I was called a whore: AP, Telangana domestic abuse survivors allege police insensitivity

Domestic violence
Survivors allege that approaching the police and filing a complaint is often a traumatic experience.
“It was an inter-caste marriage. We started facing problems soon after a year. Problems I couldn’t share with anyone. My husband was a sex addict. He would watch pornographic videos, and would want me to enact them. I still put up with his torment for seven years,” says an upset Sudha*, even as she looks around to see if anyone was listening to her story.
28-year-old Sudha was one among the many women who spoke to the media at the Press Club in Hyderabad’s Somajiguda area on Friday, to share their stories on abusive husbands, in-laws and also harassment by the police.
22 domestic abuse survivors echoed the same sentiment, alleging that police personnel often humiliate and slut shame them.
A native of Nagarkurnool district, Sudha got married to Ramulu*, a teacher.  
Besides her husband being a sex addict, Sudha says that her in-laws were not supportive of her and demanded dowry, which she couldn’t pay.
Narrating the ordeal, she says, “They didn’t like the marriage as it was against their will. I couldn’t share the sexual abuse that I had to go through at the hands of my husband. No girl can share these issues. Parents are the last people a girl can go and talk to about this. Ramulu would beat me with a belt almost every day in order to fulfil his sexual desires. He also had an affair with another woman. Unable to bear his torments and my mother-in-law’s harassment for dowry, I approached the police to file a case against him.”
However, Sudha’s troubles didn’t end there. She was humiliated at the police station as well, Sudha alleges.
‘Insensitive policemen’
“I was called a ‘whore’ and my morality was judged by the Circle Inspector, who didn’t even know who I was. I never expected this from a police officer. Later, when I met women who had also approached the police, they too shared similar experiences,” alleges Sudha.
Keerthy who hails from Gudiwada, married a CISF constable, who was deputed in Jharkhand in 2012. It was a love marriage. However, her husband deserted her last year and is planning to marry another woman, she says.  
Like Sudha, Keerthy alleges that when she approached the police, they passed nasty comments on her character, instead of taking her complaint.
“Going to the police station and filing a case is a traumatizing experience. You have to explain the abuse to everyone in the station, only to be ignored,” she laments.
“Instead of registering a complaint, they (police) would joke about it. They told me, ‘You’re young too. If he (husband) leaves you, you also marry someone’,” Keerthy says.
In another case, Geetha’s complaint was called a fake case, when she approached the police. The police dismissed her complaint of harassment by her husband and in-laws without inquiring into the incident, she alleges.
Geetha, a native of Vizag, notes, “The power vested with the police denied justice to me. They have the authority to determine which is a fake case and which is not. Since my husband had enough influence, they dismissed my complaint.”
What the law says
Gopala Krishna Kalanidhi, a Hyderabad-based lawyer says that police harassment can be stopped if the recent Supreme Court directives are followed with regard to IPC section 498 A (husband or relative subjecting woman to cruelty) are followed. To prevent the misuse of the section 498A, the apex court issued guidelines such as setting up family welfare committees in every district by the District Legal Services Authority. The court directed, “Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee.”
Kalanidhi points out, “This would deter the police harassment to an extent. Since the committee will determine which is a false complaint, police will have no role to play.”
However, not all states have set up family welfare committees.
*Names changed
 
 
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