prolapse. After this Narmada joined an NGO where she began working for child care and immunisation. This did not go down well with Atmaram because he became jealous of his wife and began unnecessarily suspecting her of infidelity. Once again the beatings started. Once he even beat up Narmada in public. This was too much for Narmada and she went away to her mother’s house with her daughters who were now in their teens. Once again a caste panchayat meeting was arranged and Atmaram promised not to beat Narmada up any more and so she came back to live with him. However, things did not improve and so one day Narmada took poison and was taken seriously ill. After that she was taken away by her parents and they had her treated. A case under the Domestic Violence Act and other criminal acts was filed against Atmaram. However, he managed to bribe his way out of this with the help of caste elders. Now Narmada and her daughters live separately and survive on Narmada’s work as an NGO worker. Narmada’s story is not an isolated case. Millions of women in India are suffering similar harassment from their husbands and society and laws are not able to give them any relief. In Narmada’s case I too could not do much because the whole society is highly patriarchal. Thus, even though we have a strong Domestic Violence Act its provisions are not properly implemented and it is easy for the husbands to bribe their way out because society favours men. There is consequently a need for pressure from all sides to be brought to bear on Indian society to make it more conducive for women to live in their husband’s homes. The passage of IVAWA by the United States Government will help it to ensure that violence does not take place against women in India in programmes that are funded by the USA. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Please join the PulseWire community in speaking out against violence and urging the U.S. government to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). Write your letter in your PulseWire journal to share your personal and observed experience in gender-based violence, both in your life and within your community. Tag your journal “IVAWA”, and World Pulse will send your letter directly to President Obama, along with letters from women around the world. Learn more: http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/programs/international-violence-against-women-act

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