While there can be no agreed definition of domestic violence (DV), the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), outlines it as: “Violence is defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault experienced by a person since the age of 15. Physical violence includes physical assault and/or physical threat. Sexual violence includes sexual assault and/or sexual threat. The Family Law Act 1975 now recognises a broad range of behaviours, including ‘violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful.’” (Section 4AB)
CAUSE FOR CONCERN:
According to ABS data, around one in six women (16% or 1.5 million) have experienced physical violence through partners, compared with one in seventeen men (5.9% or 528,800). The following basic statistics help demonstrate the prevalence and severity of violence against women:
- On an average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia
- One in three Australian women, has experienced physical violence since the age of 15
- One in five Australian women, has experienced sexual violence
- One in four Australian women, has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner
- One in four Australian women, has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner
- Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care
Domestic Violence In The Indian Community
Unlike the wider Australian community, DV incidents of violence in the Indian community are not reported to an extent, which might reflect reality. In fact, under reporting is the major concern for the NSW Police Force investigating DV-related incidents among people from the Indian sub-continent. Some of the main reasons behind this seem to be social stigma, enhanced by lack of awareness on DV-related laws and cultural/language barriers.
Looking back, when we organised a seminar on “Domestic Violence and the Indian community” in 2009, the reaction from the community was shocking with only nine people turning up, including the organiser! However, in 2018, the increasing DV menace within the community is being better acknowledged. It is commendable how over the last couple of years, many of the Indian community groups, including the United Indian Associations, Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, The Indian (sub-continental) Crisis Support Agency (ICSA), and the Toongabbie Legal Centre, have engaged actively in delivering advocacy and focussed programs to assist victims of domestic violence.
In fact, the Indian Support Centre in Sydney, which was established three years ago to assist new arrivals and disadvantaged members of the community, recently launched DV awareness campaign “Break the silence, End the violence” at Australis Institute of Tech & Edu.
The nearly four-hour awareness program attended by around 50 community members, and volunteers, also included guest speakers Dr Chandrika Subramaniyan from Success Lawyers, Kathleen McMahon, Manager, DV Line, Family and Community Services, (FACS) NSW Government, Kim Duross, Assistant Manager, Mala Sharma, Psychologist and NSW Police Force DV liaison officers.
Speaking on the occasion, former Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce said: “We don’t want to confront these things, we want to turn away and say, ‘that’s not my business’, but it certainly is everybody’s business.”
Warning signs of DV abuse
- Do you often call your partner names and constantly criticise them?
- Have you ever tried to stop your partner doing something that they wanted to do? (going out with friends, having a job, doing some study)?
- Do you take control of the finances, so your partner is not allowed to have money for their own personal use?
- Have you ever threatened to hit or throw something at your partner?
- Have you ever unfairly accused your partner of paying too much attention to someone else?
- Have you ever slapped, hit, pushed or shoved your partner?
- Have you ever pressured your partner to have sex when they didn’t want to?