‘Domestic violence is an underreported issue in Ladakh’
LEH: In Ladakh Union Territory, among other crimes, domestic violence is a serious issue affecting both men and women. However, statistics on domestic violence in Ladakh are not readily available as it is often underreported due to social stigma and a lack of awareness.
Taking the preventive measures and initiatives to diminish the aforementioned cases, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) in twin districts have taken several steps to address the issue of domestic violence in the region.
In 2017, the LAHDC launched a campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and to encourage victims to come forward and report it. The campaign included street plays, public meetings, and awareness drives.
The LAHDC has established a Women’s Cell and a Child Welfare Committee to address cases of domestic violence, said a resident from Kargil and added that these bodies are responsible for providing support to victims, conducting investigations, and initiating legal action against perpetrators.
In Ladakh, the protection of women from domestic violence is governed by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The act defines domestic violence broadly to include physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and economic abuse. It also provides for the appointment of Protection Officers who are responsible for providing support and assistance to victims of domestic violence.
Ladakh UT is also governed by the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes domestic violence. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code makes it a criminal offense to subject a woman to cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relatives.
According to a Ladakh Police crime report of 2021, among a total 558 (370 in Leh and 188 in Kargil) cases reported under IPC and LSL; zero is the number of domestic violence cases.
Similarly, according to LP crime report of 2020, no case of domestic violence was reported. However, some eve teasing, rape and molestation cases were reported in both aforementioned years, as per UT Police.
Since underreported due to social stigma and a lack of awareness, the resident said that there is need for awareness in the society. While the laws and rules in Ladakh provide some protection to victims of domestic violence, there is still a need for greater awareness and sensitization among the general public.
“More efforts need to be made to encourage victims to report domestic violence and to provide support and assistance to them. There is a need to strengthen the implementation of existing laws and rules to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice, so that victims would be encouraged to report,” he said, adding, “The issue is underreported in Ladakh.”