The literal meaning of the word domestic violence basically means any violent or aggressive behaviour of any person within the home as the word here is ‘domestic’ or in other words a violent quarrel between a couple which may force a female spouse to file for mental harassment basically under domestic violence act and other provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Basically from ages, domestic violence has been committed against women but in today’s scenario men can also file for domestic violence which can come under the category of domestic abuse, family violence basically arising in the relationships such as marriage including relationships with family members, family friends etc. and it can be in various forms such as physical aggressions, sexual abuse, emotional abuses etc.
What constitutes domestic violence
Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 states that what constitutes domestic violence according to which domestic violence shall include: -
(a) Threats to health, safety, life etc, whether mental or physical, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
(b) Harassmentthrough any forms such as harms, injuries to the aggrieved person by coercing her or any other person related to any unlawful demand for dowry or other property or valuable security; or
(c) Otherwise injuring or causing harm, through physical or mental means to the aggrieved person.
Against whom domestic violence can be filed
In the present day scenario, complaint can be filed against any adult male member who is in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act including the other family members such as mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law etc. or any relative of the husband or male partner. But in a recent judgement of 2010 in the case of Kusum Lata Sharma vs State & Anr, the Bombay High court held that a sister cannot file a complaint against her brother's wife, or her own sister. A mother-in-law if subjected to domestic violence by daughter-in-law cannot file a case against her daughter-in-law however she can file a complaint case against her son mentioning the name of the daughter-in-law as the agent of her son.
Punishment against Domestic Violence
- There are various regulations or provisions being made for protection of women against domestic violence under the statute such as Sec.304B of IPC pertaining to dowry death.
- Under section 313-316 of IPC female infanticide has been made punishable which means forcefully terminating the pregnancy of a women.
- Other sections of IPC dealing with these issues are section 305-306 related to abetment of suicide and 340,349 of IPC respectively wrongful confinement and wrongful restraint.
- A complaint can also be filed under section 498A of IPC for cruelty which also falls under domestic violence.
Is domestic violence gender neutral
Yes, domestic violence can be said to be gender neutral in India because according to the research and studies it is clear that the number of men and women who commit violence toward each other is equal with respect to the analysis of these studies but apart from this it has also been found out that women are more likely to report act of violence then men in India. The reason for the violence both in men and women are different as men turn into violent when they feel a sense of powerlessness such as when they are not able to overcome what they want and women turn violent when they are frustrated or do not get their spouse’s attention.Hence it can be said that men and women are both the victims of domestic violence and hence an inclusive approach must be taken to help families resolve conflict.
What a victim of domestic violence should do
- Call 100 or 1091(women emergency helpline number) and report it to the concerned authority.
- If possible write down the police report or incident number and keep with your records.
- One can seek medical attention if required.
- One can move to domestic violence shelter as stated under section 6 of protection of women from Domestic Violence act, 2005.
- Seek the support of caring people on whom you have trust or who would keep your privacy such as a friend, a family member, a neighbour etc. So that they could act as a witness in your bad times.
- One should have the safety plan to protect herself from daily violence.
- File for protection order as stated under section 18 of Domestic Violence act so that the abuser can stay away from you.
One can also seek help of the below mentioned NGO’s if he or she wants, contact details are mentioned below: -
STD CODE: 011
- ALL INDIA WOMEN’S CONFERENCE – 23381165
- JWP JOINT WOMEN’S PROGRAMME – 24314821
- STREEBAL – 26164113
- SHAKTI SHALINI – 24312483
- SAKSHI - 24643946, 24623295
Safeguards against misuse of law(Section 498A)
- Women NGO’S should try to investigate the case properly without any biasness toward women and must try to discourage women not to file any complaint against the in-laws just for trivial matters.
- Family counselling centres must be established across the country to help harassed men and his family members so that their side of the story should also be put in front of the government.
- Definition of mental cruelty under section 498A should be elaborated so that there may be provisions for men also to file a case of mental cruelty against his wife.
- To reduce the misuse of this section, civil authorities must be appointed to investigate the case first and then cognizance must be taken.
- Section 498A must be made bailable as due to its non-bailable nature, old parents, children and other family members also suffer without any fault.
- Penalty must be charged against false accusations made by the wife against the husband.
Image Credits: http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/india/domestic-violence-time-for-women-to-stand-up
THIS BLOG IS WRITTEN BY "ARJIT NARENDRA SRIVASTAVA"
GALGOTIAS SCHOOL OF LAW, GREATER NOIDA
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