Nagpur: Domestic violence was first recognized as a punishable offence in India in 2005 with the passing of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA). A significant focus of domestic violence against women in India has been on dowry-related harassment. Dowry is the transfer of goods, money and/or property from the bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage, initially meant to provide funds to women who were unable to inherit family property. Dowry is very prevalent in India, and it has propagated domestic violence as means to extract money or property from the bride and her family. While earlier sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalized only dowry-related domestic violence, PWDVA expanded legal recourse for domestic violence beyond dowry harassment 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.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5 is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, and the two indicators of progress towards this are the rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner violence.The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated a 26% prevalence of IPV in ever-married/partnered women aged 15 years or more globally in 2018, and this prevalence is higher at 35% for southern Asia region in which India falls The self-reported domestic violence (majority by an intimate partner) in any form is reported between 33 to 41% among ever-married women from India. Furthermore, the suicide death rate among women in India was reported to be twice the global rate, and housewives account for the majority of suicide deaths, the reasons for which are documented as “Personal/Social”.
According to the Crime in India Report 2018, published by the National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB), a crime is recorded against women in India every 1.7 minutes and a woman is subjected to domestic violence every 4.4 minutes. It also topped the categories of violence against women according to the report. As per the data, 89,097 cases related to crimes against women were registered across India in 2018, higher than the 86,001 cases registered in 2017.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 2015-16 highlighted that 30 percent of women in India between the ages of 15-49 have experienced physical violence. The report suggests that among married women experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, an alarming 83 percent list their husbands as the main perpetrators, followed by abuse from their husbands’ mothers (56 percent), fathers (33 percent), and siblings (27 percent).
These statistics don’t capture the data on violence against women in its entirety. This is primarily due to the prevalence of orthodox social norms and the stigma that is placed on survivors of sexual or domestic violence, resulting in cases being grossly underreported. Women also feel unsafe while approaching the police, because they worry that if their partners are arrested, they may face worse abuse once they are released, and in the interim, might face harassment from their in-laws or others.
Laws for Domestic violence
There are three laws prevailing in India that directly deal with the domestic violence against women. These laws inhibit the abuse endured by women under the domestic premises as well as the social environment. Those three laws are
1.Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
This law was made to protect women from domestic violence including physical emotional, financial or sexual abuse. This law is not only entitled to harassment from married partners but also from mother, grandmother, mother in law or any relatives inside the home. Via this law, women can seek protection from any torture and can also demand any compensation or financial support in case she is living apart.
This law is to primarily emphasize the protection of women from harassment domestically and not to be enforced criminally. The magistrate can issue a protection order under the Act and decree the abuser not to contact the victim under any circumstances.
2. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
The dowry prohibition act was issued in India due to growing suicides and assaults resulting from giving and taking dowry. The law primarily prohibits giving and taking of dowry in any form including money, gold, and properties. The act of giving dowry by the marrying parties is considered under the dowry prohibition act. This law is a criminal law under which the abuser is punished considering the circumstances.
Punishment for giving or taking dowry
o Punishable with imprisonment for years not less than five
o Fine of value not less than 15,000 or the value of dowry offered or taken.
Punishment for demanding dowry
o Punishable with imprisonment for not less than six months and can extend up to two years depending upon the understanding of case sensitivity by the court.
o Fine of value up to 10,000
o Interdict on the advertisement if any publishers issue the consideration of dowry from anyone.
3.Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code
This law is to protect women from abuse from her husband or in-laws under any circumstances including driving her to commit suicide or causing any injury to herself because of the mental pressure and stress. This law also includes the torture from mentioned people due to the failure in herself, property abduction, or valuable assets. This is also a criminal law under which the abuser is subjected to a penalty under the act.
1.Fine not less than 10,000
2. Punishable with imprisonment for not less than 3 years.
3. Non-bailable offense.
Domestic violence is growing rapidly in society even though it is recognized as an evil act by law. Domestic violence gets established when the victim believes that the violence faced is entirely normal and acceptable. When she starts to justify the action as not being reported, the issue gets worse than before. Domestic violence can be brought to an end only when the victim makes a move to bring the abuser to the front.
Recently men’s rights activists scored a significant victory in India when the Supreme Court essentially identified them as the victims in domestic violence cases. The judges weren’t making the law gender-neutral, however. They stated that Indian women were filing inaccurate claims of domestic violence. In today’s scenario it is much less to say that most of the men are being the victims of domestic violence by their wives. It is very shameful to say this but many cases are filed where the women are using the prevailing law as a weapon. These things are going highway in the view of the public in large and one should not use bylaws for their own gain.
“Most of such complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues”. It went on to state that women were not visualizing the “implications and consequences” of registering a criminal complaint against their abusive husbands. “Uncalled for arrest may ruin the chances of settlement” and because of this sometimes the victims are turned up to be a culprit in this country.