Disclaimer: This article does not intend to polarize claim on abuse on the basis of gender or pass judgments on anyone with statistics. All cases differ and are subjected to judicial verdicts.
Shalini Talwar accuses husband, Honey Singh of domestic violence. Imagine Prince Charming swooping Cinderella off her feet, only to take her home and have her subjected to the cruelty that would put even the stepmother to shame. You don’t have to because 1 in every 3 women in India is likely to face violence from their partners, research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health revealed.
In a not-so-unusual turn of events Shalini Talwar, the wife of infamous Bollywood rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh accused him of domestic violence, inciting a whole row of “Finally aunty ne police bula liya.” She had reportedly filed the case under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in Delhi’s Tis Hazari Court. Talwar claims to be abused physically, mentally, emotionally and has been subjected to spousal cheating. Many millennials came forward and labeled Honey Singh’s music as “extremely sexist”, “misogynistic” and “garbage” and stood in solidarity with Talwar and many more women who don’t have the means or the sense of security to file cases against their – included but not limited to – husbands. Unfortunately, many even scorned Talwar for coming out too late or calling her “greedy” for demanding financial reparations from her offender.
Even though the verdict on this case is still due, there are innumerous domestic violence cases in India that fail to garner attention from the media and public or have their offenses taken seriously.
HERE ARE SOME DISTURBING STATISTICS
Domestic cases are widely prevalent in India and according to the NCRB report of 2019, it states that 30.9% of all the 4.05 lakh cases under crimes against women have been registered under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This section deals with ‘cruelty by husbands and their relatives.’ NCRB 2019 also reported, about 70% of Indian women are victims of domestic violence. However, despite having the largest share of crimes against women, domestic violence is known to be an under-reported crime.
The NHFS-5 echoes the dark reality behind the closed doors of India. The well-known reason for “Ye ghar ka mamla hai” also factors in a lot of cases going unreported. Women respondents to NHFS (2019-20) in different states and their statistics: From Karnataka (44%) and Bihar (40%) having the highest to Goa (8.3%) and Himachal Pradesh (8.3%) having the lowest violence among all the states surveyed. About 11% of women (age 18-29) faced sexual violence before they turned 18.
Imagine living in a house with your husband of 5 years or 8 years or even 20 years and one day being beaten by a rolling pin. Or having your spine broken because you defeated him in Ludo. What would you do? Do you remember all the lovely days when he made chai and pakode for you and lament over the loss of a loving or even an adequate husband or do you Karate-kid him and run for your life? I’d choose the latter. But what about the women who don’t have the privilege to do that or are financially too reliant on those men or are burdened with the family’s izzat? They adjust to it, finding fault and guilt-tripping themselves into believing that being hit physically, mentally, emotionally is okay or even sometimes justified. In 2020, during lockdown between March 25 and May 31, 1,477 complaints of domestic violence were made by women. Quarantining from a deadly disease and the world fighting tooth and nail to survive somehow made men more animalistic, which is truly a puzzle. In most cases of abuse, be it domestic or even road rage, violence has been used to assert dominance – a clear case that happens behind the curtains of this “moral and ethical” society of India.
Not just women though, toxic masculinity and patriarchy seem to affect men too. About 22% of men reported being victims of physical domestic violence, 17% sexual, 59% psychological, and 59.5% any form of domestic violence. By comparing the data of the NCRB and the NHFS-5, there is an under-reporting of domestic violence incidents in 14 of the 20 or 70% of the states. The world of crime, however, does not stop with men and women, it shadows all. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 54% of their respondents had faced some type of violence from their partners.
LAWS FOR WOMEN
Numerous laws have been placed to secure women’s bodily autonomy – Section 375, 376, 376-A-D IPC, 1860, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Sections 12-29, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, etc., etc. The Government of India had also declared 2001 as the year of women’s empowerment but I guess a lot of people skipped out on that year.
Unfortunately, marital rape is still not criminalized under Indian Law. IPC Section 375 that defines rape has an exception: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts, by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” This, in a country where NCRB 2019 reported 88 rape cases a day – 10% of all crimes against women.
Honey Singh, however, had failed to appear in the Court on Aug 28. He presented himself in front of the Court on September 3rd, issuing a statement and refuting all allegations and calling them, “cynical and defaming in nature”.
Juhi Salim is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Reda Aamna