With the dismaying rise in the cases of domestic violence during lockdown, the never-ending battle against domestic violence needs to have a tenfold increase. Acting on the alarming situation, the You Can Foundation, on 7th November, organized a panel discussion on understanding domestic violence and its impact on family’s metal health. The poster for the panel rightly read, “A home is one’s safe haven but not every house is a home”.
The foundation, for the session, hosted three esteemed panelist working closely with the agenda of the discussion. Ms. Uma Sharma, principal of PKR Jain Vatika School; Ms. Ambareen Abdullah, mental health professional and Dr. Avijit Chakravarti, educationist and journalist. The moderator for the session was Mr. Monis Shamsi, founder of You Can Foundation. Lastly, the person who played a huge role in conceptualizing and organizing the session was Iqra Khan, psychologist and a mental health professional.
Starting the session, the moderator, making everyone aware of the urgency of the situation, highlighted that while the current number of deaths by COVID-19 is a little more than 1 lakh, the no of death of a girl child, annually, is at 6 crores. That’s 6 crores young lives, who could have achieved so much in their lives, but were either killed before or after their birth solely because of the never-dying gender biasness in our society.
Among the unsettlingly number of domestic violence cases, only 12% of women are able to file a report to the police mainly due to the societal pressure that engrains the submissive nature into women ever since they are young. Starting with his first question, the moderator asks the panelists that what constitutes as violence. In a precise explanation, Ms Ambareen replied that they are 4 categories of violence. First is physical, second is verbal, third is emotional and fourth is sexual.
Dr. Avijit, from his own experience of working in communities during communal violence, said that gender based violence is a central point in a communal violence. While talking about violence in general, he thinks that it is more psychological.
Following up on the same, Mr. Monis asks Dr avijit, how does the stereotyping and objectification of women in ads/fils/songs, protes violence. Anwering to which, Dr avijit replies that these celebritiries with huge fan following, when promote such objectionable content in their projects, it legitimizes the wrongful portrayal of women in media.
Moving on to the next uestion, the moderator asks that this mentality of violence among men, is it from the beginning as students or something that develops after marriage. Ms Uma thinks that this is not something that develops overnight. A child ever since he is young, notices his parents behavior around the house. So when he is surrounded with toxic environment, he constitutes it as a normal behavior and later behaves the same when he grows up, as a result this vicious cycle continues. Over the years their mindset becomes aggressive.
Mr. Monis, then questioned the need of violence and raised a point that the culprit is these cases is surely not stable, so in that case how do we see this situation. To this, ms ambareen responded that they usually adopt this kind of behavior from their surroundings. To understand this situation, first theory is that, it’s about power game. A child that has always seen his father being dominant over his mother incorporated the same cycle of dominance in his marriage. The second theory states that the culprit may have been a victim himself but since the society associates being a victim as being weak, they never speak up. She thinks that in our country, this whole oppression is being handled as a personal issue. It needs to be a political issue. In addition, that we need to redefine masculinity.
Moderator then points out that in many cases, the violent person becomes guilt ridden afterwards. So what is the psychology of women when this happens. Ms. Ambareen lists that women during these situations suffer from a number of psychological issues like PTSD, Somatic symptom disorder, anxiety, trauma and post-natal depression.
Mr. Monis then says, when we talk about stereotyping, women are equally playing a part. So what role do the women play in creating this stereotype. Answering to this, Dr. Avijit said that violence is not gender specific but there is no denying that the maximum no of domestic violence victim are women. Therefore, they start advocating the same the same thought process. He believes that patriarchy is mindset. With his experience from working on field during communal violence, he said that during the moments of conflict, the sexual abuse of boys take place in a large amount. However, the victims never share the incident with anyone, as it is not considered masculine.
Adding to this, Ms Ambareen said that our society has associated abuse with shame. As a result, there is way less discussion about the proprietor while talking about cases of abuse. People, who confront sexual abuse, suffer from major psychological damages. She also highlighted the situation of LGBT+ during lockdown, who are caged inside their house with their abusive families.
When asked if the probability of violence is more in arranged marriages or love marriages, Dr Avijit says that there is no hard and fast rule. In both kinds of marriages, 8 out of 10 households do not have equal sharing of household work. This is the starting point of gender stereotyping.
The moderator then askers Ms Uma if educated and financially independent women face less violence. To this, she replies that only these two factors are not important. In many cases where the woman is superior, either it ends in divorce or she opts to stay in the abusive relationship due to her sanskaars that expects her to adjust into the abusive lifestyle.
Concluding the session, the moderator, Mr Monis thanked all the panelists for their wonderful insights on the subject and building a perspective on the same.
You Can Foundation, founded in 2013, is an NGO that was started with the vision of empowering the youth by providing them volunteering and learning opportunities in the development sector.
Voice of Margin on many occasions has collaborated with the You Can Foundation.