The National Commission for Women recently received a complaint that a young woman was being kept under house arrest. During enquiry, the commission found that the girl was locked inside a room in the house. There were no instances of any abuse or assault. Her parents had fixed her marriage but the woman was not ready to marry him. When she fiercely resisted their move, parents locked her up in a bid to change her mind.
The commission solved the issue after holding counselling sessions for both the parents and the woman.
The women's commission has been receiving several such cases lately. There has been a considerable increase in the number of women approaching the panel, for ensuring their right to lead a life of dignity.
The freedom to choose
Earlier women used to approach the commission as a last resort after suffering several instances of abuse/attack. Now, more and more women are seeking the freedom to lead the life of their choice.
Around 20 per cent of the 4,400 complaints that the commission received were of this nature. These complains, which do not fall under the purview of crime or attack, are being treated under a special category by the national woman's body. Even domestic abuse has been removed from this category.
It was a moment of reckoning for the women's commission too as they realised what women feared the most was the curtailment of their freedom than attacks/abuse.
On her own
As many as 990 women approached the commission, complaining that they were not being allowed to make own decisions.
Their parents and relatives were making decisions for them without even considering the fact that they were grown-up individuals. This cannot be allowed, they contented. The right to privacy was also being invaded, it was pointed out.
But when they resist, confrontations arise and the women approach the commission as a last resort.
Who is the guilty one?
There are no physical wounds but such incidents put women through great mental distress. Some are not even allowed to select their choice of course or subject of study.
In such cases, parents are the guilty ones.
Some are not allowed to pursue a professional career and in certain cases, they are not allowed to shift to another location to be near to their work places. The league of husbands joins the guilty lot along with the parents in these cases.
Right to dignity
About 6,500 of the 19,000 complaints that the commission received last year, lamented about the restrictions of leading a dignified life. Some of them even sought protection from assaults at their own houses. Then domestic abuse was removed from the category and only cases on right to a dignified life were considered under this.
Some complained to the commission about irritating neighbours and people who made rude remarks or approached with bad intentions.
There were even those who were showered with abuses during family feuds or endured bad experiences during property battles. However, none of these fall under the purview of sexual abuse.
The commission considers honour killing and requests to help marry the man of their choice as a special category in which 136 complaints have been registered so far.