A woman for her entire life is told that she will never be “settled” unless and until she is married, no amount of success is enough for her to be “settled” but marriage. Even in their childhood its fed to them by princesses with their promise of happily ever after. But for most women that happily ever after doesn’t come after marriage, it is the beginning of a nightmare they never asked for, Domestic Violence.
The National Family Health Survey issued by the Union Health Ministry stated that 31% of married women faced sexual, physical or mental abuse from their partner/spouse but the major concern is that only 10% of women report about the abuse against them. These numbers have increased since the lockdown happened in 2020. In 2020, between March 25 and May 31, 1,477 accusations of domestic violence were made by women. More complaints were received between March and May alone than in the previous 10 years.
The saddest part about this is that most women facing this problem don’t seek help because of social stigma, because of that same old question “what will people say”. As a society, we are still stuck questioning the victim rather than apprehending the culprit. Women can’t speak up against the violence against them because of the shame and questioning people put them through. Questions like “Why is she breaking her marriage like that? Why didn’t she say something earlier? Why doesn’t she just adjusts?”. This charade of victim-blaming never stops. Unfortunately, this leads to some women going into depression and then some women committing suicide. But remedies are there in law to help these women fight against the violence and punish their perpetrators.
Laws Against Domestic Violence: THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT,2005:-
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. This Act was implemented to help women who are facing abuse at home. Couples in a live-in relationship are also included in this Act but some criteria have to be passed for a couple to be called a live-in couple. Section 3 of this Act defines Domestic Violence as,
- Harms or damages health, safety, limbs ( body organs), life or/and mental and physical well being of a woman. Such abuse can be physical, sexual, economic, verbal and emotional.
- Harms harasses, injures or threatens the aggrieved person to coerce her or any of her family members to meet unlawful demands like dowry.
- Causes any other physical and mental injury to the aggrieved person.
There is a procedure provided in this Act to help women:
Step 1: Informing the protection officer
Any person who has ground to believe that domestic violence has been or is possible to be inflicted upon her can notify about the same to a protection officer appointed under Section 8(1) of the Act. It would be better if such a protection officer is a woman herself.
Step 2: Making a domestic incident report by the protection officer
Upon receipt of domestic violence complaints, the protection officer must make a domestic incident report to the Magistrate. This report should also demand aid for a protection order if the aggrieved person seeks. Such magistrate ( to whom the report is made) would be Magistrate of 1st class or the metropolitan magistrate who is exercising jurisdiction in the area where:
- The aggrieved person lives momentarily,
- Respondent lives, or
- The place where domestic violence allegedly took place.
Step 3: Application with the magistrate
Once an application is filed to the magistrate on by the aggrieved person, someone on the side of the aggrieved person or a protection officer, the magistrate will decide the date of the first hearing. Such a date is usually not exceeding three days from the date of receipt of an application by the magistrate. Also, the magistrate will attempt to dispose of the application made within 60 days from the first hearing.
Step 4: Notice to the respondent
Once the date of the first hearing has been set by the magistrate, an intimation shall be given to the protection officer who shall notify the informant and any other person, prescribed by the magistrate. This shall be done by the protection officer within 2 days from the date of receipt unless an extension is given by the magistrate.
Step 5: Other options that the magistrate can make use of
- Under Section 14 of the Act, the magistrate may ask the respondent or the aggrieved party (singly or jointly) to undergo counselling with a member of the service provider. Such a person must have expertise in counselling.
- Under Section 15 of the Act, the magistrate can take the help of a person, rather a woman, for performing his duties. Such a person should preferably be working in the improvement of family welfare.
Step 6: Giving Orders
- If after hearing both the parties, the magistrate is convinced that domestic violence took place, the magistrate can pass a protection order in support of the aggrieved party.
- The magistrate may also relinquish the Residence Order i.e Restrict the respondent from dispossessing or distributing the possessions of the aggrieved person, direct the respondent to remove himself from the shared household, restrain the respondent or any of his relatives from intruding the shared household of the parties where the aggrieved person resides, Restrain the respondent from relinquishing his rights in the shared household, restrain the respondent from disposing of the shared home.
- Monetary Relief
- The magistrate may also grant the care of a child or children to the aggrieved person or person appealing from her side.
- Compensation Orders
Step 7: Steps to take in case of breach of the order given
In case the respondent breaches the protection order given by the magistrate, he shall be responsible under this Act. He shall be liable with:
- Punishment up to a term prolonging to one year, or
- Fine ( at maximum 20,000 Rupees).
Domestic Violence is an evil that has to be curbed. No person should ever live in fear for their life neither should they be forced to be in a toxic relationship. A relationship should be built on mutual respect and trust, both the partners should feel comfortable with each other but how will that be possible if one of them is exercising dominance over the other and projecting them with violence/abuse. Hitting your partner and saying its a form of affection is not OK.
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