SOC100 Chapter Notes -Indian Penal Code, Constitution Of India, World Health Organization

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Published on 16 Nov 2011
School
University of Alberta
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC100
Professor
Introduction
Domestic violence has been recorded in history for over thousand years but the world has
not yet adopted a universal treatment to eradicate it. The main reasons behind the failure
of a universal approach to tackle domestic violence are the different cultural and societal
ethics. Contemporary India reflects the tragedy of thousands of women who are beaten,
insulted and tortured inside the “chardiwari” or the four walls of their homes. As said in
the Encyclopaedia of India by Jain, “the architects of the Indian Constitution envisioned a
democratic, secular polity to guarantee people’s fundamental rights without distinction of
caste, colour, creed, religion, or sex. Fundamental rights and freedom, as incorporated in
India’s constitution, reflect the ethos and spirit of the charter of the United Nation’s,
reaffirming faith in the dignity and the worth of the human person, in the equal rights of
men and women”. Despite the built in safeguards for the protection of human rights for
women, the violation of human rights has become common in India. The United Nations
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against women states in its Preamble that
“violence against women is a product of the unequal relations that characterize gender
relations in all parts of the world” (Mahapatra 1). The patriarchal system of India
acknowledges the domination of male and suppression of females. Women’s roles are
often diminished to her ability to serve her male counterparts. Domestic violence against
women in India stems from the cultural bias against women who challenge their
husband’s right to control their behaviour. “According to the Indian feminists, violence
against women is largely underreported because women are unwilling or afraid to reveal
that their husbands abused them” (Lodhia 108).The very essence of the Patriarchal
society is the woman’s crucial resignation to the dominion status of her male
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counterparts. The domestic violence against women in India is so deeply rooted that the
Indian Society encourages men to beat their wives in order to control them from crossing
their boundaries. I have witnessed domestic violence in the very essence of my family. In
my own familial relations the tolerance of being inferior by women is unquestioningly
accepted. The domestic violence against women is a crucial human rights violation and is
very significant to deal with as the Indian society buries the domestic violence with
deafening silence. The anti-violence activists in India against domestic violence have
achieved success in legally banning domestic violence with the enforcement of the civil
law, The Protection of Women against Domestic Violence 2005. From 1983, the women
facing domestic violence in India were only protected by the criminal statute, the Penal
Code section 498A. Although, the new civil law helps the women to claim justice but
indirectly the India patriarchies are being recast through the construction of gender-
related myths where women are considered as threatening gendered objects destabilizing
the sanctity of the Indian family. The perpetuators of domestic violence against women
threaten the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the fundamental rights
guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. It is the need of the hour to reflect deeply on the
role of the Patriarchal society and religious customs in the growing rate of domestic
violence against women in India as it is the largely complex and unsolved human rights
issue.
The Patriarchal Society of India fosters Domestic violence
The World Health Organization defines domestic violence as “the range of sexually,
psychologically and physically coercive acts used against adult and adolescent women by
current or former male partner” (Pg.1 data stat sheet). Domestic violence against women
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in India has emerged as a major issue mainly due to the effects of the ancient patriarchal
society and religious norms. “According to the 2002 study, 45 percent of the Indian
women are slapped, kicked and beaten by their husbands and about 74.8 percent women
who reported violence have attempted to commit suicide” (www.indiatogether.com). The
patriarchal society gives the men power to dominate and rule over women due to which
domestic violence fosters in the society. Unfortunately, these values have remained in the
society for centuries due to which they are embedded in the individuals’ ethics. The
domestic violence affects women physically, sexually and psychologically. The effects of
the patriarchal society and religious influence are clearly reflected in the perception of the
domestic violence cases by the Indian judicial system
“Riddhima had a well paying job with the Railways. Soon after the marriage, she
had to hand over her passbook, chequebook and all financial documents to her sister-in-
law for safe keeping. The family kept total control over her earnings and she had to ask
permission and money even to replace her tattered pair of sandals. She suffered a nervous
breakdown and was sent back to her parental home” (Tribune.com). This is one of the
instances where the dominance of the Patriarchal Society in India is clearly reflected with
the degradation of the health and wellbeing of women. India characterizes a patriarchal
society where men and women are expected to fulfil their distinctly different roles.
Women are trained from a young age to submit the desires to their valued male
counterparts. In Indian tradition, a woman is taught to quietly suffer any inconveniences,
hardships and even insults without complaining and raising their voice against the male
partner in order to make marriage a success. Men, on the other hand, are trained to
dominate and guide their female counterparts. This inequality of power in Indian Society
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