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Dowry Harassment on Rise; Women’s Helpline Logs Most Calls on Domestic Violence

Violence Against Women in India

According to the reports of the universal helpline for women 181, the 24-hour helpline, an initiative of the government to ensure the safety and security of women, 50% of the calls are from victims of domestic violence. 

As reported among these domestic violence cases many are by their husband or in-laws regarding dowries. While some cases are just verbal harassment in some cases the women are being beaten, physically harassed, and even left outdoors in the house. 

Women in India have many legal rights that can be beneficial for them. But most women are not educated about their rights while some just chose to remain silent without reporting that they are being abused. Even the woman’s own family is not supportive at such times because of the shame and guilt surrounding such issues. 

Domestic violence is not only about heated arguments, there’s also physical abuse, emotional torture, and more commonly economic abuse. When the husband or in-laws takes control of or limits access to shared assets or limits the earning potential of the victim as a strategy of power and control, that is known as economic abuse. 

Lack of healthy relationships, misogyny, patriarchal attitude, socio-economic status, consumption of alcohol and drugs are the most common reasons for violence against women. 

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code refers to domestic violence against women. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:

  • Conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
  • Conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb, or health of the woman,
  • Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
  • Harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.

The punishment is imprisonment for upto three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty needs not be lodged by the person herself. Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf.

Universal helpline for women 181, has helped many women in cases like these related to domestic violence. All of the calls the helpline receives are scrutinized and transferred to the department concerned such as 108 for any physical abuse or counseling, or 100 for any police-related case. 

In case of any medical emergencies related to violence on women, medical assistance (108 ambulances) is provided. If the woman is pushed out of her house, they are then shifted to the temporary shelter home till she gets a permanent place to reside. Women are also provided with free legal guidance on request through the helpline. 

“The aim of the helpline is to rescue and protect women against crime, harassment, abuse or exploitation and reduce the crime rate,” said GVK EMRI deputy manager Shrinivas Deshpande. 

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