This article is written by Pooja Lakshmi, a student of Bennett University.
Domestic Violence is often described as misusing of power by an adult during a relationship to regulate another. It is the establishment of control and fear during a relationship through violence and other sorts of abuse. The question raised in this article is how far the Domestic Violence Act 2005 has succeeded in adequately defining all types of Domestic Violence and providing redressal and protection to its victims. Domestic Violence is a significant barrier to women’s empowerment with an impact on women’s health, their health-seeking behaviour, and their adoption of small family norms. The difficulty has been tackled on conceptual and practical grounds. While the enactment mentioned above is a crucial initiative in terms of the concepts it introduces into the Indian legal system, the viability of its implementation could also be contested on specific grounds. The present study is confined to explore the scope of the judiciary processes within the prevention of crime. The role of the police has been evaluated critically in the article.
The protection of women under the Domestic Violence Act 2005 gives the legal definition of “Domestic Violence” under S. 3 of the Act. This Act applies to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a civil law that focuses on the reliefs like compensation, protection, right to residence within the “shared household,” given to the aggrieved woman. Domestic Violence includes any harm or injury to the security, life, health, or well being of any woman caused by any physical, sexual, verbal, or economic abuse. Moreover, it also includes any injury or harm done to the aggrieved woman or her relative to coerce any of them to fulfil unlawful dowry demand. Threats to commit violence are also covered under this definition. The Act applies to all the women, regardless of their legal status, age, or religious beliefs. The broad definition of “domestic violence” under this Act protects the rights of women bound to them under the Indian Constitutional, to attain a violence-free home.
People Who are Covered under the Act
The Act covers all the women who could be mother, sister, wife, widow, or partners living in an exceedingly shared household. The connection could also be of marriage or adoption. Additionally, relationships with members of the family living together as a joint family are also included. However, the sister of the husband or the male partner cannot file a complaint against the wife or the feminine partner, e.g., the mother-in-law cannot file an application against the daughter-in-law, but she can file an application against her daughter-in-law for abetting her son to commit violence against her.
Complaint can be filed by
- Any woman who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the offender.
- Any individual may file a complaint on her behalf.
- A child is additionally entitled to relief under the Domestic Violence Act. The mother of such a toddler can make an application on behalf of her minor child (whether male or female). In cases where the mother files an application in the court for herself, the youngsters can also be added as co-applicants.
Complaint can be filed against
- Includes both male and feminine relatives of the male partner
- Relatives of the male partner or husband
- Any male member who was in a domestic relationship with the lady
Information could also be given in the form of a complaints made to police officer/Protection Officer/Service provider (an NGO), or a Magistrate.
Steps Taken by the Magistrate and the Police Officer
Upon receipt of a complaint of domestic violence, the Protection Officer or the Service Provider needs to prepare a DIR in Form 1 (as provided within the Domestic Violence Act) and submit an equivalent to the Magistrate, and the copies of it to the policeman responsible of the concerned police headquarters.
If the lady so desires, the Protection Officer or the Service Provider can assist the lady in filing the application for reliefs and a replica of the DIR is to be annexed with such an application.
Direct the respondent or the aggrieved person, either singly or jointly, to undergo counselling. Direct that the lady shall not be evicted or excluded from the household or any a part of it. If required, the proceedings can also get conducted under camera surveillance.
Issue a protection order, providing protection to the lady.
Grant monetary relief to satisfy the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person as a result of the domestic violence.
Grant custody orders, i.e., temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person.
Grant compensation/damages for the injuries including mental torture and emotional distress caused by the act of domestic violence
Breach of any order of the Magistrate is an offence which is punishable under the taw.
Domestic Violence in India
The first step in overcoming domestic violence is learning about domestic violence, increasing domestic violence awareness, and understanding domestic abuse. Domestic violence is not only done by husbands. It is called violence or domestic abuse, albeit by your parents, in-laws, and other relations. The signs of domestic violence (DV) do not always seem visible, and tons of ladies do not report that they are facing violence. Even the woman’s family is not supportive at times due to the shame and guilt surrounding such issues. According to the National Family Health Survey (NHFS-4) released by the Union Health Ministry, every third woman, since the age of 15, has faced domestic violence of varied forms in the country. Most of the time, perpetrators of this violence are the husbands. The survey also found that 31% of married women have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their spouses. The foremost common sort of spousal violence is physical violence (27%), followed by emotional violence (13%). The survey did not mention economic abuse as violence, though this is a significant form of abuse among domestic violence victims in India.
COVID-19 and Domestic Violence
Fuelled by mandatory stay-at-home rules, social distancing, economic uncertainties, and anxieties caused by the pandemic, violence has increased globally. Across the globe, countries like China, the USA, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Tunisia, France, Australia, and other countries have reported increased domestic violence cases. India, famous for gender-based violence (and ranked the fourth worst country for gender equality, is consistent with public perception) shows similar trends.
When the government plans to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing violence must be prioritized. The government had overlooked the requirement to formally integrate domestic violence and psychological state repercussions with the general public health preparedness and emergency response plans against the pandemic. We need an aggressive nationwide campaign to spread awareness about domestic violence, highlighting the various modes through which the complaints can be filed. National news channels, radio channels, and social media platforms must be used strategically for combating COVID-19.
Civil society organizations are critical to assist. Many non-profit organizations enable access to medical assistance, legal aid, counselling, and 24×7 shelter needs. Therefore, in its efforts to combat COVID-19, the govt must allow civil society organizations, counsellors, mental state organizations, and other service providers to come out and help individuals facing domestic violence.
The Act does have a couple of defects, and therefore, the implementation leaves tons to be desired; the policy by itself seems quite practical. Yes, it is important to know that men too face violence. Yes, it is essential to implement the Act and keep the government in-charge of formulating measures. However, it is also crucial to acknowledge that at the time of the Act (and even now), it had been extremely vital to initiate a law that provides easy access to justice to women. This is often due to increasing dowry deaths, and domestic and sexual violence against women being rampant. The Act aims to provide a simplified procedure and access to civil and quasi-criminal remedies to women who face violence, and it has succeeded in doing so to an outsized extent. Problems with the specific implementation of the regulations are evident. In many districts, rather than employing Protection Officers, existing organizations are given this responsibility, but the question of whether these organizations are well-equipped to handle a similar condition persists.
- Domestic Violence Act – 2005, vikaspedia, https://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/women-and-child-development/women-development-1/meera-didi-se-poocho/domestic-violence-act-2005
- Everything You Need To Know About The Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005, feminism in India, https://feminisminindia.com/2016/09/13/domestic-violence-act-india-pwdva/
- Aanchal Singh, what is Domestic Violence? An introduction to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Leaflet, https://theleaflet.in/know-your-rights-domestic-violence-an-introduction-women-2005-act-aanchal-singh/
- naaree, how to find domestic violence counselling helplines and support in India, https://www.naaree.com/domestic-violence-helplines-india/
- ARJUN KUMAR, BALWANT SINGH MEHTA, SIMI MEHTA, The link between lockdown, COVID-19, and domestic violence, idronline, https://idronline.org/the-link-between-lockdown-covid-19-and-domestic-violence/
- Rakhi Lahiri, The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act: The Current Situation, HRLN
- Das, P.K. (2009) Universal’s Handbook on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act & Rules. Third edition. New Delhi: Universal.
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