This blog is intended to discuss the evil of domestic violence in Indian society with reference to present outbreak of cases during pandemic Covid 19. It is, therefore, pertinent to divide this piece in segments as to discuss the problem in detail. The research presents the background of domestic violence in India, laws tackling it, the current rise in cases and so on.
Background of domestic violence
The Supreme Court in Madhu Kishwar v. State of Bihar has stated that “Half of the Indian population is women. Women have always been incriminated against and have suffered and are suffering discrimination in silence. Self sacrifice and self-denial are their mobility and fortitude and yet they have been subjected to all inequities, indignities, inequality and discrimination.”
Physical violence can be defined as any action of the perpetrator used against a woman with intent to cause her a physical injury. The most common and frequently used forms of physical violence against women in our country are:
(i) Slaps; (ii) beating; (iii) pushing; (iv) Kicking; (v) throwing objects; (vi) beating with cane; (vii) burning with rod; (viii) holding with rope; (ix) Sexual coersion or assault.
Causes of Domestic Violence
There are a number of causes of domestic violence against women. These causes range from the trivial to bizarre and include mainly the following:
Nature and Forms of Domestic Violence
The domestic violence against women may be classified as under:
Domestic Violence also includes placing a woman in fear of imminent serious bodily harm by threat of force. This includes threats of violence, or other conduct that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. Psychologists are of the opinion that emotional or psychological violence is more serious than the physical violence because the wounds arising out of physical violence may heal over a period of time but the harmful effects of emotional violence last longer, sometimes lifelong.
Laws tackling domestic violence
The Act gives women the right to live a life free from violence. It protects the right to shelter in the following ways :-
Right to an order of protection:
If there is a threat of violence, the woman can get an order of protection, restraining the husband and his family members from committing violence on her. Even if she is living in her own father‘s house and if she is afraid that the husband may assault her or come to her place of work and humiliate her, she can ask for a ―stop order (injunction) to restrain him from coming anywhere near her (S.18).
Right to live in the same house:
The husband, father-in-law or even the father of a woman / girl cannot throw her out from the house where she is living or has lived (S.19).
Right to claim Maintenance:
As explained above, the woman has a right to claim maintenance under this Act (S.20)
Right to custody:
No one can take away the children from the mother, not even the father. If such a threat is there, she can go to court and get an order to protect her right. If her child is taken away forcibly from her custody she can approach the police or the court to get her child back (S.21).
Right to claim compensation:
If the woman has suffered any harm or injury due to domestic violence she has a right to claim compensation for it under the Act (S.22).
Against whom can the aggrieved woman get the orders under this Act?
A woman can get orders under this Act against her husband, father-in-law, brother-in- law etc. She can also get orders against the female relatives of the husband such as mother-in-law or sister-in-law, if they have contributed to causing domestic violence to the woman. Every woman can claim relief under this Act, irrespective of their religion, including Muslims as the Act stipulates that any woman can claim reliefs under this Act.
Is demanding dowry an offence?
Yes, it is a serious offence under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. It is punishable with a minimum of five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs.15, 000/- or equal to the value of the dowry demanded or paid.
Who can register a complaint under this Act?
The woman herself, her parents, the police, Dowry Prohibition Officer appointed under S.8-B of the Act, or even a non-governmental organization on behalf of the woman, can register a complaint.
Domestic Violence during Pandemic Covid-19
Economic Times reports that In the second week of April, the Delhi Police recorded a “total event count” of 2,446 that pertained to the “event type: women”. Put simply, nearly 2,500 women in Delhi called emergency helpline numbers which triggers the Emergency Response Support System of the state police. Of these calls over 600 were classified as “women abuse”, 23 calls reported rape, while a majority — 1612 — pertained to domestic violence. One of these calls was about a 28-year-old woman from west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar.
A Hindustan Times analysis of cases recorded across the country reveals two important aspects of the issue. One, some states have reported a decline in the number of domestic violence complaints, others have reported a spike in the calls being received by helplines. This indicates that the incidence of domestic violence during the lockdown depends upon the ability of victims to make complaints while they share domestic spaces with perpetrators. In some states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, the number of complaints received by state-run helplines has decreased. In Ghaziabad, which forms part of the National Capital Region, instances of domestic violence during the first phase of lockdown saw a decline of about 50% as compared to the pre-lockdown period in March, according to the data compiled by 18 police stations in urban and rural areas of the city.
Therefore, looking at this data makes it clear that all the laws have become redundant in tackling the menace of domestic violence. What really needs to be done is to effectively implement all the policies and make the authorities aware of their duties in a serious mode.