Violence in the domestic front is a cowardly sin enacted by any human being. Universally, evidence proves that women and girls are grilled and excruciating in their own homes and also outside irrespective of their age, class, caste, race, status, religion and nationality. No highly developed nation with high education level and equal powers to their women can even claim themselves to be free of this pernicious practice. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993 defines violence against women as “any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm, or suffering to women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty; whether occurring in public or private life”.
Beijing Platform for Action states: “The fear of violence, including harassment is a permanent constraint on the mobility of women and limits their access to resources and basic activities. High social, health, and economic costs to the individual and society are associated with violence against women. Violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men”.
The status of women in India is not equal to the status of men in terms of access, participation, and reward. This situation owes its existence to the patriarchal and feudalistic structure of the society. The most pathetic aspect of such atrocities is domestic violence. The steady decline in the sex ratio noted for over a century in India from 972 females for 1000 males in the population in 1901 to 927 females in 1991 and the prevalence of female foeticide in at least 10 States of India are critical indicators of violence against women. Female foeticide and female infanticide are basically socio-cultural problems and not just a law and order problem. UNICF reports that 40-50 million women are missing from the Indian population due to foeticide (1991).
The National Family Health Survey, 2000 (NFHS-2) reports about the inequality and violence pervading in our country. Sixty-eight percent of the women under the survey reported that they needed permission from husbands or in-laws to go to the market and 76 percent had to seek consent of their husbands before they could visit friends or relatives. Only 60 percent could use money the way they wished. In addition, one in every five women experienced domestic violence from the age of 15 onwards. Very often, women used to suffer violence against them in silence for fear of adverse repercussions.