Dealing with Domestic Violence and Moving Forward
Author Sanya Khan discusses her new book No More Violence: All You Need to do is Speak Up.
Byline: Mareaya Fayaz
Young author Sanya Khan’s book No More Violence: All You Need to do is Speak Up was launched recently at the Doda Community Hall in the presence of DC Doda Vishesh Mahajan, Principal Secretary PDD Rajesh Prasad, and DSWO Tariq Qazi. Khan works as a gender specialist at the District Doda Hub for empowerment of women under the Mission Shakti Scheme. She is also a renowned social activist, who has raised a number of issues pertaining to women rights. Her main area of activism is child and women’s rights, women’s menstrual health and hygiene, domestic violence, and women empowerment. She actively contributes as a volunteer with Priyal Bharadwaj, founder of Sangini Saheli Organisation, which deals with women’s welfare.
While talking to Kashmir Central about her book, Khan shed some light on what the book is about.
What does your book deal with exactly?
This book is about domestic violence against women which is a major issue in our society. However, determining how deep-seated the issue is in our society is difficult. The number of cases could be far higher than recorded because many cases of domestic violence against women are not reported. A woman frequently believes that the abuse she experiences is her fault and that she has made a mistake. This is incorrect. The responsibility for the abuse is with the abuser, not the victim.
Estimates of violence in our country are higher than officially recorded. Women often do not report family violence for a variety of reasons. One is that they don’t know how to deal with domestic abuse or whom to approach; what the laws are and what schemes are available for their empowerment.
This book, which is based on research carried out in Doda, sheds light on the types, signs and causes of domestic violence as well as its effect on women’s mental health. It also brings to the forefront the violence committed by parents against their daughters. It also talks about the various women-focused schemes run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development that can help women cope with domestic violence and become more independent, especially financially. Living a stress-free and calm existence is crucial for women’s health and overall well-being, which affects their families, the community as a whole and ultimately the country. When women live safe, fulfilled, and productive lives, they attain their full potential by contributing to the workforce and raising happy and healthy children.
Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence, irrespective of gender, caste or class. Abuse can occur in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. It affects people of diverse ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic situations. While married women are more likely to be victims, unmarried women are also not spared, particularly verbal and emotional abuse. The basic truth is that abusive behaviour, whether from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult, is never acceptable. You deserve to feel cherished, respected, and safe.
The book comprises 13 chapters, starting with an introduction to the issue of domestic violence in the first chapter. Chapter 2 discusses the various forms of violence, Chapter 3 examines the warning signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship, Chapter 4 discusses the causes of violence, Chapter 5 examines how society perpetuates violence, Chapter 6 examines the cycle of violence, and Chapter 7 analyses India’s statistics on domestic violence. Chapter 8 examines the effects of various forms of violence on women’s mental health in Doda (J&K), a study that is based on research. In Chapter 9, which is also based on research, the causes of parental violence against girls in J&K are discussed. Chapter 10 suggests how to handle threats from an ex-lover or other men, Chapter 11 discusses how to report violence, Chapter 12 gives a list of women’s empowerment schemes in India, and Chapter 13 is devoted to suggestions for the government on steps to take to reduce the likelihood of violence.
I have also talked about nutritional insufficiency in this book. When it comes to food, men and women in the same household are treated very differently. Women always eat last and often less than men, which leads to malnutrition and other health issues. The much-needed nutrition revolution can only occur if women’s nutrition is prioritised in every household. Women face domestic violence during food consumption and distribution. There is no specific term for this type of violence, but we can call it nutrition violence and is seen as prevalent in Doda in the current study. They never eat meals with other members for a number of reasons, including family customs and restricted access to food. They prefer to serve food to the family first, and then eat if there is anything left for them.
What inspired you to write this book?
Working in the field of women empowerment, I have dealt with various cases of violence. I even experienced violence myself during my university days but I was too immature to deal with it properly. After working in this field, I have realised that though so much work has been done on violence against women in J&K, nothing has been done focussing on women victims in Doda district. Therefore, it was deemed necessary to study how various forms of violence affect women’s mental health in Doda and what are the causes of parental violence against daughters. My book focuses on these two topics.
What has been the response to your book?
Well, I wrote it a few months ago, and let me tell you, I finished it with great difficulty because I am solely responsible for my family, and I rarely have time for my studies, but I managed somehow by working all night on my laptop.
After the book was launched, everyone encouraged me and suggested that I translate it into Hindi and Urdu so that more readers can get access to it. Everyone, including college girls, praised me. I did not write this book for money but to help women. Anyone who wants a copy can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will definitely send you one.
Any message for the readers, the youth?
All I want to say to whoever is facing violence either from in-laws, family or any other person is please, don’t suffer in silence. Please speak up no matter what. Don’t punish yourself fearing a scandal. Instead, share your problem with someone. You can seek legal assistance because the laws in India are so strongly in favour of women now. There are strong laws against domestic violence in India. I’m not advocating that you go against your parents and family and file a police report or go to court, but you should at least ask for assistance. If you’re not ready to file a complaint or seek legal assistance, at least speak with a family member or friend to get some assistance.
I believe that the only way to get your life back is to heal your emotional wounds. Building a successful life without your abuser is the best form of revenge.