DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: KNOW YOUR LAW
Post by DR. SWATI JINDAL GARG on Sunday, November 20, 2022
Every year, millions of women worldwide are victims of domestic violence and even though it can be one of the most difficult types of situations to talk about, yet, sadly, it cannot be ignored that it can happen to almost anyone- women, men, children, spouses and even friends, however, domestic violence against women occurs more frequently than any other crime on daily basis.
More women are emotionally, psychologically, physically abused than reported cases of car theft, mugging, stealing something from a grocery store, vandalizing property etc.
Domestic violence was first recognized as a punishable offence in India in 2005 with the passing of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA). A significant focus of domestic violence against women in India has been on dowry-related harassment.
The major official source of surveillance for the offence of domestic violence in India are the reports compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) . Though under-reporting in NCRB reports is well documented for certain types of injuries, it remains the most comprehensive longitudinal source of domestic violence available at the state-level for India.
In India between 2001 and 2018, the majority of domestic violence cases were filed under ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’, with the reported rate of this crime increasing by 53% over the 18 years. The NCRB data provides passive surveillance with the source being the FIR filed by family/kin/community member with the police for a crime, and hence is dependent on the reporting from the community, which is known to be selective as women report less to the police for domestic violence due to various reasons including lack of social support, shame, and stigma. These differences could account for differential rates of domestic violence between the police records and self-reporting of domestic violence in the surveys. Recently, it is also shown that how women are asked about domestic violence in surveys can also result in different estimates
The fact that abuse of any form can have severe short and long termeffect cannot be underestimated. An abused person not only looses all sense of self worth, but also becomes suicidal if not supported at the right time. There are many social media handles which are easily available on almost every renowned social media platforms other than helpline numbers which are providing information for the purpose of support to a victim of domestic violence.
Reasons of domestic violence
Any violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner is called domestic violence. Domestic violence has also been defined under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence, Act 2005.
The definition of violence has evolved over the years to an extent it not only includes physical forms of violence but also emotional, mental, financial, and other forms of cruelty. Thus, the term domestic violence includes acts which harm or endangers the health, safety, life, limb, or wellbeing (mental or physical) of the victim, or tends to do so, and includes causing: physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and economic abuse, perpetrated by any person who is or was in a domestic relationship with the victim.
There is no straight jacket formula to know all the possible reasons of Domestic Violence. It has been happening in our country as well as in the rest of the world since times immemorial. The exact causes for the violence may differ with the changing times, but the nature of the crime itself does not change.
There is combination of various sociological/ behavioral, historical, religious and cultural factors that lead to perpetration of Domestic Violence in India.
▪ HISTORICAL FACTORS- the extent of patriarchy and male superiority thathas prevailed in the country for centuries.
▪ RELIGIOUS FACTORS- Women in India havebeen subjugated in the scrpitures,cultural activities irrespective of anyreligion.
▪ PATRIARCHY- it encourages male leadership, male dominance, male superiority and male power. Many a times it reinforces structural violence against women by projecting discriminating gender roles that oftenplace limitations on how far they can go.
▪ DOWRY- it is one of the major factor or reason of the domestic violence inIndia. An incessant demand for more and more dowry despite the number of years spent in conjugal living is one of the biggest causes for domestic violence.
Laws or Statutory Provisions which are dealing with domestic violence:
• Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
• 498A, IPC
• The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
• The Comission of Sati ( Prevention) Act, 1987
• Muslim Women (Protection of rights on divorce)Act
• The Constitution of India etc.
As per the Domestic Violence Act, an aggrieved woman, in order to file a complaint for domestic violence may:
• Approach the police station and register the complaint, or
• File a complaint to a Protection Officer or Service Provider, or
• Directly approach the Magistrate.
The Supreme Courtin recent judgements has emphasised that the Police has to look into the complaint made under the DV Act seriously and it cannot submit a report that no case is made out without proper verification, investigation, enquiry not only from members of family but also from neighbours, friends and others.
Objectives of Domestic Violence Act, 2005:
PWDV Act serves vital purpose,
a) To identify and determine that act of Domestic violence is unlawful and punishable by law.
b) To provide protection to victims.
c) To serve justice in a timely, cost effective and productive manner.
d) To prevent the commission of Domestic Violence and to take adequate steps.
e) To implement sufficient programs and agendas for the victims of domestic violence and to guarantee the recovery of such victims.
f) To spread awareness
g) To penalize the perpetrator with the harsh punishment.
h) To institute deterrence to not to commit such crime in a welfare state.
i) To lay down the law and govern it in accordance with the international standards for the prevention of domestic violence.
Social media over the period of time has emerged as the most helpful in spreading the information and busting up of myths that are prevalent in our country and the usage of various platforms like blogs, chats, online campaign, online discussion forums, online counseling, and online communities to discuss the issues and challenges of pertaining to women issues is ensuring that the same reach inside every home.
The Act itself, through the various remedies like, protection orders, residence orders, custody orders, maintenance and compensation orders ensures that no aspect of the violence suffered by the aggrieved woman goes unchecked. Although the major objective of this law, being to protect the women against domestic violence has been secured, certain portions of the law still remains to be developed.
This law provides civil remedies to the victims of domestic violence. Before enactment of this law, in order to seek any civil remedies such as divorce, custody of children, injunctions in any form or maintenance, a woman only had the option of taking recourse to the civil courts. Therefore, the DV Act has certainly brought about the required and necessary change in the system. Although the Act provides exhaustive remedies to counter the issue of domestic violence certain terms and its interpretation needs to develop. The Act falls short in providing any relief to the male members in the community who are subjected to domestic violence, being one of the areas where the law falls short. However, it also needs to be considered that no crime can be abolished from the society completely, it is only with stringent reforms and mechanism that it can be curbed.