The issue of domestic violence despite it’s seriousness has remained a taboo in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and women generally don’t speak up if they face harassment, physical violence and similar problems because of the social stigma attached to it. In addition, the lack of safety network, and assistance to women who decide to complaint against their husbands or other family members is another issue which ensures that this problem being faced by almost half the women state is brushed under the carpet. The problem is even more acute in Kashmir Valley where women has been facing violence, and harassment and the issue rarely gets out from the confines of their homes due to social norms.
Roshan Begum, who had the courage to file a complaint against her husband says that she used to get beaten, and harassed by her husband and in-laws. Her husband would accuse her of not being beautiful while the extended family wanted her to get money from her parents for the education of her kid. The family was not ready to pay for the medical expenses of her son. Roshan ultimately decided to complain to a mediation centre for getting help. Her complaint has been heard several time but no solution has been been found. There are hundreds of such women in both Kashmir and Jammu who are carrying on relentlessly because they care for their families, and kids, and do not want to get into legal hassles. The lack of support from their parents, and poor financial situation further puts them into a corner with no way out of it.
In some cases, incidents of domestic violence have also led to suicides by women who find it impossible to withstand the pressure in their family life, while there are many who suffer from hyper tension and depression. The lack of support in their families, and men who are not ready to heed to the voice of reason leads to marital discard which mostly has a negative affect on the women in the family. Many times women are not ready to report to the police, and other authorities for the fear of their kids.
Lack of income, poor self-esteem, distribution of property, and family gold are some of the disputes which end up in domestic violence, and physical abuse. Another major reason for rising marital discord, says a valley based counselor is the rise in extra-martial affairs in both lower, middle class and upper strata of society. In some cases, the birth of a girl-child is also a reason where men decide to run away from the family leaving behind the women in destitution particularly in weaker sections of society.
Domestic violence in Jammu is also on the rise as the custom of dowry is one of the main culprits responsible for problems in the family. A local says that time has come for the civil society to come together, and work with government to put curbs on this tradition which has become a major problem as people despite getting educated are becoming more and more materialistic. One more important point is that educated women are now able to get jobs, and when the become financially independent they don’t mind challenging the male hegemony in the family. The challenge to the male ego leads to domestic strife when the abuse and violence happens the women are not ready to report it to the police as they fear repercussions on their family life. Experts however advice that if marital differences lead to physical abuse then the issue should be immediately reported to the authorities as it could also lead to serious problems, if it remains unreported.