A recent UN study has confirmed what feminists already knew - that the home, far from being a haven of ‘safety’ from an unsafe world, is in reality the most unsafe and dangerous place for women.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its new study which found that 58% of the 87,000 women killed in 2017, were killed by intimate partners or family members. 34% of the victims were killed by intimate partners (husbands or boyfriends) alone.
In other words, in 2017, 6 women being killed every hour by people they know.
To put this in perspective, the study found that 80% of all murder victims the world over were men - but men were far less likely to be murdered in the home by an intimate partner or family member. But women who were killed, were far more likely to be killed by an intimate partner or a relative. That’s because the institutions of family and household are patriarchal institutions - and patriarchy is dangerous for women. As the UNODC observed, “The fact that women continue to be affected by this type of violence to a greater degree than men is indicative of an imbalance in power relations between women and men inside the domestic sphere.”
The report observed about India: “Available data on dowry-related killings from the National Crime Records Bureau indicate that female dowry deaths account for 40 to 50 per cent of all female homicides recorded annually in India, representing a stable trend over the period 1999 to 2016.”
What are the takeaways from this report for us in India?
- The rallying cry of the December 2012 anti-rape movement, demanding ‘aazaadi’ (freedom) from fathers and brothers and patriarchal family structures, was a cry for sheer survival. Violence against women’s autonomy (violence against inter-caste, inter-faith, and same-sex love) and domestic violence by the husband or in-laws makes the home most unsafe for women.
- Locking women up at home does not make them ‘safe' - contrary to what patriarchal policy makers claim. Fighting for women’s autonomy inside and outside the home will make them safer.
- Media and public outrage tends to focus on “stranger danger” - violent attacks on women by strangers on streets. But “stranger danger” is far more rare and far less likely than the violence inflicted on women by their own family members and intimate partners.
- Not long ago, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar cited the fact that most complaints of rape are against known persons, to label all these complaints “false complaints.” The UN study establishes that in fact, most perpetrators of violence against women tend to be known persons. So rape accusations by women against known persons do not amount to “false” complaints.
- If 40-50% of women victims of murder tend to be victims of dowry murders, then why the push by Governments and even some Court verdicts to dilute the dowry violence law claiming that it’s ‘misused’? Clearly dowry murders are not a thing of the past - yet our media and public discourse barely ever discusses these any more!