02 Apr Everything You Need to Understand About Domestic Violence Act
Domestic violence is a dangerous threat to women in India. It is a crime that occurs behind closed doors and often goes unreported and unacknowledged as its signs are not always evident. In India, a case of domestic violence is reported every 5 minutes. Only husbands are not the sole culprit of domestic violence; it is done by parents, in-laws, and other members. The violence against women is not prevalent in only the lower and middle class, but also a problem among prominent and famous people.
No one deserved to be abused in any way but knowing your legal rights and understanding the domestic violence act can make a massive difference in the victim’s present and future, making the victim aware, fearless and confident.
Before going deeper into the act, first let us understand what domestic violence is.
What is the Meaning of Domestic Violence?
- Causing hurt, mental or physical, injury or danger to life, limb, health, safety, or well-being
- Causing harm to the woman to pressurize her or any other person related to her for dowry.
- Physical abuse” includes hurt like assault, intimidation, and criminal force.
- Sexual abuse” includes any act of sexual nature such as abusing, humiliating, degrading, or violating one’s dignity by forced sexual intercourse, causing the aggrieved person to watch pornography or other obscene material, forcing a woman to amuse others.
- Verbal and emotional abuse” such as insult for not bringing dowry, insult for not having a male child, accusation on character, etc. Forcing not to study, or work, giving threats to cause injury to the person in whom the woman is interested or wanted to marry.
- Economic abuse” includes not providing money for food, clothes, medicine, or maintaining a woman or her children, forcing a woman out of the house and restricting the women from using any part of the house, forcibly taking away jobs, salary, income or wages, etc. Non-payment of rent and other bills such as electricity, etc.
To protect women from Domestic Violence in India, a new law called the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2005.
Under Section 3, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, any act of the respondent will account to domestic violence if it:
- Endangers the mental or physical health, life, or safety of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and cause physical, sexual, verbal and emotional, and economic abuse; or
- Harasses or harms the aggrieved person to pressurize her or any of her relatives and friends to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry, property, or any other valuable security; or
- Has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or
- Otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
- The Act includes and defines physical violence and other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
Under the domestic violence act 2005, the aggrieved person is defined as “any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to domestic violence by the respondent.”
Who is Covered Under the Act?
- Any woman may be a mother, sister, wife, widow, or partner living in the same household. The relationship can be marriage or adoption or family members living together as a joint family. However, any female relative of the male partner cannot file a complaint against the female partner.
Who can file a Complaint?
- Any person may file a complaint on behalf of any woman who faces domestic Violence
- Under the Domestic Violence Act, a child is also entitled to relief. The child’s mother can make an application on behalf of her minor child (male or female).
Against whom can a Complaint be filed?
- Any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the woman
- Relatives of the husband or the male partner
- Includes both male and female relatives of the male partner
To whom a Complaint can be made?
- The aggrieved person can file a complaint to a police officer/Protection Officer/Service provider (an NGO) or Magistrate.
Lack of gender sensitization, misogyny, patriarchal attitudes, and lack of healthy relationship models are the most common reasons for violence against women. However, this law provides civil remedies to the victims to counter domestic violence specific terms, and their interpretation needs to develop. The Act falls short in providing relief to the male members in the community subjected to domestic violence is one of the areas where the law falls short. Therefore, more laws against domestic violence should be enacted to prevent these offenses.