In India, violence against women refers to physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a male against a woman. Domestic violence, sexual assault, and murder are all common types of violence against women in India. The act must be performed purely because the victim is female in order to be called violence against women. Many forms of violence are not deemed crimes or go unreported or unrecorded due to specific Indian cultural norms and beliefs, hence it is more prevalent than it appears.
Domestic violence occurs when one partner abuses another in a close connection such as dating, marriage, cohabitation, or a family. Domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate relationship violence (IPV) are all terms used to describe domestic violence. Physical, emotional, verbal, economic, and sexual abuse are all forms of domestic violence. Domestic violence can take many forms: subtle, coercive, and violent. Domestic abuse affects 70% of Indian women, according to lawmaker Renuka Chowdhury.
The Indian government has passed legislation such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 to try to reduce domestic violence. On the one hand, section 498A of the Indian Penal Code protects Indian women against dowry-related offenses perpetrated by their husbands and family. Every woman in a domestic partnership has the right to reside in the shared household under Section 17 of the Domestic Violence Act, whether or not she has any right, title, or interest in it. This provision goes on to say that the offended individual cannot be evicted or otherwise excluded from the common household unless there is a legal procedure in place.
Meaning Of Shared Household
Under Section 2(s) of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005, the Shared household has been defined as the house in which the distressed person at any stage has lived along with the respondent in a domestic relationship by the relation of blood, marriage, adoption or any family members.
The Supreme Court has completely overturned its earlier judgments in “S.R Batra Vs Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169,” which were based on an incorrect interpretation of Section 2(s) of the Act. In the above-mentioned case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court decided that a woman can only claim a right to stay in a “shared household” under Section 17(1) of the Act, which would only include the house that the husband owns or rents or the house that belongs to the joint family to which the husband belongs. The consequence of this finding was that the only fact that the spouses resided in the house wholly owned by the husband’s father as a gift did not make the property a “shared household” for the purposes of the Act.
Before And After 2005, Women's Rights Against Domestic Abuse
The Domestic Violence Act of 2005 is India’s first significant attempt to recognize domestic violence as a criminal offense, expand its provisions to individuals in live-in relationships, and offer victims emergency aid in addition to legal redress.
The civil (divorce) and criminal (section 498A of the Indian Penal Code) remedies available to a victim of domestic violence were limited until 2005. The victim had no immediate recourse; the remedies that were available were tied to marriage proceedings; and the court proceedings were always lengthy, leaving the victim at the whim of the abuser. Because of these circumstances, most women would rather suffer in quiet. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed primarily to remedy these inconsistencies.
Any woman who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the ‘respondent’ in the case will benefit from Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act. It allows women to file a complaint against someone they have a ‘domestic relationship’ in a ‘shared household’ and who has abused them. This Act also protects children, who can make a complaint against a parent or parents who are physically, mentally, or financially torturing them. On behalf of a kid, anyone can register a complaint. The ‘respondent’ is any adult male member who has been in a domestic connection with the aggrieved person, according to Section 2 (q). A male partner or a relative of the husband can also be the respondent. Thus, a father-in-law, mother-in-law, or even the husband’s brothers and other relatives can be sued.
Highlights Of The Rights Of The Women Under The Act
The law is so liberal and progressive that it recognizes a woman’s right to live in a joint household with her spouse or partner, even if there is a legal conflict. As a result, it prohibits husbands from throwing their wives out of the house when there is a disagreement. A husband’s behavior will now be considered unlawful, not just unethical.
The legislation stipulates that if an abused woman demands alternative housing, she must be provided with it, and her husband or partner must pay for both the accommodation and her maintenance.
Even though she is a victim of domestic violence, she has the right to live in “shared residences,” where she lives with the abusive partner. Section 17 of the law, which grants all married women or female partners in a domestic partnership the right to reside in residents known as the shared household in legal terms, applies regardless of whether she has any right, title, or beneficial interest in it.
Sections 18-23 offer a wide range of legal recourse alternatives. She can seek protection orders, residence orders, monetary relief, child custody orders, compensation orders, and interim/ex parte orders through the courts.
A woman who has been the victim of domestic violence has the right to seek help from the police, shelters, and medical facilities. She also has the option of filing her own complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code at the same time.
It is a punishable offense if a husband breaches any of the foregoing rights of the aggrieved woman. In addition to the charges under this Act, the magistrate can make charges under Section 498A. The crimes are also cognizable and non-bailable. Violations of the rights listed above could result in a year in prison and/or a maximum fine of Rs 20,000.
Abuses Covered Under The Act
In the judgment of Bhartiben Bipinbhai, Tamboli v. State of Gujarat the abuses mentioned in the Act were defined in detail: –
Physical abuse is when a male uses physical force against a woman, causing her bodily harm or injury. Physical assault, criminal intimidation (threaten to cause harm), and criminal force (use force against a person to cause injury) in the form of beatings, kicks, punches, abandoning the aggrieved person in a dangerous place, threatening her with weapons, forcing her to leave her matrimonial home, injuring her children, etc.
Sexual abuse is a type of physical violence in which a woman is compelled to engage in any unwanted, dangerous or demeaning sexual activity. It includes calling her sexual names, injuring her with tools or weapons during sex, and even forcing her to have consensual sex with a spouse or intimate partner.
Emotional Abuse: Not all abusive relationships include physical harm or violence. Many women suffer from emotional abuse, which is just as damaging. It can involve yelling obscenities, blaming, isolating, frightening, displaying dominating behavior, insulting, or constantly criticizing her.
Economic Abuse: Economic abuse refers to a woman’s partner failing to give her adequate money to support herself and her children, such as clothing, food, and medicine. It also includes denying women the opportunity to work. Apart from that, refusing to pay her rent, depriving her of financial resources to which she is entitled under any custom or law, and denying her access to a shared household all fall under this category. It also involves selling or alienating her movable or immovable assets, jewelry, stocks, bonds, and other properties in which she has a stake.
Other Important Judicial Inroads
Velusamy v. D. Patchiammal- As aforementioned Section 2 of the Act defines the meaning of shared household and it also defined the relationships which come under Shared Household (married, live-in relationships, adoption, family members, blood relations) but in this case requirements for live-in relationships was explained, such as parties must behave like wife and husband, parties should have attained the legal age of marriage and they should fulfill the requirements to get into marriage, must have the voluntary will to live together and more to it this case also highlighted that if the man kept the women for any purpose like as a servant or an assistant then that would not be considered as a relationship with the liabilities of Shared Household.
The Bombay High Court ruled in Roma Rajesh Tiwari v. Rajesh Dinanath Tiwari that women had the right to live in their marital home, and the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was passed to protect women’s rights to live in a married home or joint household.
Criticism And Gaps Of The Act
There are a few Gaps and criticism of the Act, like: –
Some have criticized the statute for being solely civil, rather than both civil and criminal, as it was intended to be. Domestic violence becomes a criminal offence only when it is coupled with another offence, such as failing to comply with a court-ordered protection order.
Many individuals believe that this rule suggests that men are the only ones who commit domestic violence. As a result, this law violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution by discriminating against men by enabling only women to submit a complaint against domestic abuse. Also, Domestic abuse is defined too broadly, allowing crafty women to wreak havoc on men for no apparent reason.
A Protection Officer, who is identified by the State Government, is the authority responsible for the successful implementation of the Act, according to the Act. Such an officer is tasked with aiding the court, initiating action on behalf of the aggrieved, and overseeing the victim’s needs for medical assistance, counselling, and legal assistance, among other things. The personnel nominated under the Act, on the other hand, are not full-time employees. In fact, most of the time, this obligation is added on to individuals who are already employed by the government. Most of these folks are unqualified for this position.
Societal Welfare & Activism
- There have been many efforts not only by the Government but also by various authors and filmmakers who judiciously work on the activism of domestic violence and the Rights of aggrieved women. Few such movies like Thappad by Anubhav Sinha, Sleeping with the Enemy by Joseph Ruben, and Dying to Divorce apart from this there is a famous documentary “Domestic Violence” released in 2001 which showed an analysis of the factors resulting a relationship turning into an abusive one and where dowry is not an only factor. Domestic Violence also occurs due to the factors like alcoholism, work pressure, and differences in thoughts and views, which are the aspects shown in this documentary.
There have been endless cases of domestic abuses between various class of the society, despite most of the times it has been derive that these cases occur generally in lower- or middle-class people but this is not true in many articles and books like No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise, The Gift of Fear by Cavin De Becker, Journals of Family Violence have shown that the domestic violence is prevalent in all classes and masses of the society.
- The scar of domestic violence is very deep, despite various rights and freedom the pain of victims and their family is a long-strained process where they suffer from various societal aspects and shame which is wholly illogical but the society arises multiple questions about the victims too, the role of NGOs and various activist groups who help these victims to restart their lives again with a new perspective. NGOs like Majlis Manch, Frontiers Welfare Society, Sapna, Apnalaya, and Action Aid work not only to provide legal help for the victims but also to Assist victims of assault and vulnerable women by addressing their distress from a distance.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, which went into effect in October 2006, is a promising piece of legislation that combines civil and criminal punishments to provide effective remedies to domestic violence victims. The act establishes protection officers, medical facilities, and no-cost orders, among other things, to assist abused women in safeguarding themselves and their families.
However, there are several issues with the Act. Clearly, the Act’s implementation has to be more specific. Police often do not submit a First Information Report (FIR), which is the first stage in starting a police investigation, according to Human Rights Watch, especially if the aggrieved individual is from a low-income or socially marginalized population. In India, the majority of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and marital rape instances go unreported. Domestic abuse victims’ agony is exacerbated by a lack of skilled counselors who can assist them, as well as limited access to legal aid. Issues like this must be resolved in order for women to receive the justice they deserve.
Top 13 Interesting Facts
The Domestic Violence Act, of 2005 defined “domestic violence” for the first time in Indian Law.
The Act states that even after filling the charges against the husband the women can reside in their spouse’s home.
The Domestic Violence Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2002.
The Act came into force in 2006 by the Indian Government and the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The aggrieved party can get free legal service under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.
The types of abuses in the domestic violence were defined in the Judgment of Bhartiben Bipinbhai Tamboli v. the State of Gujarat.
Even the aggrieved in a live-in relationship can file charges under this Act.
The Domestic Violence Protection Bill was written by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Company Affairs (Legislative Department) of the Government of India.
Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, even husbands can submit a complaint against their wives for domestic violence.
There was no specific legislation for situations of domestic violence before 2005.
There is no time limit for filing a Domestic Violence case.
Section 18-23 of the Act provides the provisions of Legal redressals like Monetary Relief, Custody order of Children, Residence Orders, etc.
Domestic violence is a non-cognizable and non-bailable offense under the D.V. Act, 2005.
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