By Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar, Central University of Bihar, Gaya.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE — WHAT THE TERM ACTUALLY MEANS

“Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviours

used by one person in a relationship to control the other.

partners may be married or not married ;heterosexual, gay

or lesbian; living together or separated or dating.” [i]

Domestic violence is towards someone who you are in relationship with be it wife, husband, son, daughter, mother ,father, grandfather, or any other family member.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, domestic violence is: “the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also a repeated or habitual pattern of such behavior.”[ii]

DEFINITION UNDER INDIAN LAW  

Section 3 of the Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act , 2005 defines domestic violence as any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent constitutes domestic violence in case it  harms , injures or endangers the health, safety, life, mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or causes physical, sexual, verbal , emotional and economic abuse to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry.

WHEN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TURNS INTO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Domestic violence when turns gender based and when pre dominantly includes a male’s atrocities towards a female it becomesDOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN”.

                     This violence can be against any woman in relation not particularly wife , the victim may be the person’s mother, daughter , mother-in-law , grandmother or aunt. But now a days the case which is on rise is the victimisation of a wife by husband and in- laws for reasons like dowry demands , refusal to fulfill sexual demands and not being able to produce a male child. The linked crimes which arise out of this menace are dowry death , bride burning, female foeticide and infanticide and many more.

UNO defines domestic violence against women as:

“Gender biased violence that results in physical , sexual or psychological harm, suffering including threats.” [iii]

TYPES OF VIOLENCE IN INDIA

WEAVE (WOMEN EVERYWHERE ADVOCATING VIOLENCE ELIMINATION) identifies 5 types of domestic violence.[iv] All of these types of abuse are done for the purpose of gaining power and control over the victim. These may be inflicted in combinations or separately.

(a) Physical abuse : It is the use of physical force against another person in a way that ends up injuring the person or puts the person at risk of being injured.

(b)Emotional abuse: It can be verbal or non-verbal . It may be in form of calling names or criticizing the victim. It may be non-verbal as the other party making all decisions on behalf of the other leaving no say of the victim.

(c)Financial abuse: It include withholding resource , stealing from the victim or using the victim’s name to incur debt.

(d)Sexual abuse: It is often linked to physical abuse. They may occur together , or the sexual abuse may occur after a bout of physical abuse.

(d)Spiritual abuse: It is anything which comes in way of one’s doing something or feeling good about oneself. The victim is not allowed to practice her moral, cultural or religious beliefs and is forced to give up things that are important to her.

JUDICIAL CASES RELATED TO DOWRY DEATH AND RELATED JUDGMENT

In the case of Pawan Kumar & Ors v state of Haryana[v] the deceased Urmila was burnt for dowry demand. She had earlier gone with complaints of maltreatment and putdowns to her parents but subsequently succumbed to a household quarrel and following so called accidental fire. In his judgement A.P.Mishra J observed that:

For more than a century, inspite of tall words of respect for women, there has been an onslaught on their liberties through `bride burning’ and `dowry deaths’. This has caused anxiety to the legislators, judiciary and law enforcing agencies, who have attempted to resurrect them from this social choke. There have been series of legislations in this regard, without much effect. This led to the passing of Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961. Inspite of this, large number of `brides burning’ and dowry deaths continued”

In State Of Punjab v Iqbal Singh And Ors [vi] Ahmadi J. decided the case where a woman set ablaze herself and her three children due to the exceeding dowry demand, beating from the in laws and marital discord. It was decided in the case that even if the husband drives the woman to circumstances that make her take a drastic step such as ending her life and if there is any involvement whatsoever of the in laws of the deceased the husband and the in laws are both held responsible. It was held that:

If a married woman is subjected to cruelty of harassment by her husband or his family members section 498- A, IPC would be attracted. If such cruelty or harassment was inflicted by the husband or his relative for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry immediately preceding death by burns and bodily injury or in abnormal circumstances within seven years of marriage, such husband or relative is deemed to have caused her death and is liable to be punished under section 304B IPC.”

WHAT ARE THE FORMS OF “CRUELTY” RECOGNISED BY THE COURTS?

  • Persistent denial of food,
  • Insisting on perverse sexual conduct,
  • Constantly locking a woman out of the house,
  • Denying the woman access to children, thereby causing mental torture,
  • Physical violence,
  • Taunting, demoralising and putting down the woman with the intention of causing mental torture,
  • Confining the woman at home and not allowing her normal social intercourse,

LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENTS

PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT , 2005: It is an Act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.[vii]

THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT 1961 :[viii]

  • Section 3 of the Act provides   Penalty for giving or taking dowry as any person who gives or takes shall be punishable with imprisonment extending to six months, fine extending to five thousand rupees, or both.
  • Section 4 of the Act provides for   penalty for demanding dowry that anyone who demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom

PROVISIONS OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE ,1973[ix]:

  • Section 125 and 126 of the CrPC provide for order for maintenance of wives , children and parents and its related procedure respectively.
  • Section 174 of CrPC provides for the power of police to enquire and report on suicide,   It also holds that when the case involves suicide, death or suspicion of death of offence by other person relating to woman within seven years of her marriage such police officer is prescribed in this behalf forward the body, with a view to its being examined, to the nearest Civil Surgeon.

PROVISIONS OF THE INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT , 1872[x]:

  • Section 113-A of Indian Evidence Act provides for Presumption as to abatement of suicide by a married woman.-
  • Section 113-B of Indian evidence act provides for Presumption as to dowry death.

PROVISIONS OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE , 1860[xi] :

  • Section 304-B of Indian Penal Code provides definition of Dowry death. It further defines punishment for the crime as whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

In 1983, domestic violence was recognised as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code

  • Section 498-A of IPC. defines cruelty by Husband or relative of husband of a woman and states punishment of a term three years and fine.

Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:

  • conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
  • conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
  • harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
  • harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for    more money or does not give some property.

REMEDIES FOR THE NUISANCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: A CONCLUSIVE NOTE

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In the present scenario strict and stringent steps need to be taken out against the growing evil of domestic violence. Until and unless a woman raises her voice loud against the crime it is not possible to curb the abuse. But only the women’s initiative is not enough , it must be supported by laws , rules , regulations, and various supportive initiatives by the NGOs as well as governmental organisations.

Some of the steps( as per my rationalization) which can be taken to mitigate the rising crime of domestic violence can be:

(a) studies on prevalence , risk and protection factors as well as health consequences need to be carried out;

(b) basic support system needs to be established which may include:

  1. immediate medical assistance to the victim
  2. counseling
  3. shelter and emotional support
  4. reference to medical workers and women’s organisation
  5. legislation and legal cells

(c) police needs to be more sensitive in handling domestic violence cases and must take them as seriously as any other crime.

(d) authorities should take steps to recognize domestic violence as public health issue .

(e) a crisis support cell needs to be established in all major government and private hospitals with trained medical social workers.

(f) training programmes must be organized for health professionals in order to develop their skills to provide basic support to the abused.

Together if we come forward and raise our voices against this crime, it can and definitely will be nipped off from its root. We must take an oath to truncate the evil from our motherland only then would we be able to say “women are goddesses in India”

References:

[i] http://www.domesticviolence.org/definition/, Retrieved 24th May 25, 2014 09:30 p.m. IST

[ii] Domestic Violence. Merriam Webster. Retrieved 14 May. 2014.

[iii] UNO 1993

[iv] www.weaveinc.org/types-domestic-violence, Retrieved 24th May 25, 2014 09:30 p.m. IST

[v] Decided on 9 February 1998, Bench CJI, A.P.Mishra J.

[vi] AIR 1991 SC 1532

[vii] NewDehi, the 14thSeptember 2005/Bhadra,23, 1927

[viii] ACT NO. 28 OF 1961

[ix] Act 2 of 1974

[x] Act 1 of 1872

[xi] Act 45 of 1860

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