Class and its relationship with domestic violence in India
If the issue of domestic violence were to be simplified, one would peg the blame on the lack of education, and thereby, the lack of awareness and the lack of change of an entrenched set of values. Especially in India, where the intensely patriarchal system has lead to the notion of wife-beating being justified on the grounds that after marriage, she is equivalent to any other object the husband owns. Many people can over-simplify the issue of domestic violence by saying that education is the solution to the issue. By that logic, the issue of domestic violence should not occur amongst the middle classes and the upper classes at all. However, news reports everyday say exactly the opposite. In order to understand the relationship between domestic violence and class, one must understand the former concept properly.
Domestic violence does not occur due to a particular class, ethnicity, religion or culture. The underlying cause of it all is the power play between the two genders. It is this power play which brings about violent urges in one partner to inflict pain upon the other. Because patriarchy is generally prevalent, and because in India, it is more of a fact than in the developed nations, the misbalance of power is what leads men to inflict various kinds of abuse upon the women. This being said, we must also consider the fact that the matter is never very simple.
The lower classes exhibit domestic violence on a regular basis. The men beat up their wives and daughters so regularly that the son grows up with the notion that such occurrences are actually necessary to “keep the women in check.” The reason why a lot of people assume that the lower classes have a higher rate of domestic violence occurrence is because these classes have fewer ways to hide the dirty household truths, and also, because of their lower status in society, they’re less worried about what others will think of them. They’re bothered with the most basic requirements, and they cannot follow social etiquettes in order to put up an elaborate farce of domestic bliss.
The middle classes and the upper classes too, have a high occurrence of domestic violence. In fact, amongst these classes, the practice of domestic violence can manifest itself in more subversive ways than physical torture. Mental and financial abuse and emotional blackmail are other methods which these classes employ, in order to indulge in domestic violence. The women of these classes, however, have a reputation to uphold, and being judged by society means much more to them. Which is why, women from these classes generally keep mum about their husbands and the torture which they inflict. On the other hand, the women from the middle and upper classes also have a major strength at their disposal. Due to their education, they are more aware of the laws which can support them, they are aware of the provisions, and they will be given more attention when they do decide to take action against domestic abuse.
Class plays a very convoluted role in domestic violence. The lower classes do it out of frustration, and they are also more open about it because they do not care. The middle class is always worried about the reputation of the family, and the social status, which prevents them from coming out with their dirty laundry, but they are also the ones who will be able to change the state of things, if they choose to do so. The upper classes too, want to keep up a farce of perfection. At the end of the day, though, we need to remember that domestic violence exists outside the confines of class divisions. It resides in the deeply embedded patriarchy which exists in the minds of not just men, but also women.