Domestic Violence in India

 A Progressive Perspective

In India, more than 30% of women have been subjected to domestic violence at some point in their lives, per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data. Yet, nearly 75% of those who reported being subjected to domestic violence did not seek help from anyone. For those who do, by confiding in close family members, the crime often gets brushed off as a private or family matter that doesn’t require outside, legal intervention.[1]

But this is not another article chronicling how bad it is for women in this country. The purpose of this article is to lay a basic foundation in raising awareness towards the lack of legal rights for men and transgender people. 

We shall be focusing on Domestic law in India, which goes by the title The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005. This is an expansive and subjective law laying out multiple provision in order to protect the rights and the dignity of women living in a shared household in India. This law protects women by giving the state the authority and competent jurisdiction in the case of domestic abuse which has been defined in great detail in the act.

The act when it came into power in 2005 defined the oppressor as an “adult male”. This could be any male living in the shared household that was (i) an adult (ii) a male. It was later found in the landmark judgment of Hiral P. Harsora v. Kusum Narottamdas Harsora that this definition of the perpetrator was violative of the fundamental rights.

Justice Nariman, in his landmark judgment held that the words “ adult male” in section 2(q) should stand deleted since these words were violative of the principles of article14. Of the constitution of India.

The court held that such violence is gender-neutral, thus an offense wherein the abuse can be meted out to the victim by a woman in the shared household as well. The court in its judgment talked about how the male in the household could affront the female and absolve themselves of punishment for the offense, defeating the purpose of the act.

This judgment came on 6th October 2016. With the question of the perpetrator being gender-neutral decided upon, it can only be assumed that the next step towards progressive laws would be making the definition of victims be gender neutral as well, bringing males, and transgender people into the ambit of the law. That would bring parity among the sexes, as envisioned by art.14 of the constitution of India.

This article in no way assumes, that the domestic violence law is erroneous in law or is violative of fundamentals rights of more than half the adult population in India but only tries to bring in awareness and a gentle nudge towards more inclusive laws, bringing parity among the sexes. Giving men and transgenders the right to seek the support of the state when they are victims of abuse in a shared household is a step in the right direction and such measures should be supported.


Aishwarya Says:

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