On Tuesday, Savitri Rane, 72, was unaware of the hoopla around Women’s Day celebrations.
Ten months ago, Rane (name changed) was driven out of her home in Matunga after a dispute with her son. She is now learning the laws to fight her case against her son.
According to her the status of women has not improved over the years.
Statistics obtained from the Mumbai police reveal that crimes against women are on the rise.
In 2009, there were 1,196 complaints of crimes against women. The number rose to 1,269 in 2010 (see box).
Rane’s harassment began in 2008 when her eldest son lost his job and shifted into her Matunga residence with his family.
“They abused me almost every day and my son would return home drunk,” said Rane, who suffers from high blood pressure and insomnia. “In my old age I have to make the rounds of police stations, NGOs and courts neglecting my health,” said the widow, who is living with relatives.
An eight-year study (2001 to 2008) conducted by the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (Sneha), a Dharavi-based NGO, reveals that even young women face domestic abuse. Of the 1,106 complaints received from local women, the maximum (471) were from women in the age group of 20 to 29.
The study also stated that most complaints related to emotional abuse, monetary issues and difficulty with partner.
“While women from the lower strata of the society come forward and talk about their problems at home, the higher-class women are still hesitant about talking about the troubles within the family. Most call us and tell us of their problems by stating that their maid or their friend is facing the situation,” said Jenny Salam, senior project officer, Sneha.
Dr Donta Balaya, deputy director for National Institute for Research in Reproductive health, said crimes within the family would have to be tackled to address issues pertaining to women’s reproductive health.
“So far, we only focused on reproductive health of women. However, now we are looking forward to come up with programmes to help women solve their troubles,” said Dr Balaya.
“We found that violence indirectly affect their reproductive health. Domestic violence may lead to multiple partners for a man. Multiple partners may lead to HIV and he may even give the virus to a woman.”
Dr Balaya edited the book ‘Gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health’ released by Indian Council of Medical research in February. The book has raised issues such as violence against childless women, elderly women, adolescent and newly married women.