WOW | WOW Issue

Domestic violence, at a glance

Researched by: Rojina Adhikari

34 year old Anita (name changed) suffered serious burn injuries to her face after her husband poured boiling oil on her. Similarly, 35-year-old Shilpa (name changed) was sexually tortured by her husband. He forced her to do what was shown in porn videos and if she refused, he would beat her. 13-year-old Mandira (name changed), was raped by her own father. She got pregnant and aborted the four-month-old foetus. These reports clearly indicate the existence of violence against women in our society.

Any kind of discrimination, inequality, suppression, exploitation, persecution on the basis of social, economic, culture, political, sexual, race, religion including criminal activities is violence. Such violence takes place in family, society and even at workplace. Violence can be in the form of physical, mental, sexual, economic, social, cultural or political.

According to Kritagya Rai, Legal Officer at FWLD (Forum for Women, Law and Development) it’s mostly women who fall victim to domestic violence.

Instigating the term violence in a broader context he says, “According to The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women 1993, the term ‘violence against women’ means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Sharu Joshi Shrestha, a Gender Equality and Development Activist opines that in our society the term domestic violence has been limited only to physical abuse. “Domestic violence however covers a larger spectrum, from psychology to economy. Right to identity, right to information, mobility, access to economic resources is associated with domestic violence, therefore expanding the definition and understanding its depth is crucial,” she shares.

Many changes have been made after the Gender Equality Act was passed in 2006. A provision of mental and physical compensation for victims of rape by the offender was declared mandatory. In 2009 domestic violence was qualified as a crime for punishment. The acts however offered options of negotiation through police offices. But despite legal provisions, domestic violence victims are still deprived of support due to lack of proper implementation. Many  victims are still not comfortable to report their case even today and would rather suffer in silence.

Kabita Basnet (name changed), who has been facing physical abuse by her husband for the past nine years reveals that she has never dared report to the police. “If I file a case, it would make me vulnerable. Also, people might look down upon my children and they may never get married,” she shares.
Saguna Shah, Educator and Founder of Bookaholics says, “When an egg breaks from outside, life ends. When it breaks from inside, life begins. Likewise, domestic violence whether physical or psychological will only stop when the victim learns how to say NO and put an end to it. A victim keeps on being abused as long as s/he keeps complying with the perpetrator. If not anything, the victim can file a complaint with the police. What follows after is a lengthy procedure which has chances of demoralising the victim rather than the perpetrator.”

Fact File

Types of domestic violence

Physical torture: Excluding grievous hurt, any act of assault, detention, bodily hurt or any other works related to such activities falls under this category.

Mental torture: Such acts include threats, intimidating behaviours, defamation, abandonment and discrimination on the basis of religion, culture or tradition.

Sexual torture: Sexual misbehaviour, sexual acts resulting in hurting of self-esteem or any denial of safe sexual intercourse.

Economic torture: Denial to utilise personal or joint property. Also, prohibiting women from engaging in office/professional works also falls under this category.

Complaint mechanism

For a case of domestic violence, a complaint can be directly filed with the police, National Women Commission (NEC), local body, district court. The complaint should be filed within 90 days of the incident. The complaint can also be filed during the occurrence of the act or even beforehand if it is known that  violence is going to occur.

Punishment

The main perpetrator is liable to a fine from Rs 3000  to Rs 25000 or six months of imprisonment, or both. The recidivism (the person who repeats the crime) is liable to double the punishment received in a previous act. If anyone attempts or abets domestic violence, such perpetrator is liable the half  the punishment given to the main perpetrator of the crime.

Support system for the victims

  • Arrangement for medical treatments is provided to the victim.
  • Compensation is provided to the victim.
  • Service centres are established to provide needed services for the victim.
  • The arrangement of service fund to provide financial aid to the victim.