For a long time now, we have paid attention and spoken about the subject of gender based violence and domestic violence. Although the focus has mainly been married couples, one also needs to look at young, unmarried couples in India and recognise what is happening beyond the legal framework.
The best way of understanding the situation is first-hand accounts of young people in relationships who are going through violence. To look deeper into the subject of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). While there is a lot of material on IPV, its focus was solely on married couples. Love Matters India decide to run a campaign specifically targeting young, unmarried couples in India.
The study conducted recognised that many unmarried couples stay in violent and abusive relationships because they feel that ‘violence is part of a relationship’, because they think ‘verbal abuse is not violence’ or because they are afraid of being alone, afraid of their partner or fear being judged. What we need to look at the agreed realities of this community and the emotions attached to these agreed realities.
It is crucial to raises awareness of IPV issues aiming it at the right target group and stimulating discussion on the subject, with the intention of contributing to a decline in cases of IPV in the long term.
A variety of issues, which need to be addressed and spoken about are related to sexual health or wellbeing, creating safe spaces to engage a community and provide information and awareness on specific issues.
There is an addition indicator on the increased discussion of the subject which was observed during the participation by people on blogs. Whenever a blog entry was published, more people sent blogs sharing similar stories of abuse and violence at great length. As the tone set, it was evident from the audience response that partner violence is a major problem that young people face and they are on the lookout for a chance and a safe space to talk about the issue. It is absolutely crucial to create a culture of expression and speaking up is one of the key factors of employing personal narratives as a tool of advocacy.
“Conversation and communication about non-physical coercion and control is essential in helping young people learn about healthy relationships. Intimate Partner Violence is real and is more than broken bones and bruises. The subtlest expressions of controlling behaviour are the most pernicious. Often it is easier to see physical and sexual abuses as part of IPV. The challenge, however, is getting our audience to understand that the more subtle expressions of controlling behaviour often masquerade as caring one,” says Vithika Yadav, Country Head of Love Matters India.
There is a need for a space of dialogue: a space that creates a culture of conversation around the issue of Intimate Partner Violence. The fact that 93% of women participating, indicated being a victim only underlines this fact. The only way to address distorted perceptions of how relationships are and how they ought to be is to continually address how partner violence is rationalised as a part of relationships. Therefore, the most significant change that needs to start with each of us is creating that dialogue and a safe space that people identify with and feel confident in confiding and expressing.
The CSR Journal Team