Madurai

Domestic violence against women remains a scourge

‘There is no support mechanism for victims to tide over the traumatic period’

Domestic violence against women constitute the highest number of cases reported and intervened by One Stop Centre (OSC), functioning in the district for nearly a year. Of the 377 cases reported in the district from December 2018 to October 2019, domestic violence constitutes over 45% of these cases.

OSC, also known as Sakhi Centre, is functioning under Ministry of Women and Child Development to support women affected by gender-based abuse and violence. It aims to provide integrated support by providing medical, legal and psychological assistance.

Though the rise in reporting of domestic violence can be attributed to increased awareness among women, activists and legal experts say the very prevalence of the issue is a matter of concern. P. Premalatha, Centre Administrator, OSC, Madurai, says most women complaining about domestic violence were aged between 25 and 35. “Since they do not have a support system to fall back upon, these women are the worst affected,” she says.

Recalling an incident when a 34-year-old woman came to the centre bleeding, Ms. Premalatha says 80% of the victims were subjected to violence when their husbands were inebriated. “Along with the physical trauma, these women are affected psychologically too. Many women say the verbal abuse is more wounding. Some women even develop suicidal tendencies,” she says.

Legal support

Only 10% of the victims seek legal remedy despite awareness of its availability, says Ms. Premalatha.

Nirmala Rani, advocate and social activist, says Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, helps in addressing the issue in a holistic manner. However, there are a lot of challenges in its implementation. “The Act says any domestic violence case has to be settled within 60 days. However, most number of cases are dragged for years. In many cases the husbands are not in a position to give compensation to the victims,” she says.

There is no support mechanism for these women during this period, says Ms. Premalatha. “Many families do not accept these women and how long can they sustain during such times,” she says.

The Protection Officers, who provide support to the victims during the judicial process, are understaffed and overworked. This aspect also needs to be addressed, says Ms. Nirmala Rani.

Patriarchal mindset

However, the underlying root cause for the problem is the prevalence of patriarchal mindset, says S. Selva Gomathi, managing trustee, Justice Shivraj V. Patil Foundation for Socio-Legal Studies and Development. “Many government departments still do not consider domestic violence as a human rights violation. This has to be stressed to address the issue on a holistic way,” she adds.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 6:11:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/domestic-violence-against-women-remains-a-scourge/article30083833.ece

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