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Domestic Violence Laws In India

Introduction

In rural Haryana, India, researchers conducted a cross-sectional study on gender-based violence against men. A year’s worth of data was collected throughout this investigation in 2012. A total of 1000 married males between the ages of 21 and 49 were questioned using a modified conflict strategies scale in this community-based, cross-sectional research that used multistage random sampling. The outcomes, on the other hand, were unexpected. Gender-based violence was experienced by 52.4% of the males in this research. 51.5 percent of men out of 1000 had been abused by their wives/intimate partners at least once in their lives, with 10.5 percent experiencing it in the recent 10 months.  Emotional abuse was the most frequent kind of domestic and family violence, with 51.6% of cases, followed by physical abuse (6%).[1]

Abuse by a spouse affects both men and women equally. For the most part, society has presupposed or anticipated that males are strong, powerful, and they tend to keep their feelings bottled up within. People call them weak or girly if they exhibit or disclose their weaknesses, and other harsh words are thrown their way.

In India, males are victims of gender-based violence just as often as women are. Because most victims of domestic violence are women, there is a widespread misconception that this kind of abuse is only experienced by women. India is a patriarchal or male-dominated country, despite the fact that most people would go to google to look out the definition of the term “patriarchy” if asked.

Laws shield us from harm and safeguard our civil liberties against violation by persons, groups, and even the government. To ensure our general safety, we have laws in place. It is sometimes difficult to accept that men may be victims of domestic abuse. Because the law is blind and everyone is equal before it, she can only hear what society is saying. So, the law performed its job by providing women with safety under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, often known as the Domestic Violence Act, which was enacted in 2005.

Key characteristics of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005

1. The Constitution of India has a provision in Article 15 (2) that states firmly that “the state may make particular arrangements for women and children” to achieve the right to equality. Unlike criminal law, which concentrates on punishing the guilty, the Domestic Violence laws in India is a civil law that gives remedy to the victimized women including compensation, protection, and the right to live in a “shared home,” etc. It includes all forms of abuse a woman may experience in her “shared home.”

2. It covers women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser in which both individuals have shared a home and are connected by blood, marriage, a marriage-related tie, or adoption relationships between members of a joint family who reside together are likewise addressed. Under the proposed law, women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, or who live with the offender are all entitled to protection.[2]

Domestic Violence defined

Domestic violence is defined under Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

1. Physical Abuse

i. Physical abuse includes any conduct that is physically violent, withholds physical requirements, behaves in an abstract manner that is physically damaging or threatens to do so.

ii. Disregarding one’s basic bodily requirements like sleep or food, refusing to provide money, transportation, or assistance if one is ill or wounded, or locking the victim in or out of the home are all examples of physical abuse.

iii. However, violence against women does not necessarily take the form of physical assaults on the body. The definition of domestic violence has been broadened for the first time to include sexual, verbal, and economic abuse.

2. Sexual Abuse

An act of sexual behavior that violates the dignity of a woman is defined as “sexual abuse.” Because the concept of sexual abuse is not exclusive, courts have often recognized various kinds of sexual abuse, such as forced sexual intercourse, pressure to engage in oral sex, or watching obscene films.

3. Verbal or Emotional Abuse

i. Verbal abuse includes any harsh words meant to degrade, humiliate, or threaten the victim.

ii. Anything that takes advantage of another’s weakness, fears, or character is considered emotional abuse. A few examples of these types of actions include treating another person poorly, intimidating them, manipulating them, brainwashing them, or otherwise controlling them to their disadvantage.

4. Economic Abuse

i. Even though economic abuse is not well known, it has devastating effects on women. Women who are subjected to economic abuse are often denied the financial means to support themselves and their children, which may include food, clothes, medication, and other necessities. They may also be denied the opportunity to work. Force her to leave her home and not pay her rent in the event of leased shareholdings also amounts to abusive treatment.

ii. Restricting the woman’s access to the shared home by depriving her of all or some of the economic or financial resources to which the person is entitled under the law or customs.

Constitutional Perspectives

i. The Indian Penal Code was amended in 1983 to include domestic violence as a separate criminal offense, but this did not do much to curb violence against women in the home or the family. As a result, the legislature passed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 to safeguard women from homegrown violence.

ii. On the basis of Article 253 of the Constitution, Parliament passed the law under discussion. This law gives Parliament the authority to enact laws in accordance with international treaties and agreements. Adopting The Domestic Violence Act was a result of UN proposals CEDAW’s for legislation to combat domestic violence. The Act incorporates all of General Recommendation no.19, 1992’s Specific Recommendations.

iii. The basic rights provided by Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution were taken into consideration when the Act was enacted.

iv. Article 14 establishes equal rights for all people. To put it another way, it shows that everyone is treated equally under the law and equal before it. Although Section 14 prohibits class-based legislation, it does allow categorization to be used in legislation. Because it applies to some people but not others, the law does not become unconstitutional.

v. The act may be deemed constitutional if it satisfies the following two criteria

  • A logical link must exist between the difference and the goal that the law wants to achieve
  • The difference must be built on some visible characteristics.

vi. Despite the fact that Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or caste, or based on gender identity, the State may still make exceptions for some groups, such as women and children.

vii. Article 15(3) allows the State to enact such laws for the advantage of women, thus establishing an exception to the applicability of Article 15(1), Domestic Violence Act of 2005 falls under this category.

Women’s Rights and Protection

1. The right to be free from violence

i. In Munn v. Illinois[3], Justice Field said that the term “life” implies considerably more than animal existence in this context. Life’s capacity to enjoy is guarded by all of a person’s limbs and talents. And you can’t harm any organ in the body through which the soul communicates with the outer world.”

ii. In the case of Francis Coralie Mullin v. Union Territory Delhi[4], the court went with Justice Field’s thinking, saying that any conduct that damages or impairs or interferes with the use of any limb or capacity of a person mentioned, either permanently or temporarily, will be prohibited under Article 21. The definition of domestic violence, which includes physical abuse, includes this right.

iii. Additionally, the Act criminalizes acts of physical violence as defined in the Indian Penal Code, including those that are considered domestic abuse. Women’s rights are better protected under this legislation because of its broad scope.

2. Right to Live with Human Dignity

i. In the case of Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India[5], the Supreme Court ruled that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution’s right to life includes the right to live with dignity as well.

ii. Francis Coralie vs. Union Territory of Delhi established that the right to live includes the right to live with human dignity, which includes having access to the bare essentials of life such as proper nutrition, clothing, and a roof over one’s head, as well as the ability to read and write and to express oneself in a variety of ways.

3. The right to shelter

i. In Chameli Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh[6], it was determined that the right to life included the right to shelter.

ii. In Chameli Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, it was determined that the right to life included the right to shelter, differentiating the case from Gauri Shankar v. Union of India, where the issue was the eviction of a tenant under a law. The Domestic Violence Act’s Sections 6 and 17 strengthen this privilege. The Protection Officer has a responsibility under Section 6 to provide accommodation to the victim if the party does not have a place to stay, whether at the request of the victim or otherwise. Section 17 protects the victim’s right to remain in the shared home. With these safeguards, women may make use of the many protections afforded to them without fear of being made homeless.

Where the domestic violence Act fails

In the universe, nothing has just one side. Every object has two sides, no matter how small or thin they are. Carl Jung once said, “Wisdom knows that everything has two sides.”

So does this Act have another side?

i. The common belief is that India has many laws, but they are not enforced. However, the issue isn’t a lack of implementation, but rather a lack of a method for doing so. Because of this lack of knowledge and access to the courts, women are disadvantaged. As a result, not only must legislation be passed, but infrastructural tools must also be made available so that people may use them.

ii. Many women have taken advantage of this Act to drag, suffer and humiliate their husbands as well as other family members in a pointless court fight to vent their personal grudge and lay a claim on the assets owned by their spouse or in-law. It is one of the deadliest weapons that women may use against men in order to extract money and harass them.

iii. No female relative of the husband or the male partner has the authority to submit a complaint against the wife or the female partner; for example, the mother-in-law cannot file an application against a daughter-in-law, although she may file an application against her daughter-in-law for abetting her son to conduct violence against her husband.

Conclusion

The Protection of Women from Domestic Abuse Act, 2005, which went into effect in October 2006, is a highly promising piece of legislation that combines civil remedies with criminal processes to offer effective remedies to women who are victims of domestic violence. With the assistance of this legislation, aggrieved women, their families, and loved ones will be better protected from harm.

The Act, however, is not without flaws. Indeed, the Act’s implementation has to be strengthened. It was discovered by Human Rights Watch that police often fail to submit a First Information Report (FIR), which is necessary to begin a police investigation, particularly when the individual who has been wronged hails from a financially or socially disadvantaged group. Almost all instances of spousal abuse, sexual assault, and marital rape in India are never brought to justice. Domestic violence victims suffer because there aren’t enough qualified counselors to assist them and because they have limited access to legal aid. To give women the justice they deserve, problems like these must be resolved.

[1]Malik, Jagbir Singh, and Anuradha Nadda. “A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India.” Indian journal of community medicine: official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine vol. 44,1 (2019): 35-38. doi:10.4103/ijcm.IJCM_222_18

[2]Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, https://evaw-global-database.unwomen.org/fr/countries/asia/india/2006/protection-of-women-from-domestic-violence-act

[3] MANU/USSC/0207/1876

[4]MANU/SC/0517/1981

[5]MANU/SC/0133/1978

[6] MANU/SC/0286/1996

Chameli Singh and Ors. vs. State of U.P. and Ors. (15.12.1995 – SC): MANU/SC/0286/1996

This article has been written by Ashutosh, 2nd Year B.B.A LL.B student at Bennett University

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