Inter-relation between violence, homelessness and women’s mental health

Inter-relation between violence, homelessness and women’s mental health

News: In this editorial we discuss about how violence and mental health conditions among women have a cause-and-effect relationship, and both factors significantly heighten the risk of homelessness.

What is the status of violence among women in India?
 As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), almost 30% of women between the ages of 18-49 years have experienced physical violence beginning at age 15; around 6% have reported sexual violence.
 The National Commission for Women reported 28,811 complaints related to domestic violence in 2023. While this number declined from the pandemic years, it remains a critical issue.

What is the main reason behind triggering homelessness of women?
Socio-economic factors
Gender Pay Gaps: Ongoing gender pay disparities leave women at a higher risk of financial struggles compared to men.
Housing Instability: Marital and relationship breakdowns can lead to housing instability, affecting women both in their youth and later life.
Disproportionate experiences
 Many women with mental health conditions leave their house because they want to escape unending violence whether it was from a predatory father or a husband who controlled all aspects of life etc.
 There are women who had access to mental health care but still they left their home due to violence.

Which factors contribute to mental health problems of women?
 There are higher prevalence rates of depression, anxiety or eating disorders among women.
 They also suffer from mental health issues due to postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a medical condition that many women get after having a baby.

Way Forward
 There is growing need to recognize and compensate women for their unpaid labour in household chores.
 There should be dedicated space for women to find supportive networks and alternate family structures outside of typical heteronormative relationships.
 Provide ownership rights to women – Housing, land etc. 
 In order to understand the impact of violence on women’s mental health, there is a need to involve diverse professionals, innovative research, and meaningful involvement of those with lived experiences. 

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