Posted by Quintus Colombage
Sri Lankan statistics on domestic violence are truly horrifying. The Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Empowerment says more than 60 percent of women are victims while an astounding 44 per cent of pregnant women are also on the receiving end.
I recently went to a village meeting on the subject and learned some important facts. Perhaps most shocking of all is the fact that most women are in denial when it comes to this. “A necessary evil,” and “part of married life,” are phrases that are commonly heard.
Those women who do admit there’s a problem say they won’t go to the police for fear of reprisals. Others say they have no faith in the legal institutions to uphold their rights.
One woman at the meeting, who works on an estate, said her husband had attacked her with a knife and nearly killed her but she had even not filed a complaint because of family loyalty. She was assaulted and battered from the day after her wedding; the violence did not stop when she was pregnant. She loves her two children very much, so she doesn’t want to make trouble for her husband. “That’s life,” she said.
In south Asian counties, it’s not just about husband and wife. There can be violence amongst older or younger siblings, parents and children, even wives and mothers-in-law.
What can we do to change it? First and foremost, I believe we need a proper, formalized support system for battered persons.
We also have to change society’s misguided notion that if a victim tries to end the violence by seeking support it will lead to divorce or marriage breakdown.
And we have to address the long term problem that women are almost always economically reliant on their husbands. Many women don’t report domestic violence because they depend on their family unit for sheer survival. With more possibilities for betterment and employment, a woman will be more willing to stand up for herself.
What do you think? Please share your opinion on this.