Domestic Violence and 'We Can'
Sixty per cent women in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, 37 per cent in India, 80 per cent in Pakistan, and 50 per cent in Afghanistan live with daily abuse at the hands of their intimate partners within their own homes.
The incidence of domestic violence in South Asia is the highest in the world and a major cause of deaths among young women who marry early, says the World Development Report 2007.
For women in the region, violence within homes is a ‘normal’ pattern of life: they hide, adapt, sometimes justify, and mostly live with it.
It entails risk of death, extreme physical and emotional suffering, severe and long lasting health problems (violence against women has been linked to the HIV pandemic) and huge economic costs and inefficiencies.
Domestic violence is viewed as intractable as it is situated in the ‘private’ sphere, remains a largely hidden and silent crisis, and is intertwined within inter-dependent relationships between members of the same household.
The question of power and control is central to domestic violence.
Eighty eight million children in South Asia witness domestic violence within their homes (UNICEF study 2006).
Despite being a critical problem, domestic violence as an issue remains under-examined and under-reported.
‘We Can’ makes this ‘private’ issue a ‘public’ concern. Transforming the unequal power in gender relations within homes is at the heart of the ‘We Can’ endeavour.
The reason is simple: when homes ‘normalise’ violence, it becomes ‘normal’ on streets and in the society.
And, women will never be equal in their public lives until they are equal in their homes.