Domestic violence is the physical or psychological abuse of one partner of a marital relationship by the other. In most cases, women are at the receiving end of domestic violence, which could be a single instance in the heat of the moment or continuing sadistic behavior arousing serious concerns.
Though it is a universal phenomenon, domestic violence is more prevalent in economically backward and marginalized sections of society. Women of socio-economically backward societies are exceptionally hardworking. They do hard manual labor together with men and also manage household chores and rearing of children. Ironically, men perpetrating domestic violence appear to interpret this as slave mentality.
Reasons galore promote this enduring evil. First of all, there is something called manly ego. Gender stereotyping has endowed the male with an invincibility in the context of a sexual relationship. Then, for those with a bad temper, it is a very convenient way of venting their anger without fear of retaliation. The psyche of some men simply accepts violence as a way of life.
In many families, men are the sole or primary earning members. So, mere survival necessity forces women to put up with brutalities. For women with children, this economic security is extra important, since they would be risking the childrenís future also by ending a marriage. Besides, many women are worried about the trauma that divorce could inflict on children.
Societyís expectations are also conducive to women putting up with abuse. Friends and relatives always try to save a marriage rather than help to break it up. They force her to look at the overall picture of the welfare of the family. This is more so in third world countries and rural setups. Many customary laws promote this stance, even where the law of the land could be different.
In war-torn countries men tend to be more violent due to continuous exposure to violence. Poverty and resultant low esteem also make men more violent. But ironically, exposure to violence seems to make women more resilient to it. Finally, an unprotected woman is an easy target of anti-social elements. This also forces her to put up with domestic violence.
The fight against domestic violence has to start from womenís empowerment, by making her economically independent. Women of developed countries suffer comparatively less from domestic violence as they have wider choices, are less dependent on man for survival, and have better recourse to law.
Law, society, and NGOs should join hands to find solutions for the malady. Laws of the land can help by making domestic violence a strong ground for divorce, by making it a criminal offense, by recognizing marital rape, by simplifying the process of divorce and by not differentiating between males and females in inheritance rights. Governments often have problems with budgets and prioritization and they should do their best to see that domestic violence is not their last concern.
Society should not look down on a single woman. There should be enough grass root level workers to reach out to victims of domestic violence. NGOs should provide emergency shelters for battered women. They should help in their rehabilitation by providing vocational training, micro-credit facilities, and employment opportunities.
There may not be a fool-proof remedy for domestic violence, for part of the reason is entrenched in manís genes itself. But changing laws and womanís increased self-reliance can surely decrease its incidence. Anyway, women who are combatants, karate black belts, and sumo wrestlers, might find solutions in their own way.