Unveiling the Silent Agony: Exploring the Depths of Economic Abuse in Domestic Violence Domestic violence is commonly associated with physical and sexual abuse, overshadowing a more insidious form of harm known as economic abuse. This type of abuse, often invisible in its operation, restricts victims’ access to financial resources and obstructs their economic independence. While the public consciousness predominantly focuses on physical and sexual violence, economic abuse remains largely overlooked. This article aims to shed light on the significance of economic abuse, its prevalence in India, contributing factors, available safeguards, and measures to reduce such abuse.
Understanding Economic Abuse : Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDV Act) in India, economic abuse encompasses various actions such as denying access to financial resources, preventing employment or education, controlling money and assets, exploiting earnings, and depriving women of their rightful property and inheritance. Economic abuse is deeply intertwined with patriarchal attitudes, limited economic opportunities for women, lack of awareness, and societal stigmas. This form of abuse severely hampers women’s independence, decision-making abilities, and often prevents them from leaving abusive relationships.
Prevalence and Impact : Studies indicate a high prevalence of economic abuse among women in India, with alarming consequences for their well-being. For example, a survey in Mumbai’s informal settlements revealed that 23% of ever-married women reported experiencing economic abuse, which was independently associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Additionally, a study conducted by the All-India Democratic Women’s Association found that 72% of women had encountered economic abuse in their lifetimes. The impact of economic abuse extends beyond financial constraints, impeding women’s overall empowerment and hindering their ability to break free from abusive situations.
Existing Safeguards Several legal provisions and institutions in India aim to address economic abuse. The PWDV Act offers monetary relief, compensation, and protection orders for aggrieved women. Other measures include the Code of Criminal Procedure, which enables courts to order maintenance for neglected wives and children, and the Hindu Succession Act, which grants equal inheritance rights to daughters. Institutions such as the National Commission for Women and the Ministry of Women and Child Development provide support services, helplines, and victim compensation schemes. However, the enforcement and effectiveness of these safeguards require further strengthening.
Reducing Economic Abuse: To combat economic abuse effectively, a multi-faceted approach is necessary. Increasing public awareness about this form of domestic violence through educational campaigns, community programs, and media initiatives is crucial. Empowering victims through vocational training, educational opportunities, and job placement programs can help them regain financial independence. Collaborating with NGOs specializing in addressing domestic violence, such as the Naari Foundation and Shakti Vahini Foundation, can yield significant support for survivors.
Legal protections should be strengthened through stricter punitive measures for perpetrators, deterring potential abusers. Financial institutions play a pivotal role by offering training to their employees to identify signs of economic abuse, establishing protocols for reporting suspicious transactions, and providing financial literacy resources to customers.
Investing in research and data collection is essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of the prevalence and consequences of economic abuse, enabling evidence-based policies and interventions. Promoting gender equality, challenging harmful social norms, and empowering women through education and awareness campaigns can contribute to long-term prevention efforts.
While physical and sexual violence often dominate discussions on domestic violence, economic abuse remains a hidden and insidious form of harm. Recognizing the prevalence and impact of economic abuse is crucial in addressing the systemic barriers faced by women. By raising awareness, strengthening legal protections, providing support services, empowering victims, collaborating with financial institutions, conducting research, and promoting gender equality, society can strive towards reducing economic abuse and creating an environment where all individuals can live free from violence and oppression.