A Detailed Look At Domestic Violence In India: A Look At The Law [Part 3]

Posted on June 24, 2012 in Society

By Madhuja Barman:

The Domestic Violence Act of 2005 was passed for the protection of women. It was brought forth by the Indian government from October 26, 2006.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: 1) For the purposes of this Act, any conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence if he– (a) habitually assaults or makes the life of the aggrieved person miserable by cruelty of conduct even if such conduct does not amount to physical ill-treatment; or (b) forces the aggrieved person to lead an immoral life; or (c) otherwise injures or harms the aggrieved person. (2) Nothing contained in clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall amount to domestic violence if the pursuit of course of conduct by the respondent was reasonable for his own protection or for the protection of his or another’s property. [3]

The Act tried to cover a wide range of problems which a woman faces in her day-to-day life. It tries to give relief to those who has been or is in a relationship in which one of the party is an abuser and is been living in a shared household by marriage, adoption etc.

Domestic violence includes actual abuse or even the threat of abuse. Even cases of dowry demands will also be covered in this section. The Act is beneficial for women as it allows the woman to reside in her matrimonial house irrespective of whether she has any title or right over that house. This right is secured by a residence order, which is passed by a court. These residence orders cannot be passed against anyone who is a woman.

The Act is also beneficial as it stops the abuser from committing or threatening to commit any other violence against the women. They are given full protection from the abuser. The protection extends to such limit where the abuser is not allowed to meet the women or enter her workplace and interact with her. The draft Act provides for appointment of Protection Officers and NGOs to provide assistance to the woman with respect to medical examination, legal aid, safe shelter, etc.

The Act even makes scope for punishment to the abuser which may be simple punishment. The same punishment can be meted out by the Protection officers also if they don’t carry out their assigned duty in a proper and acceptable way. They can be given punishment of simple imprisonment.

However, this Act faces a lot of criticisms and thus has not been accepted wholeheartedly by all the sections of the society.

It is said that in today’s world not only women but also men faces a lot of harassment and abuse and this Act gives special privilege to only women and doesn’t recognize the rights of men. Thus, many organisations which work for the welfare of men so that they don’t face any kind of abuse at their household or workplace oppose this Act.

The Act does not cover physical harassment and mental harassment. Even a sophisticated judge may have difficulty deciding if an act really caused mental harassment. On several occasions, the judge changes his mind many times on deciding if an act is mental harassment or not, but the law says that she can go to the protection officer to file the case. In many cases, women file this case just to earn monthly interim maintenance from her husband. [4]

Some steps which can be taken to at least reduce the violence against women is that they should receive education. Education is a powerful tool which helps women to decipher what is beneficial or what is harmful for them. It helps them to choose all such better means which will help them lead a better life.

Women should be made self-reliant. They should earn for themselves and should not be dependent on anyone for any financial help or for fulfilling their desires. This surely is an effective way to curb domestic violence.

There are many other ways which can be thought of and used in our lives which will help to bring down the scale of domestic violence. Domestic violence against women is a growing menace and if we have to stop such a menace then we have to work together. Even the women who are a victim of domestic violence should raise their voices and fight for themselves. Keeping quite is not a solution.

‘One who surrenders to such violence is a much bigger culprit than the one who commits such violence.’