Violence Against Women, The Nari Adalat, Gujarat | Domestic Violence | Violence

SCEB Violence Against Women

A REPORT SUBMITTED TO

Instructor: Prof. Navdeep Mathur Academic Associate: Ms. Dhruvi Bharwad

In partial fulfilment of the requirements of the course Socio Cultural Environment for Business

On March 17, 2009

By Group 9 Chinmay Sanjay Joshi Hemant Gaule Robin Antony Shankar N Varma Deepkumar Section C

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT AHMEDABAD

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................................ 3 Violence against women ................................................................................................................................................ 4 Domestic Violence ....................................................................................................................................................... 5 The Indian context ...................................................................................................................................................... 6 Nari adalat ........................................................................................................................................................................... 7 Modus OPerandi ........................................................................................................................................................... 7 Other Support for Women ....................................................................................................................................... 8 The role of society ....................................................................................................................................................... 9 Mega-City resettlement ............................................................................................................................................ 10 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................................................ 14 References ........................................................................................................................................................................ 15

INTRODUCTION
Six decades past independence, the country has seen remarkable economic prosperity, and increasingly higher standards of living. But the stature and liberty that the Indian woman enjoys has not seen as dramatic an ascent. As much as people as reluctant to face it, the practice of dowry and acts of domestic violence very much prevail. One may ponder as to how the legislature and law enforcement agencies of the world‟s largest democracy fail to contain these transgressions. One debatable reason is that these bodies do not function very effectively for victims belonging to every stratum of the society. Often, taking a legal course of action against such actions can require a lot of money, sometimes too much for most victims to afford. This apart, the extent to which the Indian legislature is loaded with pending cases makes it unlikely that a verdict for such a case will be received in favourable amount of time. These factors have motivated initiatives like the „Nari Adalat’ to come into being and take action. These groups focus on solving issues involving injustice against women, including domestic violence and mental harassment in such a way as to ensure that not only does the victim gets the desired verdict, but to as much extent as possible the interest and prosperity of the family as whole is prioritized. This focus, however, faces its own set of hurdles. Many of these organizations lack the degree of support they require which limits the number of victims they can help. The fact that they are seen by some as a “divorcing agency” creates another significant impediment as it may influence the will of a victim to approach them. This report aims to describe the key learnings of violence against women, acquired from the observational visit to the „Nari Adalat’, to enumerate the major issues currently faced, and suggest how the society can contribute to and subsequently benefit from its functional success.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The present situation of insensitivity against women in India is a result of an old stereotyped belief that supports male superiority and dominance. It takes many forms, ranging from verbal abuse to severe physical violence. Generally, these acts of aggression remain hidden, most never surface to societal knowledge, but what they do leave behind is traumatic hardships, and sometimes, death. This insensitivity exists in variety of conducts most of which are very common. The following enlists a few of those (Saravanan, 2000) (Immoral Trafficking, 1998).  Female foeticide and Infanticide. Various technologies meant for detecting pre-birth abnormalities are being widely used in the Indian subcontinent for determination of the gender of the foetus. A strong prevailing preference for a male child, thus, forms a reason for the pregnancy being aborted and possibly risks the woman‟s life, or more likely affect her physical and mental health.  Child Marriage. The primary reason of the practice of marrying minors is a remnant of traditions that are ages old. The 1991 census showed, however, that 37.48 per cent of the all Indian districts still have a mean age of marriage below the legal age of 18. As a result of forced child marriages, the minor brides are not only deprived of education, but also face enforced widowhood, lack of economic independence, low health/Nutritional status as a result of early/frequent pregnancies in an unprepared psychological state.  Child Prostitution and Child Trafficking. Prostitution in India is a Rs 40,000 crore annual business. It has been estimated that 30% of the sex workers are children, who earn Rs.11, 000 crore. (Immoral Trafficking, 1998). Poverty and deprivation, in addition to a low status in society for girls are primary reasons for child prostitutions, and highly prevalent in the Indian sub-continent. Presently the number of child prostitutes in India is between 270,000 and 400,000, with the number of children in “commercial prostitution” increasing at the rate of 8-10% per annum.  Sexual Harassment at work. Sexual harassment at work can take many forms ranging from sexual remarks made to, to asking for sexual favours from a co-employee. Generally, constructing the guidelines for conduct to avoid such behaviour is the

responsibility of the employer. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for the victim to face sympathy, disdainful glances, and isolation by her colleagues.  Eve Teasing. The variety of actions that can be classified as act of Eve Teasing is vast. A bigger concern, however, is not „What‟ constitutes eve teasing, but „Where‟ it can happen, which is, incidentally, almost everywhere; roads, transportation facilities, public places; even the subjects‟ home and neighbourhood. The above conducts are but a few faces of the trauma that women can potentially face. Domestic violence is perhaps a more prevalent issue and one that affects women more harshly. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Domestic violence refers to all acts of intimidation and aggression which forces a woman to seek redressal by breaking the silence imposed on her by a patriarchal culture (Poonacha & Paney, 1999). Every form of mental, physical or sexual harm done to a woman by her marital family members constitutes domestic violence. The prevalence of this genre of felony in India is perhaps amongst the highest. A 2002 study showed that 45% of Indian women are subjected to domestic violence (Majumdar, 2003). The fact which worsens this condition is that a lot of these acts go unreported because of various reasons that the victim has, the most influential of which may be societal pressure. The following are few of the major factors that can instigate or have a positive correlation with domestic violence (Saravanan, 2000).  Dowry. A relic of tradition which has been followed for ages, the practice of Dowry is often a cause of a number of hardships faced by a bride or her maternal family. Inability of the maternal family to meet dowry demands posed to them by the marital family, can often lead the latter to subject the bride to humiliation, abuse and various other means of mental and physical torture.  Disobedience of the spouse’s dictates. To a large extent in the Indian society, subjecting wives to physical abuse for disobeying her husband, just or otherwise, is considered legitimate. It is this wide acceptance of domestic violence by the society that makes it difficult to trace and reap out.

Education. Literacy levels of both the spouses have a significant correlation with domestic violence. A survey conducted in Gujarat in 1999 showed that illiterate women face more violence than literate women. Education in this context does not refer only to the primary education but also that of women regarding the rights they have. Illiteracy

Chiefly, violence happens in three environments, and all elements of these environments play an important role in the continuance of the violence (Saravanan, 2000). 1. The Family. The idea of inequality between the sexes, and subsequent power over the resources is often upheld at this level. 2. The Community. This includes the social, religious or cultural boundaries which surround the subject, and support the ideology of male dominance 3. The State. This includes the law enforcement agencies which maintain and back the same set of ideologies, and discriminatory practice of law. THE INDIAN CONTEXT The Indian legislature has introduced and amended many laws that are meant protect women against, and deliver justice for acts of violence and discrimination. However, the extent of these injustices that these laws cover, and to which they are effective, is small. The Dowry Prohibition Act, for instance, which was passed in 1961 and amended in 1984 and 1986, tackles violence issues pertaining to dowry only. The World Human Rights Conference in Vienna in 1993, recognised gender based violence as a human rights violation. Yet, it did little to decelerate the practice (Tiwari, 2002). Nearly 8000 cases of domestic violence were legally reported in 2007, needless to say that the actual number of victims was much higher (7,913 cases on "domestic violence" registered in One Year, 2007). Given that it can take an Indian court anywhere between 5 to 15 years to decide on a case, it only adds to the trauma that the victim is already going through (CurrentAffairs : The Indian legal system - Law and Disorder, 2006 ). The inefficiency of the Indian judicial system in delivering quick and reasonable justice in these cases is also a factor of the prevailing tendency of the law enforcement to discriminate.

It is in cases like these that organizations focused on bringing justice to women in cases of domestic violence sometimes have a role to play in tackling the issue of unfair and incomplete support of the law enforcing bodies, by reporting the matter to the higher officials, or to various bodies constituted for women like National and State Commissions for Women.

NARI ADALAT
Formed in 1986, the Nari Adalat aims at solving cases involving injustice against married women outside the court, and based on the wrongs, help the victim choose whether she wants to continue the marriage or not and if not, for the husband to provide sufficient compensation. Their underlying agenda is to restore the identity that women lose when they undergo such situations of adversity. The court primarily focuses on helping women belonging families in the lower strata of the society, who have been victimized domestically or otherwise. These women are generally incapable of being able to afford the cost of the protocol involved in approaching the police or the court. The court believes that asking for assistance from law enforcement agencies, and following the usual protocol would not be very beneficial for the victims, that it would turn out to be too costly for them to afford, or too time consuming, and that the agencies would not be very willing to aid them or to deploy sufficient amounts of their resources for the same. The organization receives about 5 to 6 cases per month. They refrain from taking larger number of cases than that, since they have limited resources to handle more cases than that. MODUS OPERANDI The court has a separate investigation cell (The Fact Finding Team), consisting of a two member team and responsible for gathering data about the case. Based on this data the advocates of the court decide upon the level of injustice done, the entities involved, their level of involvement, the appropriate justice to be given to the plaintiff, and the approach to be used.

The approach that is most generally used involves approaching the bailiff party and seeking a way to solve the issue without any hassles, mental or otherwise, for the plaintiff(s) and the bailiff(s). The court believes that warning the bailiff party of the consequences of them approaching the police or broadly making the issue an official legal case can strongly influence the bailiff to do the right thing; that resolving the conflict this way was a small price pay to avoid the undesirable repercussions that could follow otherwise. The case, after collecting all relevant data, is taken up by a two member team for discussion and hearing. This happens in the presence of the victim and the bailiff parties, where the bailiff‟s side of the story is heard. These discussions are meant to be held as participatory as possible, so that the family involved can settle the issue on their own terms, with as little involvement and directives of the Nari Adalat as possible. This approach is said to have a high success rate at a non-legal level. However, this doesn‟t keep the court from being criticized for a few reasons. Some people accuse it to be a „divorcing agency‟ that „breaks families apart‟, although the court still maintains that it lets the victim choose the course of final action whether she wants to continue that family tie or not. The organization charges Rs. 500 for every case and the sum is usually expected to be paid by the bailiff(s). However, if the party cannot afford the sum, reasonable concession can be given in such cases. OTHER SUPPORT FOR WOMEN If during the course of the case solving, the victim desires to stay away from the bailiff, the Nari Adalat makes provisions for her stay. Apart from this, if the victim wishes not to return to the family after the case has been heard and verdict reached, the nari Adalat acts to help her make her own living and be as self dependant as possible, as soon as possible. For instance, the Nari Adalat supports such victims to learn various things that can help them make a livelihood, through an initiative called the Centre for Development. If the victim is not very educated they can chose to undergo a course of making handicraft articles (involving file folders, bags, greeting cards). This course is chosen by mostly women from villages, and some of these articles are exported to Malaysia. With sufficient education, they

can be helped to become office assistants and clerks. Another option is of becoming a female driving instructor, as some driving students prefer a female instructor. THE ROLE OF SOCIETY Initiatives like the Nari Adalat are still in a very early stage of operation and run on limited resources and hence limited capabilities. Given the ultimate success of the cases tackled by these institutions, it will benefit the society as a whole to assist them. The following are a few ways in which the society and the government can play in supporting them, and how the initiatives themselves can increase their reach and effectiveness.  Training and educating police/medical/legal and other personnel to respond adequately to the victim‟s needs/rights to develop new attitudes and skills in dealing with this issue.  Women must be educated about their rights and government welfare programmes that can assist them. This can be done by holding awareness campaigns, especially in rural areas. Women must also be assisted in having access economic resources, information, etc.  Organizations like the Nari Adalat, can collaborate with other such institutions, to increase their effectiveness and reach.  Such institutes can identify and monitor vulnerable families to prevent potential violence  Such organizations can help in increasing the effectiveness of the legal framework by providing a channel for victims who received unfair and incomplete assistance of the law enforcement agencies, to report the matter to higher officials or to various bodies constituted for women like National and State Commissions for Women.  The organizations can have local vernaculars write articles about them, or about a few of their biggest cases, how they resulted in the prosperity of the family and the role that Nari Adalat played in that, so that people realize the need to enforce such institutions, could help garner more support (financially and otherwise). As people know how exactly they function, and that their main motive is not to break families

but to help the victim restore a peaceful state of mind, the allegations that these institutions are „divorcing agencies‟ MEGA-CITY RESETTLEMENT In 2007, almost 4000 households were relocated from the slums of the city to the outskirts of Ahmedabad, to a place called Naroli, to accommodate more space for the MegaCity project. The Nari Adalat uses the housing facilities in this area to accommodate some victims of domestic abuse who have chosen to stay away from their husbands. Incidentally, the Nari Adalat receives quite a few cases from this resettlement. Most of these families riot victims and still haven‟t got their compensation from the Gujarat government. The location has highly inhabitable conditions.

FIGURE 1: UNHIGEINIC CONDITIONS

The fact that the resettlement is so far from the city, makes a lot of important things out of convenient vicinity, like school, employment, food, insufficient, irregular supply of electricity. Besides these, other major problems are that of security issues, insufficient drainage and sewer system, causing various threats to health.

FIGURE 2: UNHIGIENIC CONDITIONS RESULT IN CHANCES OF DISEASE SPREADING EASILY

Probably the biggest concern is their source of water. The water is dug out from borewells, in a highly industrial area. It is very likely contaminated with hazardous industrial impurities. The acute water shortage results in many diseases spreading in the area. And even in the case of a disease outbreak there is no medical facility available in the vicinity. Most of the women make ends meet by making bags. Even for these the demand is very poor and only once in a while they get orders. Some of the men work as pizza delivery boys, which brings in some form of sustainable revenue to the household.

FIGURE 3: TEMPORARY STAY NOTICE ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT

The government has given them a temporary spot in this area. These people, who have worked very hard to build homes here, have no future to look forward to. Given their temporary status, they are the mercy of the government. Their houses and land can be evicted from them any moment. The families living there are denied some of the basic rights that every citizen in India should have. The most notable among them is the right to vote. To have some hope for them, the need to be able to elect a representative who can fight for their rights. The people have been denied even this basic right. They are in a very pitiable and deplorable state.

FIGURE 4: DESPICABLE STATE OF AFFAIRS

When the resurgent India is basking in the glory of the IT boom, the buying power of its middle class and the growth rate of its GDP, a visit to the homes here brings us back to reality. Families here still fight everyday to ensure that their children don‟t go hungry for the night. One starts to wonder the merit of having a high flying economic development for the country, when people are still fighting for basic needs. The question that need immediate attention are - Why are these people ignored by the government? One important observation

is that many of the families here are Muslims, mainly victims from the riots. Could this be one of the reasons why the families here are ignored by the government?

CONCLUSION
It is clear that the occurrence of violence against women in India is widespread, happens to diverse strata of women, and happens for a diverse set of reasons. Due to the victims‟ fear of societal reactions and subsequent repercussions, most of these cases go unreported. Unfortunately, the prevalent legal framework and its ineffectiveness in delivering justice to the case that are, in fact, reported; make it an extensively unsolved issue. Organizations like the Nari Adalat thus play an important role in helping the victims of these acts, delivering justice to them, and perhaps effecting changes that may prevent such acts from happening again. Most of such organizations, however, have restricted amounts of resources which limits the reach and effectiveness of these organizations, and hence require support from the society. Adequate assistance from them can empower these institutions to deal with the issue more successfully.

REFERENCES
7,913 cases on "domestic violence" registered in One Year. (2007, October 26). Retrieved March 15, 2009, from Legal News India - Vakilno1.com: http://news.vakilno1.com/2007/10/7913cases-on-domestic-violence.html CurrentAffairs : The Indian legal system - Law and Disorder. (2006 , September 12). Retrieved March 15, 2009, from World of India!: http://worldofindia.blogspot.com/2006/09/currentaffairs-indian-legal-system-law.html Immoral Trafficking. (1998, November 10). Times of India . Majumdar, S. (2003, June 11). In India, Domestic Violence Rises with Education. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from Womens' e News: http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/1591 Poonacha, V., & Paney, D. (1999). Responses to Domestic Violence: Government and NonGovernment Action in Karnataka and Gujarat. Economic and Political Weekly , XXXV, p. 566. Saravanan, S. (2000, March). Violence Against Women in India; A literature Review. Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) . Tiwari, K. (2002). Violence Against Women In India, Suffering Continues Despite Progress All Over. Disha Social Organization.

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