Domestic violence flashing warning signal | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 14, 2012


Domestic violence flashing warning signal

Social sensitisation, implementation of laws are essential

A baseline survey conducted across the country has revealed that 49 percent of women are subjected to physical violence and 42 percent to sexual violence -- often during or following physical violence -- by their husbands. Many women found this violence to be normal, while others thought it might bring disrepute to the family, leading to very few women seeking social help or legal recourse.
Several issues must be addressed here. First and foremost is that of awareness. Women and men alike must be made to understand that violence, whether or not it is between spouses, is not normal, that violence is a crime with severe legal consequences. Similarly, sexual violence is as grave an offence, if not worse, regardless of whether it is perpetrated between marital partners. Marital rape is a crime and it must be recognised as such in our laws.
Awareness is necessary not only among victims and perpetrators but also the greater society -- family, neighbours, friends -- anyone who may be witness to such violence and whose duty it is not to overlook it as a private, domestic matter but to report it as a serious crime. Social duty extends to after the event, when the survivors of violence must be provided with social and psychological support and counselling to help them deal with the trauma and lead normal, healthy lives.
Finally, the path to legal recourse must be accessible for all. Laws are not enough, they must be strictly implemented, including the Domestic Violence Act 2010. There should be no hassle in filing a police case. The police and judiciary must be prompt, fair and severe. The focus of the media should be on the offence and the perpetrators, not the victims. The burden of crimes which are in any case under-reported due to reasons of fear, shame and lack of faith in the legal system should not be put on the victims. By creating awareness and providing legal, social and moral support, families, society and the legal system must empower the victims, helping them to break free of the chains of abusive relationships.

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