Domestic violence (also known as domestic abuse or spousal abuse) occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another. Domestic violence often refers to violence between spouses, or spousal abuse but can also include cohabitants and non-married intimate partners. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures; people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexes and classes can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by both men and women.
DEFINATIONS AS PER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 2005
Any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it -
(a) Harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
(b) harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
(c) has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
Explanation I.-For the purposes of this section,-
(i) “physical abuse” means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;
(ii) “sexual abuse” includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;
(iii) “verbal and emotional abuse” includes-
(a) insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule especially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and
(b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
(iv) “economic abuse” includes- (a) deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;
(b) disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which
the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person;
(c) prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the
aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship
including access to the shared household.
FORMS OF ABUSES
Domestic violence can take the form of physical violence, including direct physical
violence ranging from unwanted physical contact to rape and murder. Indirect physical
violence may include destruction of objects, striking or throwing objects near the victim,
or harm to pets. In addition to physical violence, spousal abuse often includes mental or
emotional abuse, including verbal threats of physical violence to the victim, the self, or
others including children, ranging from explicit, detailed and impending to implicit and
vague as to both content and time frame, and verbal violence, including threats, insults,
put-downs, and attacks. Nonverbal threats may include gestures, facial expressions, and
body postures. Psychological abuse may also involve economic and/or social control,
such as controlling the victim’s money and other economic resources, preventing the
victim from seeing friends and relatives, actively sabotaging the victim’s social
relationships, and isolating the victim from social contacts.
Physical violence is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing
injury, harm, disability, or death, for example, hitting, shoving, biting, restraint, kicking,
or use of a weapon.
It is divided into three categories
* Use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her
will, whether or not the act is completed;
* Attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the
nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate
unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of underage immaturity, illness,
disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or
* Abusive sexual contact.
Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include
humiliating the victim privately or publicly, controlling what the victim can and cannot
do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the
victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family,
implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses
independence or happiness, or denying the victim access to money or other basic
resources and necessities.
Women who are being emotionally abused often feel as if they do not own themselves;
rather, they may feel that their significant other has nearly total control over them.
Women undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at
increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Economic abuse is when the abuser has complete control over the victim’s money and
other economic resources. Usually, this involves putting the victim on a strict
“allowance,” withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until
the abuser gives them some money. It is common for the victim to receive less money as
the abuse continues. This also includes (but is not limited to) preventing the victim from
finishing education or obtaining employment, or intentionally squandering or misusing
RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Indian lawyers collectively drafted a Bill on domestic violence in 1992 and circulated it
widely in all women’s organizations and groups. In 1994, The National commission for
women (NCW) came out with the draft of its bill, which met with intense criticism by
various women’s organizations.
Most of the women’s groups were unanimously vocal in articulating the need for a law
against domestic violence by this time. They identified, that half of India faces the threat
of typical gender based violence. It was also recognized that the existing criminal laws
were proving inadequate, in meeting the needs of Indian women. Subsequently, the
lawyers collective came out with its copy of a law on domestic violence in 1999, after a
nation wide consultation with various women’s group. Following this the government of
India introduced a bill on domestic violence in the Lok Sabha. The Bill was titled ‘The
Protection from Domestic violence Bill 2001’.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this bill both domestically and
internationally in terms of its implications and reach. Indian judiciary has created a kind
of social revolution in India by revising the loop holes in the bill, and bringing it into
effect – in its latest form. This new law is a landmark in an attempt to protect women
against domestic violence. The new domestic violence bill extends to ban dowry related
harassment by way of dowry demands. The law has specially proved effective, because it
gives sweeping powers to a magistrate to grant protection orders in such cases.
In spite of the enormity of the problems related to crimes against women in India, there
was no specific legislation to control the threat of abuse or actual abuse for women in
their homes. The new domestic violence bill attempts to meet this vacuum by including
“actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether sexual, physical, economic or emotional. The
law is specially designed to offer protection to wives or live-in-partners, from violence
perpetrated by husbands and in-laws – or live-in-partners and relatives of live-in-partners.
Punishment ranges from a fine up to 20,000 to a jail term up to one year. This landmark
new law, offering protection to Indian women against domestic violence – has become
fully functional in India.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 2005
The DVA provides the scope for protective injunctions against violence, dispossession
from the matrimonial home and alternate residence. It also provides the scope for
claiming economic protection, including maintenance. The wide definition of domestic
violence – physical, mental, economical and sexual – brings under its purview the
invisible violence suffered by a large section of women and entitles them to claim
protection from the courts.
While this is a major victory, the reliefs by themselves are not new or path breaking.
They were available to women under the civil law regime. An astute lawyer could obtain
an injunction against dispossession or secure maintenance for a destitute wife and her
minor children. But the new statute provides legal recognition to the problem faced by
millions of women in our country and will lead to a greater awareness of this issue among
the judiciary. A judge called upon to provide relief to a woman under the new Act is
bound not just by the provisions of the Act but the ideological framework, which
underscores the enactment. There is greater credence and acceptability to women’s
The Act has also defined Physical Violence very comprehensively, as:
* Any kind of bodily harm or injury
* A threat of bodily harm
* Beating, slapping and hitting.
Thus, physical violence is defined as any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to
cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health, or an act that impairs the health
or development of the person aggrieved, or that includes assault, criminal intimidation
and criminal force.
But violence against women is not always physical. For the first time, the law has
expanded the definition to include sexual, verbal and economic violence.
Under the law, Sexual Violence will include:
* Forced sexual encounter
* Forcing a woman to look at pornography or any obscene pictures
* Any act of sexual nature to abuse, humiliate or degrade a woman’s’ integrity.
The new law is also tough on men who subject women to name calling or verbal abuse.
While Verbal Violence is often trivialized as unimportant, observers say it can damage a woman’s self-esteem
The Act defines Verbal Violence as:
# Name calling
# Any kind of accusation on a woman’s character or conduct
# Insults for not bringing dowry
# Preventing a woman from marrying a person of her choice
# Any form of threat or insults for not producing a male child.
Another significant step has been to recognize Economic Violence. Under the Act,
Economic Violence is:
# Not providing money, food, clothes, medicines
# Causing hindrance to employment opportunities
# Forcing a woman to vacate her house
# Not paying rent.
As is apparent the inclusion of economic violence is a very forward-thinking and important part of this definition. The deprivation of economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved woman or child is entitled under law or custom, or which the person aggrieved requires out of necessity, can be claimed under the provisions of this law; withholding such resources now falls under the category of economic abuse. This provision comes into play in instances of marital disputes, where the husband tends to deprive the wife of necessary money as a weapon. The law also sees a husband who sells off his wife’s jewellery and assets as being guilty of economic abuse. The landmark case of domestic violence i.e. S. R. BATRA AND ANR. V. SMT. TARUNA BATRA.
The aforementioned case says that respondents i.e. Taruna Batra was married to son of appellants. After the marriage respondent and her husband were staying in a house
owned by husband’s mother. Husband filed a divorce petition against the respondent.
Smt. Taruna Batra filed an F.I.R. under Sections 406/498A/506 and 34 of the Indian
Penal Code and got her father-in-law, mother-in-law, her husband and married sister-in-law arrested by the police and they were granted bail only after three days. She shifted to her parents’ house. She was prohibited to enter the house of the appellant. She filed a suit for mandatory injunction to enable her to enter the house. Trial court granted her temporary injunction. On appeal, senior civil judge dismissed the injunction. Respondent filed a petition under article 227 of the constitution. Single judge held that she had a right to reside in that house and respondent should be allowed to enter her matrimonial home. It was held, wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household, a ‘shared household’ would only mean house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or house which belongs to joint family of which husband is a member —
House in question belonged to mother in law of Respondent and not to Respondent’s
husband — Respondent could not claim any right in said house — Appeal allowed
Family Alternative accommodation — Section 19 (1)(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 — Held, claim for alternative accommodation can only be made against husband and not against in-laws or other relatives. In view of the above, the appeal is allowed. The impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside and the order of Senior Civil Judge dismissing the injunction application of Smt. Taruna Batra is upheld. No costs.
“When Domestic Abuse Plays a Role in Your Case,
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