Institute for Social and Economic Change
Working Paper: 536
Domestic Violence against Women – A Case Study
and the Role of Civil Societies from the
Sundarbans Region of West Bengal
C M Lakshmana
The main purpose of the present study is to understand the issues of Domestic Violence against Women and the role of civil societies to address the issues of domestic violence in Sundarbans region. This study has utilised four case studies (from 155 respondents), collected from a primary survey conducted in two blocks (Jaynagar II and Kultali) of South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal and the role of existing civil organisations and NGOs to address the issue of domestic violence against women. However, it is found that a socially-accepted norms in Indian patriarchal society such as the practice of dowry, preference of the male child, the practice of early age marriage and lack of understanding between spouses are the major causes of domestic violence in the study area. Added to the issue, it is also revealed that the dependency of women on husbands is also a cause of physical, emotional and sexual violence. Those who have separated from their husbands face major economic difficulties in taking care of their children. Due to this reason, women migrate to Kolkata and surrounding urban areas for work. The findings also revealed that most women are not aware of their rights. Added to the issue, existing civil society organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) namely, Sundarban Janasramajibi Mancha, Samadhan, and Missing Link Trust are creating awareness and counselling to victims who had come forward and sought support and help. They have taken the initiative to educate and empower the most vulnerable children, women and girls in the Sundarbans through skill training such as tailoring, computer training and spoken English classes. Skill training, to some extent, worked as a remedy to prevent domestic violence against women. But still, domestic violence is rampant in West Bengal as well as in Sundarbans region of South 24 Parganas district. Hence, there is an urgent need to strengthen the PWDV Act - 2005 by appointing more Protection Officers at the village/block level where they should play a more active role by involving Police, Panchayat members, civil society and NGOs to provide counselling and justice on time to the victims of domestic violence. Further, they should create more awareness in preventing and reducing domestic violence at the village level.