According to United Nations, violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women. Violence against women is a human rights violation which impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, peace and security. Furthermore, it leads to long-term physical, sexual, and mental consequences affecting women’s general well being in the society.
Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic. However, it is wrong to think that violence against women is inevitable. Unfortunately in Kashmir, like many other places, issues like violence against women are only taken up on set dates only, usually when these days are observed especially on the occasion of Women’s Day. Very few concerned people raise the issues on any other occasions, and those who do they are looked upon as some activists promoting activities of a society or a non-governmental organization. The approach and the level of seriousness shown by the people suffer from some major defects.
It is fact that over the years, crime against women has been on rise in Jammu and Kashmir. Domestic violence has been silently making inroads in the society. Common perception is that very less number of cases are reported and often the victim tends to bear for fear of societal repercussions. Therefore, it is viewed primarily as a social problem and it is only in extreme cases, like serious injuries and deaths, that the crime gets noticed. In many cases it is too late by then, and except condemnations, investigations and trials – there is nothing left to be done.
The government and the concerned authorities are playing an active role in curbing domestic violence by strengthening its protection of Women by broadening the definition of domestic violence and increasing the penalties for offenders. Moreover, law enforcement agencies have been trained to handle cases of domestic violence with sensitivity and urgency. The government has also committed to opening more shelter homes for victims and facilitating their access to legal aid and counseling services.
The efforts are not limited to official channels. Grassroots campaigns aimed at expanding awareness about domestic violence have become increasingly common. These initiatives range from community dialogue sessions to school-based education programs, aiming to challenge and change deep-rooted stereotypes and customs that perpetuate violence.
However, experts argue that these measures, though commendable, are just the beginning. Domestic violence is a deeply ingrained issue, and it requires consistent and comprehensive efforts to eradicate it. In addition to the legal and institutional measures, we need to focus on changing societal attitudes and behaviors.
Indeed, the journey to end domestic violence may be long and challenging, but the increasing efforts and initiatives are a beacon of hope. They reflect a society that is waking up to the truth about domestic violence and is ready to fight back. The fight against domestic violence is an affirmation of the universal human rights that everyone is entitled to. It is a fight that must, and will, be won.
(Author is a PhD scholar in Sociology and is working as a teacher)