DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – The Wreckage of Women

Author: Pratiksha Priyadarshini, 2nd Year, BBA LL.B, New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University.

INTRODUCTION

“The more that we opt not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose.[1]” ― Russell Wilson

Inside the four walls of a room and behind the closed doors lies, what we humans impetuously consider, a safe haven. Always knowing but her acknowledging that the four-walled confinement is all too relative. A classroom for a student, a lab for a scientist, a library for a bibliophile, a jail for a jailbird and maybe many a times a room of unsatiated requirements for a man to unleash his unsaid, unheard, covert monstrosities on his woman. The term Domestic violence against women is an act of causing or tending to cause any harm or injury, whether physical or mental, to the woman by her husband or any relative of her husband including women and any non-adult person. They treat women like a stress ball, playing oblivious to the fact that human is not made of rubbers and that their break-point, in this case, ensues into the death of human rights, smothering her life inside out and often outside in. This predicament follows not only in matrimonial homes but also in live-in relationships. The most prevalent forms of abuses that constitute Domestic Violence are physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal or emotional abuse and economic abuse. This menace is undoubtedly linked to the existing and implacable patriarchy in the Indian society, economic dependence and inherent biological weakness in muscles. Wonder what shall happen if every woman tries to be like Geeta Phogat. This lowly life eyesore takes form when the perpetrator has shredded any moral fibre left wires to thrive in his or her body. It steps it foot down when they misunderstand that their lady has to be tamed, unbeknownst to the overpowering reality that you do not tame a lioness, unless maybe in a circus. Unfortunately, it isn’t just scattered widely throughout the nation, but its incidence is also extensive and sweeping making it a typical and accepted behaviour.

The root of this despicable act is deeply instilled in the evolutionary history of mankind in India thus creating serious impacts on the health and well-being of women. It is not only recognized as the consequential obstacle in the trail of women empowerment but also creates a hurdle and distortion in the democratic set up of the country. Although, over the years, the participation of women in public life has increased and numerous laws have been made and amended, yet the nation is light years away from implementing the laws on a grass-root level and giving the women their natural rights to enable them to be treated as equal citizens of the nation. Though noteworthy push has been made to curb this menace but the cases registered represent the tip of the ice-berg. Most of these incidents of violence go unreported due to various societal pressures and the fear of defamation. Rigorous enforcement of laws coupled with reformative education to change the mindset of people is requires to end this menace.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: ITS ABUSIVE FORMS AND A BRIEF ANALYSIS

Domestic violence against women aka Intimate Partner violence (IPV) is such a widespread menace that has its roots in every fragment of the society. It is committed against women regardless of their age and socio-economic condition. This viciousness includes multiple forms of abuses. According to Section 3 of Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act,2005[2], the various types of abuses are explained as follows:

  •  Physical abuse- It is an act where the perpetrator causes bodily harm, injury, damage or threat to the life of the woman. It includes assault, coercion and use of criminal force.
  •  Sexual abuse- It incorporates any act or demonstration of sexual nature that abuses, humiliates or in any case debases the dignity of a woman.
  •  Verbal and Emotional abuse- It is an act or conduct, where the perpetrator insults, humiliates, derision and verbally abuses the victim, particularly with regard to not having a child or a male child. In addition, it includes repeated intimidations to cause physical harm to any person in whom the victim is interested
  •  Economic abuse- It includes an act of :
  1. Depriving the victim of all or any economic asses to which she is entitled under any law whether payable under an order of a court or in any case or which the victim requires due to legitimate need including, however not restricted to, family necessities for the bothered individual and her children, assuming any, stridhan, property, together or independently possessed by the distressed individual, payment of rent related to the shared household and maintenance;
  2.  Disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and
  3.  Limitation to continued access to resources or facilities which the victim is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household[3]

According to the report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2018 Domestic Violence against women secures top position in the crime against women in India. The report also says that in 2018 around a total of 89,097 cases were registered across India related to crimes against women in 2018. Of the total cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the women, the majority of the cases were registered under the ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ at 31.9 per cent. It was then followed by ‘assault on women’ at 27.6 per cent. The cases of the ‘kidnapping and abduction of women stood at 22.5 per cent and the rape cases comprised 10.3 per cent of the overall crime figures. A total of 50,74,634 cognizable crimes, comprising 31,32,954 IPC and 19,41,680 Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes, were registered in 2018. Despite an increase of 1.3 per cent in the registration of cases in 2018 over 2017 with 50,07,044 cases, the crime rate per lakh population has declined from 388.6 in 2017 to 383.5 in 2018.[4]

HEATH IMPLICATIONS ON WOMEN

Domestic Violence not just causes physical injury but also sabotages the emotional and psychological well-being of the victim. It looms down a dark shadow on the society at large. This social evil is a major contributor to the underlined ill-health and poor well-being of the women. It has serious outcomes on the physical and psychological well-being of women, including their reproductive and sexual well-being. These traumas include bodily wounds, gynaecological disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts, the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), even deaths. The physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, sexual abuse and economical abuse- these vicious forms of abuses which are an integral part of this menace silently destroys the quality of life of women and society at large.

LAWS MADE TO PROTECT WOMEN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

It is high time to stop pretending to notice the crime that affects the half of our population and equipping ourselves to deal with this menace of domestic violence. To protect the women who have fallen into the prey of domestic violence, laws have been made. The three laws that directly deals with the crime of Domestic Violence are:

THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT,1961[5]

The Dowry Prohibition Act,1961, a criminal law enacted to prevent the extortion of money from the woman’s family during and after the marriage and the deaths and tortures caused due to dowry. It punishes the taking as well as giving of dowry. Under this law, if any individual is found giving, taking or even demanding dowry, he/she would be imprisoned for six months and can be fined up to Rs 5000.

SECTION 498A OF IPC,1860[6]

To safeguard women against the violence at home, in 1983, Sec. 498-A was introduced under Indian Penal Code,1860 which deals with Cruelty to women by their husbands or the relatives of their husbands and respectively penalizes them for their crime. This law punishes the perpetrators of the crime on whose any conduct grave harm or injury is caused to woman’s life or health (physical or mental) or drives the woman to suicide or any harassment in the name of dowry. If the respondent(s) is found guilty of the crime or convicted by the court of law, they can be imprisoned for a period of three years under this provision.

THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT,2005[7]

The term ‘Domestic Violence’ was coined for the first time in Indian Law under ‘The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005’. This Act safeguards the basic human rights and fundamental rights of women guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, who are aggrieved by any kind of violence within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This law not only protects women of matrimonial relationships of this evil practice but also to the women on a live-in relationship. It penalizes the perpetrators of the crime and also to the Protection Officers if they failed to discharge their duties as directed by the Magistrate.

PREVENT, AWARE AND COMBAT

  • Before marriage, couples should be given pre-marital counselling on how to manage their matrimonial relationships. · Rights of women, basic human rights and gender equality lessons should be taught children from a very tender age. It will help in transforming the mindset of the upcoming generation.
  • From rural area to urban, small cities to big cities- legal literacy camps, seminars and workshops should be organized. People should be made aware of the legal repercussions of committing the crime of domestic violence. Especially women should be made aware of their basic human rights and fundamental rights and remedies they get under the law i.e. compensation, protection, shelter homes, etc. It should be done on a regular and systematic basis.
  •  The medical professionals should be properly sensitized to treat the victims. They should refer the victims to the counselling centres and psychotherapists. · The lists of counselling centres, NGOs and other governmental organizations working for the welfare, healthcare and well-being of women should be made known in public. · Lady judges and magistrates should be allotted to handle the cases of domestic violence against women.
  • Women’s economic dependence on men is a significant factor responsible for this menace. To curb this menace, it is important that new scopes, fields and opportunities should be opened to provide them with employment.
  • More and more access to education should be given to women. They should be trained on how to deal and combat with such cases.
  • Media should bring the attention of the officials and the public about the cases of domestic violence so that the aggrieved can receive a speedy help.
  • Public enlightenment through media is a good way of creating awareness among people. Films and other audio-visual messages should be made and broadcasted show domestic violence as wrong, illegal and unacceptable.
  • Perpetrators of domestic violence who cause grievous hurt to the victim should be punished publicly so that it set an example for others.
  • Large no. of Protection Officers and Service Providers should be appointed to attend and assist the aggrieved women of domestic violence. It would be more helpful if more no. women are appointed as Protection Officers and Service Providers, as a woman can comprehend the nuances of the problem of the fellow woman with a higher degree of sensitivity and consequently the victim too will be able to share the grievance without hesitation.

CONCLUSION

After having wandered over the sensitive issue of domestic violence against women; the significance of the discussion of this topic is crystal clear. This menace is a big obstacle in the path of women empowerment and the social development of the country yet is highly ignored by the people. In the private realm, this menace is often relegated to secondary status. The brutality of the violence is far more extensive and more profound in real life than what has been shrouded in this essay. Here, the pristine truth stands out, presenting the other side of the story where Belle could never make a prince of that beast, where maybe Sita betrothed Ravan or Draupadi Duryodhana. So, it is essential to work upon and take preventive action upon the varying causes that spark this viciousness within four walls. Law alone is going to curb this issue. The mindset of the people needs to be changed. Also, proper implementation of the law is necessary. It’s high time to stop ignoring and start equipping ourselves to deal with this menace. It’s high time to annihilate and carve out this menace.


REFERENCES:

[1] Lynn Zinser,First Contributor to Jeter’s Website, Russell Wilson, Talks About Domestic Violence, The New York Times(May 12 2020 10:41pm),https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/03/sports/football/jeters-first-forum-contributor-russell-wilson-talks-about-domestic-violence.html

[2] Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act,2005, Act of Parliament,2006.

[3] id

[4]Domestic violence tops crime against women in 2018: NCRB,newKerala.com(May 12, 2020, 10:44 pm),https://www.newkerala.com/news/2020/4260.htm

[5] The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Act No. 28, ACT OF PARLIAMENT,1961

[6] The Indian Penal Code, 1860, Act No. 45,1860

[7] Supra note 5


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