Christine Mason Miller has rightly said and I quote- “At any given moment, you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” The said quote is a shoutout to all the women who have at one point or another bore the brunt of domestic violence either from their spouse, their father, brother or for that matter even their son. All those who are still undergoing some form of violence need to understand that the enemy does not stand a chance when the victim decides to survive, and it is this will to survive that imparts undefeatable strength to the victim. If you are still not clear on what exactly domestic violence is, you need to ask yourself if-
Your loved one-
? Threatens to harm you or others you care for?
? Uses physical force against you by hitting, kicking, punching, shoving, choking, or otherwise?
? Criticizes or blames you for every mishap?
? Makes you feel ashamed in front of others?
? Has access to money and also controls your financial decisions.
? Controls all the decision making in your relationship.
? Controls your time and your activities.
? Puts you down, calls you names, and makes you feel as if you are going insane?
? Destroys your property or inflicts/threatens to inflict harm on your loved ones.
? Threatens to harm or kill you if you leave.
? Forces you into having sexual activities that you don’t want to.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a violence committed by someone in the victim’s domestic circle. This includes partners and ex-partners, immediate family members, other relatives and family friends.
An aggrieved person Under The Protection of women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is “any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to domestic violence by the respondent.” The DV Act as it is popularly known as is a step in the right direction towards women emancipation and besides protecting women in their husband-wife partnerships, this legislation also protects women who live in the same house as persons they are in a domestic relationship with. A woman is shielded from abuse in all kinds of relationships, including those formed through marriage (such as husband-wife relationships or those formed by blood, such as those between father and daughter or sister-brother relationships), those formed through adoption (such as those formed between adopted daughter and father), and even those formed through relationships in nature of marriage (ex: live-in relationships, void marriages).
The Parliament of India adopted the Protection of Women from Domestic Abuse Act 2005 to protect women from domestic violence and since its primary purpose is to implement protection orders instead of punishment, it is classified as a civil law.
Hiding incidents of domestic violence due to fear, embarrassment or any other reason is one of the primary causes of this growing menace. The women need to understand that when it comes to abuse, even if you believe that there is no way out, help is always available and there us always a way out. The more we choose not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose. So the first step is always to talk about it and to report it.
Filing a complaint of Domestic Violence
A victim of domestic violence who wishes to file a complaint may do so in the following ways:
? Contact the police station, or
? Contact a Protection Officer or a Service Provider, or
? Approach the Magistrate Directly
Section 5 of the Act outlines the responsibilities of police officers, protection officers, service providers, and magistrates. It says that upon receiving a complaint, they must notify the individual who has been harmed-
1. of her right to apply for a relief under this Act by way of a protection order, a monetary relief order, a custody order, a residence order, a compensation order or more than one such order;
2. service providers’ ability to make their services available;
3. the availability of Protection Officers’ services;
4. Under the Legal Assistance Authority Act, 1987, she is entitled to free legal services.
5. Her entitlement to submit a complaint under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 498-A, when appropriate.
In order to seek one or more remedies under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, either the aggrieved party or the local Protection Officer must submit an application to the Magistrate. To comply with the Act, an application must include all of the relevant information.
The date of the hearing will be set by the Magistrate and cannot exceed three days after the application has been received. As a result, the Magistrate has a sixty-day deadline from the date of the first hearing to rule on any applications filed under Section 12 of the Act. Additional remedies and reliefs are authorised by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
In Santosh Bakshi v. State of Punjab, (2014) 13 SCC 25, the Supreme Court emphasized that the Police must take a complaint made under the DV Act seriously and cannot submit a report stating that no case has been made out without proper verification, investigation, and inquiry from family members as well as neighbors, friends, and others.
Rights of Aggrieved person:
An aggrieved woman has been given various benefits as per law:
1.? Residence Order
This order prohibits the respondent or any of his relatives and others accused for committing domestic violence from entering the shared household, and it also prohibits the respondent from relinquishing any of his rights in the shared house. Upon the grant of the relevant order, the aggrieved woman shall have the right to reside in the shared home regardless of her ownership stake in it.
To provide some measure of redress, the law acknowledges a person’s right to live in a shelter home in addition to his or her right to remain in the shared household. This refuge might also be requested by a Protection Officer or a service provider on behalf of the aggrieved person. Each State or Union Territory’s Ministry of Women and Child Development is obligated to recognize and notify of refuge homes available to those who have been harmed.
2. Medical Assistance
Free medical care must be provided even if the victim of domestic violence asks it without the consent of either the Protection Officer or the service provider, as mandated by law. It is the responsibility of the medical facility to fulfil its commitments, regardless of whether or not the Protection Officer and service provider do the same.
3. Orders of Relief
Monetary Relief: A Magistrate may order the respondent to pay compensation for the harm done to the applicant’s or applicant’s children as a result of the domestic violence. This compensation may cover the victim’s lost wages, medical expenses, property damage or destruction, and the aggrieved applicant’s and her children’s upkeep. The Magistrate has the authority to issue the aggrieved individual a lump sum payment or monthly payments of maintenance as needed by the victim.
The Act also further states that the respondent will be accountable for any damages or injuries, including mental torment and emotional distress and that the Magistrate shall take the same into account while considering monetary relief.
4. Custody Orders
After receiving an application from a domestic violence victim, the Magistrate has the power to order that the custody of any child or children be given to the person requesting custody on behalf of the victim or the victim herself.
5. Protection Orders
An aggrieved person may be granted a protection order by a Magistrate if they believe that domestic violence has occurred and that the respondent is committing or abetting acts of domestic violence. As a last resort, the Magistrate may also prevent the respondent from making contact with the victim, entering the victim’s workplace, or inflicting harm on the victim’s dependents or family members.
When it comes to ensuring that women’s rights are safeguarded and respected in their own homes, the Act is an essential part of the Indian legal system and has gone a long way in filling the void that existed prior to 2005. Legislation on domestic abuse in India is comprehensive, laying out the powers and duties of the various authorities, as well as clearly outlining the process ofregistering a complaint, obtaining aid for victims, and stating the powers and scope of the Indian judiciary. The Act is also a solid means to providing the much-needed protection to the Indian Women and to ensure that adequate maintenance is provided to her. It is now time for the women to realise that the law is with them in their battle to seek redressal and that they have to move forward in this journey and support each other. For-
“Each time a woman stands up for herself
Without knowing it…..
Without claiming it…..
She stands up for all women!”