Abstract – The article will make the readers conscious of the heinous act, i.e., the domestic violence in India. The article talks about the rising cases of domestic violence during the lockdown in West Bengal and the role of the West Bengal Women’s Commission in curbing such menace.
In India, domestic violence against women is dominantly prevalent, that is tried to conceal. We live in a patriarchal society where one in every three women is subject to domestic violence. According to a research, 45 percent of women in India are subjected to violence by their spouses. Domestic abuse is a largely unseen crime that occurs mostly behind closed doors.
During the lockdown, West Bengal saw an increase in domestic violence cases. Many women were subjected to domestic violence and physical abuse. Women had previously faced physical assaults, but the lockdown had exacerbated and worsened the situation.
Since the imposition of lockdown, more than seventy domestic violence cases have been reported to the commission. The number of complaints received during this period was higher than in the months preceding the lockdown.
According to the state women’s commission, domestic violence cases in West Bengal have increased during the lockdown. Since the lockdown was imposed, the commission has witnessed a surge in reports of domestic violence. The complaints came from all over the state, in both rural and urban areas, including Kolkata.
National and International laws
Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act 2005
This Act was promulgated to protect women against physical, sexual, and emotional abuses, all of which are widely specified under the Act. The Act not only talks about the protection of married women, but also women who are in live-in relationships with men. It is a must that woman should be free from all forms of violence.
Section 498 of IPC
“Whoever takes or entices away from any woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe is the wife of another man, from that man, or any person caring for her on behalf of that man, with the intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals or detains any such woman with that intent, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a period which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
Dowry prohibition Act, 1961
Anyone who provides, accepts or even asks dowry can be imprisoned for a half-year (i.e., six months) or fined up to Five Thousand Rupees under this rule.
CEDAW adopts a three-dimensional and practical approach based on the concept of substantive equality or gender equality. This goes beyond equal opportunity and legal language to consider the current state of women’s lives as the actual litmus test for whether or not equality has been attained.
The media still does not play an influential role in minimizing domestic violence against women. They fail to cover the incidents and spread those to the mass, taking place every day in the marginalized communities. Because the media serves as society’s eyes, ears, and limbs, it has the potential to significantly reduce violence against women.
ROLE OF MEDIA IN COVERING THESE ISSUES
The role of media should be to expose the shades of malice and spread awareness about the rights of the women. The media needs to be aware of the violence directed against women. Indeed, many women have said that the media’s coverage of an assault or other form of brutality resembled a second attack due to the insensitivity with which they used images, published names, and other invasions of privacy.
The media’s involvement in the issues of violence against women is essential both in terms of how it covers the matter and in terms of how it may be utilized to assist activists and governments in raising awareness and implementing necessary programme.
In general, the media lacks in instilling an extensive awareness of domestic violence in the public. As a result, many scholars believe that media portrayals of domestic violence are part of a hegemonic patriarchal worldview that obscures both the issue of domestic violence and the underlying social processes that generate it.
S.R Batra and Anr v. Smt. Taruna Batra
Referring to Sec17(1), 4Sec2(S) Of Domestic Violence Act, the Supreme Court held that:
Only the wife has the right to live in a joint household.
A house owned by a husband, a house rented by a husband, or a house that belongs to a husband’s joint family is considered a shared home.
The judgement further noted that, under section 19(1)(f) of the act, the claim for alternative accommodation may only be raised against the spouse and not against his in-laws or other relatives.
As a result of the facts of the case, it was determined that the wife could not claim a right of residency in the property belonging to her mother-in-law.
Dr Velusamy v. Patchaiammal
The court noted that the Act’s definition of “domestic relationship” in section 5 sec 2(f) includes not just marriage but also a relation “like marriage” in this case.
Because the term “relationship like marriage” isn’t defined in the Act, the court clarified its meaning. According to the court, not all living relationships qualify as “relationships like marriage,” which must meet the following criteria. In addition, the parties must have lived together in a “shared household.”
The couple must exhibit themselves as husband and wife to the rest of society. To marry, they must be of legal age. To engage in lawful marriage, they must meet all other requirements, including being unmarried.
The government must develop a comprehensive strategy and allocate sufficient funds to provide support services to survivors, ensure the application of domestic violence laws, and conduct public awareness campaigns emphasizing that domestic violence is a crime and that the state will take strict action against it. The judicial system must become more active and effective in bringing justice to victims and sufferers.
This blog is written by Shruti Bose, studying at Christ (Deemed to be University), Lavasa
Edited by Deeksha Arora.
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