Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

This article deals with ‘ Domestic Violence .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .

Introduction

  • Domestic Violence is also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) .
  • Domestic violence in India is endemic. Around 70% of women in India are victims  .

Forms of Domestic Violence

Physical Injury Includes slapping, kicking,  hitting, beating etc.
It is the most visible form .
Emotional Abuse Includes harassment; threats, verbal abuse , blaming and isolation etc. 
It erodes woman’s sense of self-worth .
Sexual Assault – Includes touching, or fondling; sexual coercion ; wife swapping etc.

Domestic Violence

Causes of Domestic Violence

  • Dowry Demands :  It can lead to physical & emotional abuse and even dowry death and bride burning. 
  • Patriarchal structure of household  .
  • Cultural acceptance of Domestic Violence.  
  • Alcoholic husband.
  • Not having a male child.
  • Violence against young widows esp. in rural areas as they are cursed for their husband’s death  .
  • Under Reporting :  Under reporting & non reporting encourage partner to indulge more into this .

Effects of Domestic Violence

  • Emotional distress & suicidal tendencies in women suffering from Domestic Violence.
  • Infringement of Fundamental Rights of women including Right to Life .
  • Serious health problems :  Injury,  Unwanted Pregnancy etc.
  • Negative Impact on Children : Children of such parents also face psychological problems and they live in atmosphere of fear .

Act : Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

  • Definition of Domestic Violence has been modified recently – it includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic and further harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives.
  • It has widened the scope of the term WOMEN :  Act now covers “live- in partners”, wives, sisters, widows, mothers, single women, divorced women  .
  • Right to Secure Housing i.e. right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household, whether or not she has any title or rights in the household. 
  • Principal of Locus Standi doesn’t apply .
  • For women who prefer not to stay in the shared household, state needs to create shelter homes.
  • To fast-track the verdict , first hearing should happen within 3 days after receiving application and case should be disposed  in 60 days.
  • Protection Officers to provide assistance to woman for medical examination, legal aid  etc.
  • Act has a provision of upto 1 year imprisonment  .

Lacunae in the Act

  • Madras High Court Bench observed that it can be misused by the women to file frivolous cases .
  • A man can be booked under the Domestic Violence act even if women feel that she has been mentally harassed and verbally abused. But these terms are subjective .
  • Conviction rate is very low (just 3%) .
  • Marital rape is not included in the definition of Domestic Violence.
  • There is no provision of online filing of cases .
  • Number of protection officers appointed in state are inadequate .
  • Act singles out men as perpetrators of domestic violence and assumes that only women are victims. A man, who is a victim of domestic violence, has no rights under this law. In the western world, the domestic violence laws  provide protection to  both men and women.

Hence, the law in its current form is grossly inadequate to tackle the problem of domestic violence. It imposes a lot  of responsibility on men, without giving them rights. On the other hand, it gives lots of rights to women without requiring them to be responsible.

Recent Judgement making it Gender Neutral

Supreme Court has laid down that a woman can also file a complaint against another woman, accusing her of domestic violence.

Reasoning of Court

  • Since the perpetrators and abettors of domestic violence can also be women, insulating them would frustrate the objectives of the Act. Under this immunity, females and minors can continue to commit domestic violence. 
  • It discriminates between persons similarly situated and, thus, violates Article 14 of the Constitution. 

Significance of the Change

  • It makes Domestic Violence gender neutral .  
  • However, there are concerns that it would encourage husbands to file counter cases against their wives through their mothers or sisters

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