Even in 2020, domestic violence remains an unrelenting reality in India. With patriarchy still reigning in the country, women remain at the risk of facing physical and mental abuse inside their homes, from their own family members. Contrary to popular notion, women from lesser privileged sections of the society are not the only survivors of domestic violence. The menace pervades the socio-economic gap and affects women of all social strata.
Husbands and in-laws happen to be the most common perpetrators. From torture over dowry to demands of a male child, Indian women endure domestic violence in all shapes, forms and intensity. In most of the cases, women refrain from stepping forward to seek legal help due to threats of dire consequences.
The recently released trailer of the upcoming Taapsee Pannu-starrer Thappad portrays a very vivid picture of domestic violence in India, sending out the message that abuse in any form or extent should be condemned.
Indian Penal Code and Domestic Violence
Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code was introduced in 1983 to protect married women from violence perpetrated by the husband or his family/relatives. The perpetrator can face up to 3 years of imprisonment and a penalty, depending on the intensity of the violence inflicted. The expression ‘cruelty’ used in the statement of the law indicates physical or mental harm to the health of the woman and acts of harassment under the pretext of dowry demands or other domestic conflicts.
Furthermore, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act) entitles all Indian women to necessary support and protection from domestic abuse. The law enables women to have complete access to treatment (in case of injuries), legal aid, counselling and shelter homes. Under Section 20 of the DV Act, survivors can also claim monetary compensations from the perpetrators irrespective of their relationship with them.
At the same time, there have been reports of misuse of the domestic violence act by women against their husbands & in-laws. In addition, several men in India also face domestic abuse from their spouses or their families. They fail to seek legal help in most cases as certain laws in India are still lopsided with regards to gender. Recently, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that men can also be victims of domestic assault or misuse of the laws under DV Act.
It does not need saying that domestic violence is a vile curse on any healthy society, and it needs to be uprooted from the roots. If you are a survivor or witness of domestic violence, here is a list of organisations & helplines you can reach out to for immediate assistance, support and protection.
1. National Domestic Violence helpline
181 happens to be the 24X7 national helpline for domestic abuse survivors. Alternatively, a survivor can also dial 1091 (Women in Distress helpline) to seek instant help.
2. National Commission For Women (NCW) – Delhi / India
The National Commission For Women (NCW) has collaborated with Delhi Police & Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai to launch ‘Violence Free Home – A Woman’s Right’. To exercise stricter action against domestic violence, special police cells have been set up across Delhi where such incidents can be reported. Here is a list of contact details for the Crime Against Women (CAW) Cells in the national capital.
The NCW can also be contacted in cases of emergency for seeking immediate protection against domestic violence. While 011-23237166 and 011- 23234918 are the national numbers of the commission, the following helplines are also active nationwide and will connect a survivor to her/his nearest police station or women’s cell.
3. Domestic abuse helplines for women in top metropolises
To curb crime against women and reduce the occurrence of domestic violence, almost every major Indian city has set up exclusive helplines for women in distressed situations. Here is a comprehensive list:
- Delhi Commission For Women – 011-23379181, 011-23370597
- Delhi Women Protection Cell – 011-24673366 / 4156 / 7699
- Bangalore Women Police – 080 2294 3250 / 080 2294 3225
- Mumbai Police Women Helpline – 103, 022-22633333, 022- 2620111
- Chennai Women Helpline – 1091, 044-23452659
- Hyderabad Women Police Station – 040-27852400 / 4852
- Kolkata Police Women’s Helpline – 1091, 98300 88884
- Ahmedabad – 181 (Abhayam), 079-26560235, 079-26560236
4. State-wise Women Helplines
Every Indian state aims to uphold a no-tolerance attitude towards acts of domestic violence, which is why more and more women helplines have been set up in recent years. Here’s a list one can trust:
- Andhra Pradesh
- Andhra Pradesh Women Protection cell – 040-23320539
- Andhra Pradesh Women Commission – 0863-2329090
- Arunachal Pradesh
- Arunachal Pradesh Women Commission – 0360-2214567, 0360-2290544
- Assam Women Helpline – 181, 9345215029, 0361-2521242
- Assam State Commission for Women – 0361-2227888, 0361-2220150
- Bihar Women Helpline – 1800 3456 247, 0612-2320047 / 2214318
- Chattisgarh State Commission for Women – 0771-2429977, 0771-4013189, 1800 2334 299, 0771-4241400
- Goa Women Helpline – 1091, 0832-2421208
- Goa State Commission for Women – 0832-2421080
- State Commission for Women – 18002331111, 079-23251604, 079-23251613
- Haryana Women and Child Helpline – 0124-2335100
- Helpline for women in Distress – 9911599100
- Haryana Mahila Aayog – 0172-2584039, 0172-2583639
- Himachal Pradesh
- State Commission For Women, HP – 9816077100, 0177-2622929
- Karnataka Women Police – 0821-2418400
- Karnataka Women’s Commission – 080-22100435 / 22862368, 080-2216485
- Vanitha Helpline Number of Kerala Police – 9995399953
- Kerala Women’s Commission – 0471-2322590 / 2320509 / 2337589 / 2339878 / 2339882
- Madhya Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh Women’s Commission – 0755-2661813 / 2661802 / 2661806 / 2661808
- Madhya Pradesh Mahila Thana – 0731-2434999
- Maharashtra Women Helpline – 022-26111103, 1298, 103
- Maharashtra State Commission for Women – 07477722424, 022- 26592707
- Punjab Women Helpline – 9781101091
- Punjab Women’s Commission – 0172-2712607, 0172-2783607
- Rajasthan Women Helpline – 181, 0141-2744000
- Rajasthan State Commission for Women – 0141-2779001-4
- Tamil Nadu
- Tamil Nadu Women Helpline – 044-28592750
- Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women – 044-28551155
- Tripura Commission for Women – 0381-2323355 / 2322912
- Uttar Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh Women’s Commission – 0522-2306403, 18001805220, 6306511708 (WhatsApp)
5. NGOs Working Against Domestic Violence
Other than the active governmental engagement, several non-profit foundations are also working with survivors to prevent domestic abuse across states and cities. Aside from ensuring emergency protection, these organisations also provide post-trauma counselling and guidance. A few have been enlisted here who are doing exemplary work:
- Bengaluru – Vimochana (080-25492781), Hengasara Hakkina Sangha (080-26639884)
- Mumbai – Sneha (9833052493, 9833052684)
- Delhi – Shakti Shalini (1091/ 1291 /011-23317004) Shakti Shalini Women’s Shelter (011-24373736 / 24373737)
- Kolkata – Swayam (033 2486 3367/ 3368 / 3357)
- Chennai – The International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC) ( 9840888882 / 044 43111143 / 1800 102 7282)
- Pune – Asha Sanstha (9520 – 24484535), Nari Samata Manch (020- 24494652, 020 – 24473116)
6. Legal Advisory
Most survivors of domestic abuse are unaware of their legal rights and privileges which can guarantee adequate punishment to the perpetrator as well as provide multi-pronged support to the survivor. The lack of awareness is one of the main reasons behind the non-reporting of many domestic violence cases.
Domestic Violence Helpline (DVH India) is an organisation which provides expert legal advisory to women & men in need. They can be contacted at 9423827818.
Domestic violence is a tragic reality in the societal scenario of India. Speak up and seek help if you are facing abuse at home. Step up to prevent such heinous acts if you come across a person being assaulted inside their homes. It is impossible to eradicate the social evil unless and until stakeholders from all levels come together and prioritise basic human rights over and above everything else.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)
Featured image credits: Thappad trailer/YouTube