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Sansad TV: Acts & Facts- The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

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Introduction:

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 formatters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Violence against women- definition:

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Domestic violence:

  • Causing hurt, injury or danger to life, limb, health, safety or well-being, whether mental or physical.
  • Causing harm, injury, or danger to the woman with an intention to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any demand for dowry.
  • “Physical abuse” includes hurt of any kind. Assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force.
  • “Sexual abuse” such as conduct of a sexual nature such as forced sexual intercourse, forcing the aggrieved person to watch pornography or other obscene material. Forcibly using woman to entertain others, any other act of sexual nature, abusing, humiliating, degrading or otherwise violative of one’s dignity.
  • “Verbal and emotional abuse” such as Accusation/aspersion on character or conduct. Insult for not brining dowry, Insult for not having a male child. etc.
  • “Economic abuse” such as not providing money for maintaining woman or her children Not providing food, clothes, medicine. etc, Forcing woman out of the house.

Who is covered under the Act?

  • The Act covers all women who may be mother, sister, wife, widow or partners living in a shared household. The relationship may be in nature of marriage or adoption. In addition relationships with family members living together as a joint family are also included. However, no female relative of the husband or the male partner can file a complaint against the wife or the female partner, for e.g. the mother-in-law cannot file an application against a daughter-in-law, but she can file an application against her daughter-in-law for abetting her son to commit violence against her.

Important observations made by the Court:

  • Despite the 2005 law, offences against women is “rampant” in this country and they face “violence in some form or the other on almost every day”.
  • A woman resigns her fate to the never ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner or a single woman in her lifetime.
  • Non-retaliation by women against violence, coupled with the absence of laws addressing women’s issues, ignorance of the existing laws enacted for them and societal attitude makes them vulnerable.

Who can file a complaint?

  • Any woman who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the offender or any person may file a complaint on her behalf
  • A child is also entitled to relief under the Domestic Violence Act. The mother of such a child can make an application on behalf of her minor child (whether male or female). In cases where the mother makes an application to the court for herself, the children can also be added as co-applicants.

Against whom can a complaint be filed?

  • Any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the woman
  • Relatives of the husband or the male partner
  • Includes both male and female relatives of the male partner

To whom can information be given or complaint be made?

  • Information may be given arid complaint can be made to a police officer/Protection Officer/Service provider (an NGO) or Magistrate.

Provision for shelter home and Medical Aid

An aggrieved person or on her behalf a Protection Officer or service provider can request to a person in charge of a shelter home or a medical facility to provide shelter or medical aid to her.

Who may file an application to the magistrate?

  • An aggrieved person or
  • A Protection Officer or
  • Any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person may present an application to the magistrate
  • It is the duty of the protection officer and the service provider to provide all assistance to the woman who is a victim of domestic violence.

Way Forward:

  • We need to provide children with greater parental guidance.
  • In families, there should also be a relationship of authority and respect between parents and their children.
  • Women should be respected at home. When women are respected at home, then children also learn about the importance of respecting women. Parents cannot treat their sons and daughters differently.
  • People should be made about Zero FIR.
  • The state has to work towards making people aware of laws like POCSO Act, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act etc. The state should also make the penalties of not abiding by these laws clear to the public.
  • Gender-sensitization programmes should also be started for males of family, police personnel, medical fraternity etc. Police apathy, especially when a woman approaches the police should be worked upon.
  • Encourage and adopt family focused practices that promote equal access for both girls and boys to high quality education, and ensure opportunities to successfully complete schooling, and to making educational choices