Domestic violence: Still a reality in modern day India
It needs to be taken note of that during the period of the four phases of the lockdown women in India filed more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years
The social media was flooded with an appalling video clip of a man thrashing his wife.
Purushottam Sharma a Director General ranked IPS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre was at the centre of a viral video clip where he was seen beating his wife. His wife had allegedly caught him red-handed having an extramarital affair and had confronted him.
His son Parth Gautam Sharma an IRS officer allegedly wrote a letter to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, home minister Narottam Mishra and director general of police Vivek Johari, accusing his father of domestic violence against his mother. The Madhya Pradesh government on Monday relieved Sharma, who was in charge of Directorate of Public Prosecution, “with immediate effect”. The order has no mention about his new posting.
The MP State Women’s Commission sprang into action and said it will take suo motu cognizance of the incident.
However, this is not the news I want to take up today. I am aghast at the reply of this man to the accusation of domestic violence. After Sharma was relieved from his post, he told reporters that he had not indulged in any violence. “I have not indulged in any violence. This is a matter between my wife and myself. She complained against me earlier too in 2008. We have been married for 32 years. She is living with me and enjoying all the facilities and even travelling abroad on my expense. The point is if she is upset with me, why she is living with me.”
He further went on to say, “If my nature is abusive, then she should've complained earlier. This is a family dispute, not a crime. I am neither a violent person nor a criminal. It is unfortunate that I have to go through this. My wife stalks me and has put cameras in the house,” the police officer was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Being a daughter of an IPS officer of 1965 batch, MP cadre, I am pained at the degradation of the officers from such an elite service.
Plight of Indian women
Men never seem to amaze me, no matter which social strata they belong to, the mind-set remains the same. They still consider women ‘their property’ to ill-treat, to beat, and to do as they please.
First, the men don’t want a career-oriented woman as a wife because “who will look after the home front”, and when a woman gives up on her dreams, due to the pressure from her family as it is a ‘good’ match and settles into ‘marital bliss’, she is accused of enjoying the facilities provided by him. So, what should women do? Look after the house and kids and then disappear into the background not expecting anything?
Isn’t marriage about mutual understanding and respect? If a woman decides to dedicate her life to looking after her husband and their children and she does it willingly, isn’t the man responsible for providing for her in return?
What was even more disturbing was that people on social media supported his action arguing that his wife provoked him and attacked him. And that Indian men are wrongly targeted all the time.
I really feel sorry for the people who think it’s okay for the officer to beat her up just because she ‘provoked him’. Couldn’t he have walked away or left the house, even reported her at the local station but no he chose to beat her up in front of two other individuals and their pets. Violence is ‘never’ okay, never the answer.
Frankly, the two canines in the video seemed to have more humane traits than the uncouth man. The fact that the son wrote to the authorities and is an officer of his own standing makes one believe that there must be some shred of truth in what happened and that it was not some ‘scorned’ wife reacting and recording and trying to malign her husband’s reputation as some social media posts seemed to suggest.
India’s dismal record of domestic violence
Domestic violence has always been an acute issue in India and the COVID-19-related lockdown made the situation even worse. It needs to be taken note of that during the period of the four phases of the lockdown women in India filed more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years. But even this unusual spike is only the tip of the iceberg as 86% women who experience domestic violence do not seek help and 77% of the victims did not even mention the incident(s) to anyone. Data suggest that in 2020, between March 25 and May 31, 1,477 complaints of domestic violence were made by women. This period recorded more complaints than those received between March and May in the previous 10 years.
The data categorised state wise suggest that Uttarakhand recorded the highest number of domestic violence cases in the last two months of lockdown. At number two rank came Haryana and the national capital Delhi was at number three. You’ll be shocked to know of some numbers revealed in the report which mentions that a total of 144 cases of domestic violence were reported in Uttarakhand. From Haryana, the numbers of cases were 79 and a total of 69 cases surfaced from Delhi. Women in Telangana had to face a spurt in domestic violence too.
Sadly, this increase in cases of domestic violence is not restricted to only India. The lockdown had brought the world to a standstill and with that the lives of women across the globe, who are in an abusive relationship also come to a halt. If you look at reports worldwide the same violence was repeated and perpetrated frequently, and on a regular basis during the lockdown.
But let’s get back to the video recorded incident from yesterday, from what one can make out is that the violence perpetuated on the wife was not so much due to lockdown but to due to the officer being caught for infidelity by the wife. It is something that the couple have to sort out and decide or take legal recourse, but what shocked everyone was the violence and intent with which he thrashed his wife.
The fact remains that Sharma had sworn to uphold the law and not break it which he has done in this case. This also shows that across the economic classes domestic violence in India is a harsh reality staring at us.