Kudumbashree help desk logs over 600 domestic violence cases in three years

M.P. Praveen KOCHI 28 November 2021 00:22 IST
Updated: 28 November 2021 00:22 IST

Victims of domestic violence found reluctant to lodge police complaints against their spouses

In what could be construed as a disturbing trend, Snehitha, the Kudumbashree’s round-the-clock gender help desk at Kakkanad, has logged over 200 domestic violence cases each in three successive financial years since 2018-19.

This assumes significance in the wake of the recent death of a young law student who allegedly took her life citing, among other things, domestic violence.

The number stood at 230 during 2018-19 before dropping to 202 in the year thereafter and then rose to 221 in 2020-21. Though the number had dropped to 96 till October this year, Kudumbashree officials reminded that neither the rise nor drop in the number was a true reflection of the social evil, since it does not take into account cases reported through other avenues, including the District Women Protection Officer and the police.


“A rise in cases is usually noticed whenever we conduct mass campaigns on our service. While lack of awareness does hamper the cases reaching us, the general reluctance of victims to hanker after the proceedings may also be prompting them to suffer in silence rather than report,” said Shine T. Money, District Programme Manager (Gender), Kudumbashree.

While the alleged apathy of the police in handling domestic violence cases has come into sharp focus, with the recent incident in which an Inspector stands suspended, the Kudumbashree authorities vouched that the police had been usually cooperative other than a few exceptions, which have more to do with the choices of the individual officers concerned.

“The police seem to have obvious limitations in taking into custody a man accused of domestic violence while under the influence of alcohol, especially during nights. The complainant may also backtrack in the morning once he is sober,” said Mr. Money.

Besides, victims of domestic violence are also found reluctant to lodge police complaints against their husbands. In may cases, Snehitha offers them temporary shelters even with their little children and influence them to lodge petitions. “We also get orders from the Women Protection Officer for the safe living of victims in their households and then get men violating those orders arrested,” said Mr. Money.

Snehitha has two counsellors and five service providers who arrange for mediation, counselling, or legal aid in association with the District Legal Services Authority where the victims opt for divorce.

“More often than not domestic violence cases involve three aspects — addiction, sexual perversion of abusers, and intervention of extended families. Despite the hardships, victims of domestic violence are often reluctant to press for the arrest of the abusers owing to fear of repercussions, accusations by society and family, and lack of financial independence,” said Gopika G., a service provider at Snehitha.

In the case of addiction among abusers, Snehitha arranges for their de-addiction. But in most cases, men are either reluctant to undergo treatment or relapse later.

Snehitha runs a sub-centre at Perumbavoor for the convenience of those from the eastern suburbs of Ernakulam district. Since it turned operational in 2013-14, Snehitha has come across 1,227 domestic violence cases, including those related to dowry.