Domestic violence is a very real phenomenon. It is widespread, deeply ingrained and has serious impacts on women’s health and well-being, experts have been saying it all the way. It is a very specific crime with multiple aspects, including emotional and mental torture, withholding of finances, etc. For many women, leaving home is the only recourse to escape from an insufferable existence. At the same time, they do not always have other family members willing to take them in. For a woman in such a situation, the availability of shelter homes can only help as she has nowhere to go.
Some believe that one of the main reasons why women put up with daily abuse and violence is that there is no other place for them to go where they can take shelter. The parents of the victim often force them to live with the perpetrator regardless of the kind and level of abuse that a victim is going through.
In other words, the women victims of domestic violence choose to suffer and bear the agony, violence and harassment rather than reporting it.
In absence of shelter homes, the victims of violence are made to live with their abuser. This not only affects the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a woman, but leaves an equal impact on the psyche and sensibilities of the children living in an abusive environment.
Some say the discrimination against women in the housing sphere is the result of the predominance of customary laws and practices which discriminate against women, lack of access to remedies, information or decision-making processes and lack of awareness of rights.
The World Health Organization reports that the proportion of women who had ever experienced physical or sexual violence or both by an intimate partner ranged from 15% to 71%, with the majority between 29% and 62%. In an unconventional society like Kashmir, if a woman tries live in a rented accommodation as there are no shelter homes, they are often subjected to intense character assassination, and are often refused to be accepted back in the household.
The government, which is constitutionally bound to protect her, must step up to fulfil its duty. There is already a legislation— The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The establishment of shelter homes, as mandated by the Act would play a prominent role in the efficacious implementation of the social welfare legislation.