Domestic Violence, a curable curse
27 April, 2011
By Amjad Malik
I challenged the policy of domestic violence of home office in 2000 and sought declaration of incompatibility of that policy with Human Rights Law (article 3 &6) and drew court`s attention towards facts that women of Asian culture are reluctant to go to courts /police to seek justice against their husbands as the society dislikes it and consider it an honour issue. According to the Crown Prosecution Service of UK, nearly 1 million women experience domestic violence every year and 750,000 children witness it. Two women die every week as a result of it. Keir Starmer, a renowned Human Rights Lawyer and the director of public prosecutions issued a timely warning against complacency and said that Domestic violence was "serious and pernicious", "It ruins lives, breaks up families and has a lasting impact. It is criminal. And it has been with us for a very long time, yet it is only in the last 10 years that it has been taken seriously as a criminal justice issue."
There is a double punishment for the Asian female victims of violence who suffers silently in UK. Firstly, they are already victims, and Home Office (UKBA) puts a further burden on them to prove their misfortune through mandatory caution, Conviction and or injunction against their British spouses if they are immigrants to stay in the country. And in pursuing that struggle for evidence, non availability of a legal aid is icing on the cake, as mindset is already against them because going to police , social services and courts for help is considered a kind of crime bringing dishonour to the family, though goal posts are changing slowly. every week as a result of it. Legal aid has a vital role to play in creating an escape route for many battered women and children from bad relationships. Without legal aid, the woman could not have afforded to see a lawyer. "This would have placed my two young daughters at very real risk of future abuse."
"It has long been known that psychological abuse within a domestic context can cause at least as much long-term harm to the victim as physical abuse," said Lord Brown earlier this year. Home Secretary Theresa May is intending to change the domestic violence rule in the immigration rules. It enables people who are on a spouse or partner visa and experiencing domestic violence to be able to leave that relationship and apply for indefinite leave. According to the immigration minister Damian Green, 700 victims of domestic violence rely upon it every year. The Immigration Law Practitioners` Association indicates that the figure could be as high as 1,500. In a letter to the ILPA, Green says the UK Border Agency will continue to provide leave when needed to help protect women and girls "but settlement will not be automatic". "For the very small number of cases of minor unspent criminality which would lead to a refusal under these rules, we will take a case-by-case approach." It is alarming.
If one is a victim of domestic violence, one needs a legal advice on immediate safety, injunction, house, divorce, and children, and in some instances quick access to safeguard children’s immediate place of stay. Most of the victims if stranded seeks such advice from refuge, shelter or from police custody or through telephone. Others and majority do not come forward due to uncertain, lengthy and bureaucratic process which is painful. How will they get access to justice if they are stranded and revolt against their spouses without legal aid is a food for thought in a country which claims to be the mother of all democracies and human rights. Either women will suffer in silence without legal aid, or the message is going across that either revolt against the norms individually or ‘put up’ or ‘shut up’ which is unacceptable in a any modern day civilised society.
The second element is the effect of the Asian society in general, which is still caught in a rock and hard place either to move forward and embrace modernity coupled with respect, justice and human rights or stay in dark ages where women suffer silent, obey, cook clean and produce and look after its off spring. If any wishes to change the trend it is cursed or penalised in a deterrent fashion.
Here the Police, social Services, court turn a blind eye on bilateral family issues and domestic violence – that are swept under the carpet for unknown reasons. They have a key role to create awareness, pick up issues at the earliest and strengthen teen agers to grapple the situation without breaking families or waiting for the last straw. Pre emptive knowledge and assistance by Social Services, Police and Society may save lives to be ruined, than post operative actions which only save the victim and punish the culprit wiping out all family values and institution where damage is done. There is very little support to Asian female victims of domestic violence who without breaking barriers gets a confidence boost. Police try to send the girl to the same house where she is trying to run away from due to fear of unknown or lack of funds. Immigrants who cannot claim benefits are turned away even from shelters because of funding issues thus genuine grouses of domestic violence ends up in complicated reconciliation.
There is a stigma attached to the core issues of divorce, separation and the entire issue of medical conditions like depression, anxiety and post natal problems which are nonexistent in some families and or classes still. Even if they do exist, it does so in the higher middle class or upper class. There is a tendency of dealing with women issues very lethargically – thus showing a disinterested approach. The whole approach needs to be changed in the wake of human rights development in the society and that services should be provided to all of them equally and that Law enforcing agencies should try to reduce tensions that exist between society at large and attitude towards women. Human rights groups are working but they need more funds and support to create awareness about female rights and access issues due to language barriers, segregation and younger members either reluctant or unable to seek proper in time advice to make an informed decision whether it’s their choice of academic route, matrimony, separation, divorce, place of stay post marriage, job or accessing services if they are at earliest stages of being a victim of ‘domestic violence’.
I believe the main cause of such violence is due to strict visa requirements as it puts the sponsor in a driving seat and he and his whole family gets an opportunity to mutilate the rights of an individual in a horror movie style. In another words that person from abroad becomes a slave of circumstances - especially girls - who have no voice in the matter. But there must be an advice mechanism available without prejudice and taboo to Asian females in their teens and fiancée`s or spouses emanating from Britain or coming from abroad to make them aware of their rights so to check their sufferings in silence. Domestic Violence is a curable curse and let there be no more violence on women as they are the one who take us that far.