Domestic Violence Act

By Bhuneshwari Devi

Crime against women come in many forms, the worst being the crime by the family members of the victim woman. National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, which includes cases of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the victim that occurs every nine minutes. As a matter of fact, around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. This all occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Domestic violence is not a unique phenomenal in our country. It is wide spread and can also be seen in most developed countries. Women of all races and caste are affected and infected with domestic violence. It really doesn’t matter if they are highly educated or illiterate this is one such thing where discrimination of any form doesn’t take place.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) was passed in 2005, but implementation of the Act itself took almost three years. The Act is very wide the scope of domestic violence is explain and accepted in many manners and forms which were earlier unheard of. The Act is very progressive in its own way but it took its own time to be accepted.

Though the act as such offered nothing new. All the component of Domestic Violence Act, can be found in other legislations like Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Hindu Succession Act and other legislations. But bringing all such provisions for the protection of women from domestic violence and also for redefining remedies to the victims of domestic violence in one legislation gives the Domestic Violence Act its special place.

The Domestic Violence Act defines violence as an abuse in any form including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic by a man living in the family in any relationship to the woman. Physical violence is the most visible form of abuse and it refers to slapping, pushing, kicking, biting, hitting, throwing objects, strangling, beating, threatening with any form of weapon, or using a weapon. Economic violence involves making or attempting to make the woman financially dependent on the abuser that may include preventing or forbidding an intimate partner from working or gaining and education, controlling the financial resources, and withholding access to economic resources.

Sexual Violence refers to the violation of an individual’s bodily integrity, including coercing sexual contact, rape, and prostitution, as well as any unwelcome sexual behaviour, including treating someone in a sexually demeaning manner or any other conduct of a sexual nature, whether physical, verbal, or non-verbal. Sexual abuse also includes behaviour which limits reproductive rights, such as preventing use of contractive methods and forcing abortion. Psychological abuse is often characterized as intimidation, threats of harm, and isolation, while emotional abuse involves undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth.

The Domestic Violence Act aims at protecting the women from domestic violence in any of these forms and also aims at providing remedies. On an application either by the aggrieved woman or by any representative of the aggrieved woman, the Magistrate can issue various orders for protection of women from domestic violence including protection order, residence order, custody order, compensation order, monetary relief and prohibition orders against the offender.

Despite of its wide nature, it is observed that the largely domestic violence is used for obtaining maintenance but it offer much more. It depends how a victim uses the law, more importantly how much she knows about the law.

The purpose of any Act is not to increase the number of offences and cases but on the contrary, to decrease it. Time will tell how much Domestic Violence Act will serve its purpose for which this legislation was enacted.

The author is a Human Rights Activist and also the President of Wooden House Society an Island based NGO which works on legal awareness, legal aid and on women empowerment.