#Opinion

Break the Silence against Intimate Partner Violence

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Intimate Partner Violence India: All across the globe, a concerning question always arises, “Are women really safe now?” Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights. According to WHO, globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (27%) of women aged 15-49 years who have been in a relationship report that they have been subjected to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.

However, men are also not untouched by this, one in ten men have been a victim of Intimate Partner Violence in India. Based on a study of Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based violence against men in rural areas of Haryana, out of 1000 males, 51.5% experienced violence at the hands of their wives/intimate partners at least once in their lifetime. The connection between Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and poor mental and physical health has been a major issue of discussion.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is aggression that occurs in a relationship, be it a current and former spouse or dating partners. Violence can take many forms; it can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Physical violence is the one where a person tries to harm the partner by hitting, kicking or using any other type of physical force. Verbal abuse might have a traumatising impact on the partner which is commonly known as emotional violence. Involving in sexual acts without the consent of the partner is treated as sexual violence.

An aspect of violence is economic dependency. The person who handles the finances might consider themselves superior to the rest of the family members. This attitude can lead to violence if one does not have control over their emotions. Other than that, heavy usage of alcohol and drugs, unemployment, introverted personality or antisocial personality traits, desire for power in a relationship are some other aspects that might give rise to violence.

According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019, some states have recorded a decline in gender violence. However, in states like Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam and Sikkim gender violence has increased. The National Commission for Women registered a total of 4.350 complaints against Domestic Violence from March 2020 to September 2020. Besides, the safety of pregnant women is hampered due to IPV. In India 21-28% of women face IPV while their pregnancy.

An aspect of violence is economic dependency. The person who handles the finances might consider themselves superior to the rest of the family members.

According to Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS), India ranks 133 out of 167 countries in Women, Peace and Security Index. It has been stated that women are safer in the southern part of India whereas the worst-performing states lie in the belt from north to central India, from Rajasthan to Assam.

After these horrifying facts, there are few good initiatives taken to address the issue. Indian Social Responsibility Network (ISRN) with the support of Shops Plus has undertaken the initiative to build awareness on the issue of Family Planning and Intimate Partner Violence. Through its various interventions, ISRN is reaching out to the women in need through their social media campaign (total reach of 2,23,257) and On Ground Activities (OGA) to create awareness about the inter-relation of Family Planning & Intimate Partner Violence issue. A national webinar on Intimate Partner Violence and Family Planning was also organised by ISRN on 16 March 2021 that focused on orienting the organisations who are working on social development issue to amplify the impact of the campaign and encourage women who are at risk or are being abused, to talk about violence and link them to the helpline to access counselling and information on IPV-FP services as needed.

Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in which women and girls everywhere must have equal rights and opportunity, and be able to live free of violence and discrimination. In short, the society must achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government made amendments to the Criminal Law Act in 2018 to prescribe rigorous penal provisions against sexual offences. The Government of India also implemented a “One Stop Centre” (OSC) scheme across the nation in April 2015, which is designed to provide holistic services such as medical aid, police assistance, legal counselling, psycho-social counselling and temporary shelter to women affected by violence under a single roof. Promoting gender equality and empowering women is one of the activities which is included by companies in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies activities in the Companies Act 2013, under Schedule VII.

Encouraging women to demand and exercise their rights and empower women to turn themselves and their future into a new leaf that is free from fear, violence and have equal rights.

This article is co-authored by Saksham Dua & Aditi Narayani. The views expressed are the author’s own.