NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK
RESEARCH BY – PREM CHOUDHURY PUBLISHED BY UNWOMEN – SOUTH ASIA
The power structure within the household operating through specific gender hierarchies uses violence as the most potent tool of control and domination. Gender inequality derives its legitimacy and acceptance through the ideological and cultural matrix systems of rural Haryana. The wide scale prevalence of violence in rural households shows how gendered systems interact with other socio-cultural structures, not only to reinforce but to further tighten the existing gender inequalities. In this respect the influence of marital violence has been most pronounced.
The present study seeks to determine the effect of property ownership and economic independence of women on the reduction of violence, especially spousal violence, in relation to rural Haryana. It seeks to analyze how and why women my acquire ownership or/and control over land/property/assets or avail of employment opportunities in a deep-rooted patriarchal cultural milieu of northern India which, in practice, is given to negate such acquisitions. In other words, do social and cultural norms sanctioning violence change when women acquire control over land/ property/ assets? It will be a challenge to evaluate the given proposition in the context of a strong patrilineal and patriarchal society like that of Haryana—a state where custom and cultural patterns deny any property rights to women; a state which makes a mockery of the legal enablement by not allowing women to exercise property rights; a state notorious for its mindless violence as seen in the so called ‘crimes of honour’ and finally a state well known to wipe out all future property related claims of girls by eliminating them in the womb itself. In other words – a state at its violent best.
In such a violent scenario can the dual contention of property ownership and economic independence of women become effective at all, for it to effect a reduction in violence against them? If yes, how and why has that been possible? In what circumstances could have the breaches in social norms occurred? What struggles did the woman in question had to under go in order to attain this status? It needs to be investigated whether such an acquisition has lessened/eliminated violence over them in any way or changed its nature. If not, why not, if yes, then in what way? How, in the opinion of the women themselves and their life experience, the control or ownership of resources or their income generating and earning capacity has reduced or diminished violence upon them? These are some of the aspects raised and analyzed in this study.