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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 14:49 GMT
India's violent homes
Indian women
One in five married women in India experiences domestic violence
By Geeta Pandey in Delhi

Every six hours somewhere in India a young married women is burnt alive, beaten to death, or driven to commit suicide.

Prominent lawyer and social activist Indira Jaisingh, who heads the Women's Legal Aid Centre in Delhi, has been campaigning for a new law to deal with violence in the home.

Now she is launching a book:The Law of Domestic Violence: A users' manual for women, to draw attention to the rarely discussed problem of domestic violence.

Given the bleak statistics, Ms Jaisingh hopes the book will help women in distress understand what their options are.

New law

At least 20% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 experience domestic violence, many of them on a continual basis.

Law and Justice Minister Arun Jaitley
Law and Justice Minister Arun Jaitley wants campaign against domestic violence.
Aside from physical and sexual violence, the abuse can be mental and economic.

In the foreword to the new book, Law and Justice Minister Arun Jaitley calls for a sustained country-wide campaign against domestic violence.

Ms Jaisingh hopes the manual will also be of use to lawyers and NGOs which work with women.

Getting away it

Activists say a major source of concern in India is that society has failed to evolve strong social sanctions against violent men.

A recent survey by the International Institute for Population Studies, showed that an astonishing 56% of Indian women believed wife beating to be justified in certain circumstances.

The reasons varied from going out without the husband's permission, to neglecting the house or children, to cooking a bad meal.

Experts say because abuse usually takes place behind closed doors, it is often denied by the victims themselves.

Moreover many choose to stay quiet because of a lack of support.

In traditional Indian society, parents or siblings would rarely encourage a victim of domestic violence to leave her husband or marital family.

To makes matters worse, there is no law in India dealing specifically with domestic violence.

See also:

17 Feb 01 | South Asia
13 Feb 01 | Scotland
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