Only one in seven women reports physical or sexual violence, reveals survey
Recorded cases fell from 24% in 2005-06 to 14% in 2015-16. NFHS-4 data also showed that around 76% of the women who faced physical or sexual violence in the country never sought help or informed anybody about it.
Fewer women are reporting instances of violence against them, with recorded cases falling from 24% in 2005-06 to 14% in 2015-16.
Data provided by the National Family Survey (NFHS-4), India’s biggest survey of social indicators, also showed that around 76% of the women who faced physical or sexual violence never sought help or informed anybody about it.
Physical violence – in this context – is defined as slapping, punching, kicking, burning, beating, dragging, attacking or threatening to harm a woman with a weapon. Sexual violence includes forcing a woman into intercourse or other sexual acts without consent.
Financial dependence, lack of education and little or no social support are some of the reasons for women choosing to suffer in silence. “The mindset of society needs to change because women who report cases of violence against them still face a lot of stigma. Such women find minimal or no support at all,” says Rekha Sharma, chairperson, National Commission for Women.
“Women are (usually) financially dependent on men, and in the absence of any fallback option, they don’t have a choice but to put up with abuse without complaining,” she adds.
Seeking help is more common among women who have experienced both physical and sexual violence (28%) than those who have suffered either one of the two (10-12%). The most common source of help is the woman’s family (65%), the husband’s family (28%) and friends (16%).
The most common sources of institutional support are the police (4%) and religious leaders (2%). Only 1% each sought assistance from doctors, lawyers or social service groups, shows NHFS-4 data.
“More women are approaching police with such complaints, either in writing or through helpline numbers. However, there are instances of women from rural areas not reporting sexual crimes due to lack of awareness or the social stigma attached to such incidents,” says Madhur Verma, Delhi Police spokesperson. “Some fear that approaching the police will worsen the situation and bring shame to them and their families.”