Addressing gender-based violence
In light of recent incidents of women being killed by their partners, we asked experts in the community if domestic violence in Indian homes was on the rise, and what are the problems? Here's what they had to say:
Aroona Chetty, director of Phoenix Child Welfare and supervisor for Sahara Women’s Shelter (servicing Phoenix/Mount Moriah and Mount Royal areas):
We take on cases daily and are seeing high incidence of violence and domestic abuse.
A combination of factors leads to this but at the root it is people not knowing how to handle conflict. It is also largely impacted by how a man has been socialised.
Many men grew up with violence and they don’t know alternative ways to resolve conflict so, as adults, they do the same.
Another problem is that too many people seem to have access to guns. The level of gun use in domestic violence cases that come to us is worrying. Unemployment, drugs and alcohol addiction are also among the many issues in our homes.
But it is important to remember that not only poor households are affected by domestic violence. Often the rich are also abused but they are embarrassed to reach out for help. So we see women taking to painkillers, sometimes alcohol, but they eventually reach out for help.
Alishia Joseph, a social worker at the Aryan Benevolent Home’s VJ Kara Family Centre in Chatsworth:
On an average month, we have about 15 women and children who need accommodation and assistance at the shelter due to abuse.
We’ve had people trapped in violent situations, (where they were) physically abused, and threatened to be killed by their partners. They call the police and are admitted to us.
I think the levels of violence are escalating. The reason seems to be drug and alcohol abuse in the home, by both men and women.
Dr Anshu Padayachee of the Advice Desk For the Abused in Durban:
Women are now talking more about it and trying to get help and access advice, so more women are coming forward.
There are other indicators that we must consider.
The rise in suicides among young women and the rise in women taking to painkillers and alcohol. Women try to cope with domestic violence in different ways. For me, the greatest impact is on the children who are witnessing this.
They begin to see this as normal behaviour and they lose respect for women and mimic the same behaviour in their relationships later on.
Asked what they thought was a way forward in clamping down on violence against women, two points were emphasised:
* Tackle the issue at grassroots and school level, by educating children about conflict resolution, anger management and respecting each other - regardless of gender.
* At a government level, steps should be taken to better implement existing policy and law.
This should start with calling on the workers from NGOs, that have been shut down over the years due to lack of funding, and getting their input on the domestic problems in their communities, and possible ways to deal with these.