In India a crime is committed against women every 3 minutes and 37% of married women experience domestic violence during marriage (National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2005). Domestic violence undermines gender justice and domestic peace, with wider ramifications for the wellbeing and sustainability of families, communities, and society.
Despite legal initiatives on domestic violence within Indian law, civil society organisations report little progress in reducing the gap between legal and policy provisions, and access to support, services, and justice for survivors of domestic violence. Consequently, women are turning to informal, non-legal strategies and networks to cope, build resilience and seek justice. These practices have been heightened during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, little research has systematically documented the informal, often less visible ways that women cope and survive, often in the absence of effective state support.
Our research draws on civil society-academic partnerships and uses feminist-legal method to understand women’s experiences of violence and access to the law in situ and to examine the informal and non-legal strategies that women implement to survive in contexts of violence. The project is based in 3 states; Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu and examines women’s experiences across rural and urban locations. By centring the experiences and narratives of domestic violence victim-survivors, our research will examine:
1. how victims of DV navigate/manage the day-to-day realities of abuse in the absence of access to services and legal provision, and during a period of crisis;
2. how DV victims access support and legal services, to what extent, in what ways and what kinds of services and;
3. the possible structural, institutional and cultural factors that impede or enable access to services and legal provision, and inform the environments within which DV endures
Working with civil society, government and policy making communities our research findings will inform future policy recommendations to address the gap between the law and its everyday practice.