“Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women...” The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, General Assembly Resolution, December 1993 Since the 1990s, there has been increasing concern about violence against women in general, and domestic violence in particular, in both developed and developing countries. Not only has domestic violence been acknowledged worldwide as a violation of basic human rights, but an increasing amount of research highlights the health burdens, intergenerational effects, and demo-graphic consequences of such violence (United Nations, 1997; Heise et al., 1999; Jewkes, 2002; Campbell, 2002; Kishor and Johnson, 2004; 2006). Domestic violence occurs in all socioeconomic and cultural population subgroups; and in many societies, including India, women are socialized to accept, tolerate, and even rationalize domestic violence and to remain silent about such experiences. Violence of any kind has a detrimental impact on the economy of a country through increased disability, medical costs, and loss of labour hours; however, because women bear the brunt of domestic violence, they disproportionately bear the health and psychological burdens as well. Victims of domestic violence are abused inside what should be the most secure environment—their own homes—and usually by the persons they trust most Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic that kills, tortures, and maims – physically, psychologically, sexually and economically. It is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women and girls equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms. Violence against women is present in every country, cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. Even though most societies proscribe violence against women, the reality is that violations against women’s human rights are often sanctioned under the garb of cultural practices and norms, or through misinterpretation of religious tenets. Moreover, when the violation takes place within the home, as is very often the case, the abuse is effectively condoned by the tacit silence and the passivity displayed by the state and the law-enforcing machinery. The global dimensions of this violence are alarming, as highlighted by studies on its incidence and prevalence. No society can claim to be free of such violence, the only variation is in the patterns and trends that exist in countries and regions. Specific groups of women are more vulnerable, including minority groups, indigenous and migrant women, refugee women and those in situations of armed conflict, women in institutions and detention, women with disabilities, female children, and elderly women.
DOMESTIC VIOLANCE AS A CONCEPT
The term domestic violence is synonymous with family violence which envelopes elder abuse, child abuse, wife abuse and other forms of violence between family members. Violence between spouses is often defined as “Intimate Partner Violence”. IPV is also prevalent between partners who are not actually married. The abuser and the abused can be in a live-in arrangement. Terms like wife battering, wife beating, husband beating, husband abuse, wife abuse are regularly used in instances of domestic violence. In recent times words like “battering” and “battered” are less accepted because they do not cover other forms of violence which go beyond physical abuse. These other forms of abuse also have the potential create to severe mental and emotional disorders in individuals which can escalate in to acts of suicide and self-damage. In America, domestic violence is defined as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or...
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