Why women assault victims in India are 40 times more likely to die than in the US
The twin problems of blaming and shaming victims of assault – physical, emotional, or sexual – are deeply entrenched in the traditional Indian conservative societyUpdated: Sep 12, 2017, 17:06 IST
A study published in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Global Healthreveals that Indian women who are victims of assault are 40 times more likely to die than US women who are victims of assault. The study that compared more than 25,000 trauma cases in the two countries found that while women in the US had five times better odds of surviving road accidents and falls as compared to Indian women, largely due to better available medical care; the numbers were really skewed when it came to assault. The paper goes on to cite several studies that show that only about “one in four women in India seeks care services related to experiencing intimate partner violence.”
This is a worrying trend and reflects a much larger social problem of condoning and not recognising incidents of violence against women, especially within the family system. It cannot be denied that the twin problems of blaming and shaming victims of assault – physical, emotional, or sexual – are deeply entrenched in the traditional conservative family set-up in which women are actively encouraged to ‘adjust’ to almost anything. Most of the hidden instances of assault and abuse arise as a direct result of the ‘honour’ argument. The victim is seen as a culprit for having maligned the honour of the family by revealing the abuse she has been subjected to; instead of looking at it as dishonourable to subject a person to emotional or physical abuse and assault. It is this deep seated patriarchal mindset that must first change for there to be adequate rehabilitation for those who have suffered assault at the hands of an intimate partner or someone from the immediate family. The slow process of the law is another impediment when it comes to victims reporting instances of such violence.
India needs a better system of legal help and social support in order for victims to not only be able to report physical abuse but also to escape it. The mindset that shames women and other victims of abuse into silence will have to change drastically for that to happen. The legal system will have to take the lead in encouraging more reporting of violence; but the social and family systems must undergo a major overhaul in order to prevent such abuse and help victims.