Women have to face many harsh things in her life. Women have been subject to harsh treatments from men and society and also from women since ages. Torture, harassment, infanticide are some of the common things that women had faced since a very long time and domestic violence is one of such cruel acts. It’s a common thing for Indian household that many women don’t even consider reporting it as they are accustomed to it.
According to a survey from ‘National Family Health Survey’ released by Union Health Ministry every third women in India faces Domestic violence in some form by the time she reaches 15. It is also reported that approx 31 % of the women faces domestic violence but what more pathetic is that only 10 % of such women reports that.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is defined in Section 3 of the ‘Domestic Violence Act 2005’. In simple words it can be defined as “any kind of abusive or violent behaviour with the spouse at home involving an aggressive behaviour”. Domestic Violence is not only limited to physical abuse of the person but it has many forms. It includes –physical assault –hitting or threats, mental assault, mental torture, sexual and emotional abuse and intimidation etc.
Till 2005 the remedies available to women were limited in this regard. They can either file a divorce in the family court or can go to the criminal court, by suing their spouse under section 498A of IPC that talks about cruelty. But in 2005 this Act came that has widened the scope of the remedies available to women in this regard. The Act has widened the purview of definition of aggrieved person by including those living in ‘live in relationship’ as well.
There are mainly 3 types of abuses covered in the Act. However in the case of Bhartiben Bipinbhai Tamboli v. State of Gujrat, the court explained the types of Domestic Violence further as –
Physical Abuse – Using any physical force against the women thereby causing hurt or injury to her comes under the act of Domestic Violence. It further includes- kicking, beating. Abandoning the victim in dangerous places, threatening to hurt, are some of the ways of physical abuse.
Sexual Abuse – If a man compels a woman to engage in any unwanted or unpleasant sexual activity, and threatens to injure her if she fails to do any such degrading sexual activity amounts to sexual abuse. It includes calling her with inappropriate sexual names and hurting her with objects.
Emotional Abuse – It means mentally harassing and torturing the other spouse by any means such as isolating, calling her names, yelling, blaming, insulting or criticising her.
Economical Abuse – Economic Abuse is when a man doesn’t provide her with enough money to maintain or sustain her or her children’s life. It includes not providing the wife with clothing, food or money, depriving her of financial resources and not allowing women to take up employment.
Effects of Domestic Violence
The survivors of domestic Violence have to face several challenges. Some are brave enough to file the case in the court, but they have to face certain repercussions from the society as well. India has always been a male dominant society and it is always considered ideal for a wife to be at her husband’s home and also considering the in-laws house as her only house. Filing a case against husband is still considered as a taboo in Indian society and thus women doing such thing are always seen as a culprit instead of a victim.
Domestic violence has grave impact on women’s physical as well as mental health.
Survivors of the domestic violence frequently face psychosomatic illness, eating disorders, insomnia, chronic pain and ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ (PTSD’s). It also causes emotional or psychological trauma in a women’s lives causing anger and shame and in turn many a time’s women end up committing suicide. Domestic Violence also has economical and financial effects on the women. Meanwhile it not only affects the victim only but also those who are connected with her, majorly her family and children. It tears the lives apart. And not only the person in total it affects the community as well.
Filing a Complaint in the Act
There are certain procedures regarding filing a complaint in the Act which are described as under –
Informing the protection officer
Section 8(1) of the Act talks about the appointment of the protection officer by the appropriate government. Aggrieved first has to inform the protection officer regarding this. It would be better if the protection officer is a woman itself.
The women would then be informed about her rights in this regard by the protection officer, police officer or magistrate etc. Some of her rights are –
a. Right to make an application obtaining relief in the form of protection order, monetary relief, compensation order etc.
b. Right to file a complaint in the criminal court under sec. 498A of IPC.
c. Right to free legal services under ‘Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.
Making a Domestic Incidence Report by Protection Officer
The Protection Officer makes such report to a magistrate of first class or metropolitan magistrate. The copies of the report should be then sent to the police officer in charge. This can be done by the aggrieved person too as per Section 12 of the Act.
Application with the Magistrate
After the filing of the application the magistrate will fix the date of first such hearing, which is usually not beyond 3 days from the date of receipt of an application by the magistrate.
Notice to the Respondent.
A notice by the protection officer will be given then to the respondent. This should be done within 2 days from the date of receipt unless the magistrate extends the date.
The Magistrate after hearing the pleadings of both the sides if comes to a conclusion that domestic violence has taken place he can come up with certain suitable orders in this regard that includes –
Protection order (Section 18 of the Act ) –Under such order the respondent is prohibited from committing domestic violence, entering the place of employment or residence of the aggrieved person, alienate any assets enjoyed by both the parties including her Stridhan, communicating with the aggrieved person.
Residence Order (Section 19)– Under this order the respondent is restrained form dispossessing or distributing the assets of the aggrieved person, and restrain the respondent from renouncing his rights in the shared household, including some other reliefs of same kind.
Monetary Relief (Section 20)– Under this section the court may prompt the person to pay monetary reliefs to the victim that includes (but not limited to)-
Loss of earnings, medical expenses, loss caused due to destruction of any property, maintenance to the aggrieved person and children.
Compensation Order (Section 21) The magistrate can direct the person (respondent ) to pay any amount as compensation to the victim under this order.
The Act proves to be a boon for the women as it combines the civil remedies and criminal remedies together thereby being very promising for the women who becomes victims of Domestic Violence. The Act although being a very promising legislation but the implementation of the Act must be more concrete as many a time the duty officers and police officers etc fails to perform their duty, refusal of filing an FIR is one such example. Therefore these acts of some people become a major loophole of the legislation.
Furthermore, the acts, legislations, etc made by government won’t be of any use if people will not use them as and when needed. We must educate people (especially women) regarding such vast rights provided to them. Many NGO’s are doing commendable jobs in this regard. But the most important thing is we must support, and provide courage to the women who are facing such things, or have faced such things in their past. We must encourage them to fight for their rights, and must help them out in every possible way.
These crimes against women can’t be stopped unless women chose to stop it.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje