DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Reading time : 8 minutes

INTRODUCTION:

The major concern of domestic violence is arguably one of the largest fitness and development troubles in our country. Understanding the definition of domestic violence will assist us to take extra powerful moves in opposition to many symptoms of abuse. In a few cases, the offender won’t also be conscious that he’s committing domestic violence to the opposite person. Victims, on the other hand, won’t take motion in opposition to the abuser if they’re unaware that the conduct they’re experiencing is home/domestic violence.[1]

 It is likewise essential that the victim’s friends, family and circle of relatives can assist higher once they recognize what home violence seems like. Domestic violence has existed in our society for a very long time, but the lack of proper codified laws never supported the voices of the victims of domestic violence. Therefore, human beings need to recognize the definition of home violence and the numerous bureaucracies it could take. The definition of domestic violence acknowledges that every person may be a victim, no matter socio-financial background, schooling level, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Regardless of women or men , every individual faces domestic violence; the only difference is that some of the victims of this abuse come forward to speak and some suffer silently. Domestic violence changed as soon as it was known as violence in opposition to girls.

CAUSES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

There could be several causes for the occurrence of Domestic violence. Domestic violence in opposition to girls is a result of one or extra of the subsequent motives:

  1. Dowry
  2. Unable to have youngsters
  3. Unable to provide beginning to male youngsters
  4. Behavioural troubles
  5. Patriarch Long-time period society.

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive and assaultive behaviour which includes physical, sexual, verbal and psychological attacks that an adult-use against their intimate partners. Domestic violence is a universal violent social statement. It includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse which could be even emotional, physical or economic. When we are still a minor, we have been provided with this stereotype that if we are a girl, we have to return home within the provided time and if we are a boy, we have no such meaningless restrictions. Many stereotypes still exist in Indian families, and somehow no matter how modern India becomes in terms of establishing big multinational companies, the concept and the practice of domestic violence still exists in the societies of our country.

It is the utmost requirement to provide proper counselling to break these stereotypes and impart girl child and women with education, enlighten them about self-defence combats and provide them with the knowledge that there are laws to provide them relief, protect them from such harm. An unmarried daughter is better than an unhappy married daughter. Just the way we say that corruption starts from home, similarly these stereotypes begin from none other than our homes themselves.[2]

Dowry is one of the major motives for not unusual place home violence. The Dowry Prohibition Act changed into delivered in 1961. However, because the variety of dowry deaths increased, the regulation has become a paper-Mache tiger. Second, girls can’t supply beginning offspring. Since historical times, the closing pious motive of a lady’s lifestyle has been to create a brand new lifestyle, reproduction. These infertile girls are refrained from through society and are regularly known as cursed. Social strain is increasing, mainly due to mental and emotional abuse. However, in a few cases, the motive of violence may be very unreasonable. B. A male toddler can’t be a father. Indian guys’ obsession with youngsters continues to this day. This is clear from the variety of lady fetuses and lady infanticides. Further, there are troubles with a husband or in-regulation conduct which include short-temper and alcoholism. Finally, and possibly the maximum essential factor is the patriarchal society. The concept of fellows being advanced to girls has existed from time immemorial. This is what we’re nonetheless combating today.            Women had been regularly dealt with as a way of pride for guys and now no longer as people with dignity. The patriarchy is so deep-rooted that regardless of crossing 70 years of Independence, we nonetheless haven`t been capable of satisfying the primary essential rights of girls.

CATEGORIES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

Domestic Violence exists in several forms. Sometimes there could be possibilities of mental and sometimes the scenario could be of physical abuse. Somehow research was made on the term ‘domestic violence and types of violence were categorised with the impacts of domestic violence on the victim. As obvious from the definition, Domestic violence can take any individual of the subsequent bureaucracy:

  1. Physical abuse: Acts which, with the resource of the usage of its nature, purpose bodily injuries or impairs the health or development of a person portions to physical abuse. It includes acts like punching, hitting, hair-pulling, use of weapons, causing miscarriage without ladies’ consent. Being assaulted for denial to having sex, or be it any personal reason, possibly alcohol consumption or short temper, many women have faced physical abuse and even today we shall find victims of physical abuse in almost 70% of families in our society.
  1. Sexual abuse: Any act of sexual nature which results in humiliation, degradation or violation of the dignity of woman portions to sexual abuse. Consent of a woman is the most required necessity to have sexual intercourse. It has appeared as one of the invisible forms of domestic violence. Usually, it can be withinside the form of marital rape or incest. Marital rape isn’t an offence in India. However, a husband forcing himself upon the partner portions to cruelty and springs beneath the purview of violence closer to ladies. Women do not talk about sexual abuse to anyone; especially married women, there is this stereotype that upon their opening up to someone they trust, there could be reputation damage, or may occur unfavourably circumstance.
  1. Verbal abuse: The concept of verbal abuse includes insults, humiliation, name-calling, which has a relatively higher chance of converting into physical abuse. Abuse not only exists physically or mentally but also verbally. On facing verbal abuse, the aggrieved person suffers mentally and there are possibilities of depression.
  1. Psychological and Emotional Abuse: Acts that leave a deep terrible impact on the victim’s psyche. The existence of emotional abuse and psychological abuse has the equivalent impact on the victims in the same way physical abuse creates. Blackmailing or depriving someone’s emotions, not respecting them or probably providing the silent treatment leads to psychological or emotional abuse.
  1. Economic abuse: consists of exclusion of ladies from all economic decision-making, unequal pay and denial of property rights. As in line with the regulation, it is the deprivation of all or any economic or economic assets to which the aggrieved person is entitled to.

LAWS RELATED TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN INDIA:

The term ‘domestic violence’ didn’t exist in any legal provisions till the year 2005; a step in its direction was taken with the adoption of Section 498A and 304B of The Indian Penal Code. The enactment of 498A made cruelty towards women a non-bailable criminal offence, punishable with up to a minimum of five years of prison.[3] Laws related to Domestic violence in India are:

  1. PROTECTION OF WOMEN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005
  2. Section 498A of THE INDIAN PENAL CODE
  3. DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT,1961

Amendment to the Indian Criminal Code in 1983, a unique segment 498A changed into delivered to the Indian Criminal Code, which makes home violence a crook offence.

 The 2005 Act of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence especially addresses the pitfalls of real home violence or bodily, internal, emotional, sexual or verbal abuse, and dowry or belongings intrusions. It offers the lady the right to stay in her “marital marriage”, she can’t be expelled from her home due to the fact she legally stocks it together with her husband. Violators of this regulation are both allowed to indemnify girls financially or have obtained an injunction to maintain them far from plaintiffs.

The Indian Criminal Code of 1860, in addition to Section 364 of the Indian Criminal Code on Women’s Modest Wrath, Section 304 and Section 313 of the Indian Criminal Code on Dowry Death, is referred to as the rules and regulations/laws to safeguard women from violence.  There are numerous sections. The preferred concept is that human beings accept as true that girls are the best sufferers of home violence and guys are perpetrators. This is a myth.

  • Need for strict criminal laws to regulate Domestic Violence:

The adoption of Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code, 1983 stated that domestic violence is considered to be a criminal offence. This segment discusses the abuse of a married woman through the manner of a husband or his relatives. There is currently, unfortunately, no single law within the Indian Constitution that could deal strictly with all the unique forms of “domestic violence”. In the region, this form of law is urgently required. Sections 498-A and Domestic Violence Act 2005 were moreover misused because of a constrained definition of marital cruelty.

While there are a few flaws within the Act and there can nonetheless be plenty to be preferred for enforcement, the insurance itself does seem very realistic. Yes, statistics that men often face violence is essential. Yes, the better implementation of the Act is essential. This is attributed to the dowry deaths of women who have been killed because of domestic and sexual abuse. The Act seeks to provide women who’re struggling with domestic abuse with streamlined processes, which has been a big element of success, with the right of entry to civilian and quasi-criminal remedies.[4]

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN:

Women are not the handiest victims of domestic violence person men moreover are bothered by it but it becomes difficult to find out that men are victims and now no longer abusers. As our mind is ready that it’s a male dominating society and they may be the abuser, women are the weaker segment of the society and they may be the patient’s handiest.

There are masses of provisions and acts in India which may be made to guard women and now many of the women take advantage of it. Men moreover go through highbrow cruelty similar to physical cruelty but each they may be ashamed to per-cent about the violence they may be coping with or feared that nobody will accept as true with them and as a substitute human beings are going to make fun of them. It isn’t easy for men to be at the front and tell human beings about the violence they may be dealing with because of their respective partners.

India is a patriarchal society and it’s no longer an unusual notion that men are the abuser and they suppress the women to maintain their control over her but it isn’t the handiest truth. If we take a look at the alternative side of the scenario then we are capable of seeing that even men are the victims of violence

Men can be patient, why it’s difficult for us to be given the truth, we continuously talk about equality of rights but are we truly equal, why we are blind at the same time as the hassle entails see that men moreover need help and jail justice. Violence becomes a now no longer unusual place where individuals who very own dominating nature suppress the weaker associate; it could be men or women. It is an immoderate time to prevent gender bias and take a step to stop the violent act regardless of who is the victim. India has the stereotype that violence can occur only with the female gender and not the male gender, men are considered to be muscular and strong and generally have the image of doing domestic violence rather than suffering from violence, we can see there is no provision to prevent or secure the men from domestic violence by their intimate partner. It isn’t that women are safe from the tight hold of domestic violence, even after the establishment of laws to safeguard the safety of women against this violence, many women yet face violence every day and are somehow silenced because of what society would say, but besides this, even the men of our same society choose to keep silence when faced violence by their wives due to the same thinking of what the society would say. We all must know the law protects us and the law sees all of us as unbiased. Due to the lack of provision for men against domestic violence, men choose to suffer in silence.

Conclusion:

Domestic abuse is neither contemporary nor evolving with exchange within the society. The Government of India has taken various crucial steps to face and terminate the problem of Domestic Violence. Section 498A, Section 304B has been inserted into the Indian Penal Code. But the provisions were now no longer sufficient to decrease the menace. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is a valuable piece of law in its entirety. In the final analysis, its weaknesses now no longer remove the big advantage the Act can supply to women. The protection of women’s rights is a mundane approach. It moreover applies, even though in a restricted sense (male children are exempt from their jurisdiction), to child sex abuse, at a time even as the crime is rife.[5] 

Domestic violence has hindered the development of women as a class of human beings in all additives of lifestyles. Apart from the physical injuries sustained, house violence leaves a huge horrible impact on the psyche and personality. Many survivors undergo a couple of counselling intervals to head again to regular lives. Despite having a crook framework in areas to decrease domestic violence, women continue to suffer. Between January and May 2021, over 3 hundred domestic violence complaints were filed with the National Commission for Women. The figure is a very high-quality estimate of about 2000. The immoderate numbers can be perceived from additives.

Positively, more women are getting a reputation closer to domestic violence through the manner of trying to find crook help. The time phase of the pandemic was quite ironic. It brought some families close to each other, while it also torn some married couples apart leading to painful and unhappy life, the amount of divorce cases files in India post-pandemic were relatively high than that of the pre-pandemic, and the grounds of such divorce were either maintenance or domestic violence, sexual abuse or physical abuse by the husband. However, it is moreover that the crime fee remains immoderate. In a horrible phrase, the immoderate numbers can be signalling a volatile rise in violence considering the pandemic lockdown and work-from-homes nonetheless continuing. In each of the cases, the criminal tips have proved to be inefficient. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to make our criminal tips stringent to guard the nation’s women. Last but most importantly, women want to be sensitized about the importance of financial independence and the crook framework that is available to help them.


[1] Article on Domestic Violence: Author

  1. Martin Tucker
  2. Kevin King
  3. Gray Jordan

[2] “How To Find Domestic Violence Helplines And Counseling In India”

https://www.naaree.com/domestic-violence-helplines-india/amp/

[3] “LAWS AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN INDIA | SoOLEGAL

https://www.soolegal.com/roar/laws-against-domestic-violence-in-india-1

[4] “Domestic Violence and Connected Laws Indian Women Should Know Of” 

https://www.shethepeople.tv/law-and-her/domestic-violence-and-connected-laws-indian-women-should-know-of/amp/

[5]Youtube video on Domestic violence

Author: Shaheen Khatoon, Indian Institute of Legal Studies, N.B.U

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India

THE FEMINIST APPROACH OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT: NEED TO RECOGNISE RIGHTS OF MEN

Reading time : 8 minutes

“Rahul was abused and tortured by his wife every day before his son. His son’s behavior was also getting influenced or affected due to the daily nuisance which was happening in their house. The violence and fights were so major and far-reaching that the neighbors also came to about the situation, but still there was nothing that he could do. One day when Rahul’s wife and son were not at home, he killed himself because he was done with the never-ending violence.”

The term “domestic violence” consists of a broad range of violent acts committed by one family member or household against the other. It usually refers to the mistreatment of a child or spouse, and includes not just physical harm but also threats along with verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse.  The connection between the abuser and the victim is the most basic way to distinguish between other assault crimes and domestic violence. In a country like India, the word domestic violence is mostly always associated with woman and is believed that is inflicted only on woman. Due to this mentality the approach of our judiciary is also feministic in nature when it comes to the victims of domestic violence and their rights. Feminism basically means the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes or advocacy of women’s right on the ground of equality of sexes. The phrase equality of sexes is not given due weightage to the rights of male victims as opposed to females.

Domestic violence is often seen as victim to be a female and a perpetrator to be male, but the evidence demonstrates that this is a false picture.  The feministic approach has led to limiting the understanding of domestic violence as only against women.  It should instead been given a gender neutral approach. This is so because spousal abuse is not something that is faced by only one gender. The usual presumption or the stereotypical notions that has been existing in our society since bygone is that men are supposed to be powerful and strong and should not express their emotions publicly. If they show or expose their vulnerabilities then they are labelled as being sissy, effeminate, and many other derogatory terms. This ideology has been prevalent since a long time continuing till date.

REASONS FOR DV TO BE FEMALE ORIENTED

Our legal system focuses more on female counter parts or can be called female centric. This is so because during the ancient times Indian women held a prominent position of respect in the society as stated in Rig Veda and other scriptures. Although later, due to changes in social, political and economic areas, women lost their status and were   declassed to the background. Many   egregious   customs   and traditions stepped in which enslaved the women and tied them to the boundaries of the house. India is country where the male is greatly revered. There was lack of acceptance of women’s right from the male dominant society due to which Indian women suffered substantially. The females used to get mentally and physically abused by their husbands and their in laws in their domestic household. The male dominance in the society was overriding the rights of women in the form of domestic violence.

The Indian constitution states that women are legal citizens of the country and that they have equal   rights as compared to men. In order to protect these rights of women the Domestic Violence Act was passed. The purpose of the act was to protect the rights of women and not men keeping in mind the male dominance during that time. 

WHY IS THERE A NEED TO RECOGNISE THE RIGHTS OF MEN?

The law is not static in nature it is dynamic. With evolving times there is a need to change the law as well. There are pre-conceived notions that men do not suffer from intimate partner violence. In a study conducted by National Center for Biotechnology Information it was shown that in a study of 1000 married men among the various age groups from 21-49 years of age in the rural villages of Haryana, 52.4% of males experience gender-based violence in India. 51.5% of males have experienced some sort of torture or violence at the hands of their wives or their intimate partners in their lifetime. 10.5% of males have experienced gender-based violence at the hands of their wives or intimate partners in the last 12 months. Emotional and physical abuse are the two most common types of domestic violence or spousal abuse against men. [1]

In another study by Save Family Foundation, which interviewed 1,650 husbands between the ages of 15 and 49 years, selected through random sampling using a schedule adapted from the WHO multi-country study on husband’s health and domestic violence, reports that economical violence (32.8%) is common, followed by emotional violence (22.2%), physical violence (25.2%), and sexual violence (17.7%). Study illustrates the probability of abuse or violence significantly increases with the duration of marriage, especially when the marriage is more than 7 years old. [2]

Domestic violence does not necessarily mean using of physical violence. It can be in different forms as well. Like domestic violence can be

  1. Physical Violence

This may include slapping, pushing, hitting by wife, her parents, or relatives, or throwing objects like utensils, cell phones, and crockery at the husband. In physical violence, slapping was identified as the most common form (98.3%)[3] and the least common was beaten by weapon (3.3%). Out of the total, only one-tenth of the cases faced severe physical assault.

  • Psychological Violence

In emotional violence, reported 85% [1] abuse against the men was criticism, 29.7% [1] were insulted in front of others, and 3.5% [1] were threatened or hurt. Psychological violence may even occur through mental abuse for example giving threats to husband’s family under the pretext that she would wrongly accuse them of domestic violence and dowry.

  • 3)     Sexual Abuse

This can happen if the husband denies sex. According to a study by Malik and Nadda, only 0.4% men had experienced sexual violence.

  • Emotional Abuse

It can be defined as demeaning an individual’s self- worth, self esteem or maybe both. Polsky and Markowitz (2004, p. 2)[4] defined the term as “involving (emotional) trauma to the victim caused by acts, or coercive tactics.” The types of behaviors that are defined as emotional abuse are name-calling, humiliation, low self-worth, and manipulation

Considering all the above data there is a serious need to amend the current domestic violence act and include the rights of men and laws that could protect men from intimate partner violence that is inflicted by women. The psychological and the sociological perspective of the society are also required to be changed.  There are ample number of cases which suggests that the law has changed or has been formed because the community as a whole fails to think rationally when it comes to comparing that the men and women can commit the same amount of heinous acts and hence should be equated on the same pedestal. Even if a man thinks of reporting the domestic abused caused to him the social stigmas will hold him back.

There is a great amount of social stigma against men abused by women, where most of the male victims refuse to come out in open and share their ordeal with their family, friends or colleagues. Male victims of domestic violence are mocked and considered as chicken-hearted. Such thinking is chauvinistic and it is harmful. Due to these social stigmas which surround them they often feel discriminated because of which they feel apprehensive about opening up regarding the violence which they are facing. The fear of being judged overpowers the pain or mental or physical abused that they might be going through. They think that their efforts of raising their voices against the ill-treatment or abuse will go in vain because of the gender specific laws. Men are usually conceived as protector of the family and if they speak against the violence faced by them then they would feel that they have failed to play the role of the ‘man’ of the family.  

COMPARISION WITH THE OTHER COUNTRIES

One in nine men within the United States of America go through some sort of violence from their wives. One in seven men has been the victim of some form of physical violence by their wives.

Within the United Kingdom, two out of five victims of domestic violence are men. This sets aside the ideology that men are not always the perpetrators. As per the men’s rights campaign group parity domestic violence is often overlooked and most of the time their attackers are not penalized by the authorities.

As reported by the British Crime survey, 40% of the domestic abuse victims were men, between the year 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. But in the recent years this figure has reduced to 37.7%.

Also, in Australia, One in Sixteen men are exposed to domestic violence since 15 years of age, either in the form of physical or sexual torture, either from their wives or the person with whom they are cohabiting. As per the records, at least one man is killed in a month as a consequence of facing domestic violence, either from their current or previous partner.

These surveys and studies from numerous countries reveal that the intimate partner violence or spousal abuse amongst the men is quite common at the hands of their wives. Hence, the applicable provisions ought to be brought in force in order to deal with the domestic violence in a more neutral way.

ROLE OF GENDER BIASED LAW

Gender is a social construction which is usually affected by caste, country, race, culture, sexual inclination, rituals, and ability and so on. In numerous South Asian nations like India, the gender roles are very stringent and inflexible. This rigidness leads to gender biasness and the stereotypical thinking. Men who face the intimate partner violence, partner usually being a woman can do nothing about it as women are usually immune to the provision which lays down punishment of gender based violence under the Indian Penal Code.

As per section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, only a man can be held responsible for cruelty to his wife. There isn’t any subsection or a provision that will make a woman accountable for the domestic or spousal violence that she causes. Even when the men attempt to open up and report about torment and violence which they are going through, nobody pays attention including the police. Raising a voice against domestic violence would be regarded as whining and the men would be given labels such as feeble or effeminate by the society.

Judiciary plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the interest of men and women. In the present scenario the judiciary stresses upon gender based law in clear articulation that there is involvement of ethics when it comes to gender based violence. Instead of giving the gender biased judgement by way of gender biased law, the judges should consider both national and international aspect of domestic violence against men and women before deciding a case. It is the responsibility of the three organs of the state which are legislature, executive and judiciary to take the suitable step to fend off violence against men and women. The judicial system of the country provides for procedure that would protect the innocent and at the same time also afford opportunity to be heard given the due process is followed immaterial of the litigants status and position. Although, there are a few cases through which our judiciary has dealt regarding the domestic violence against men like the Hiralal P. Harasona and others v/s Kusum Narrotamdas and others. In this case the court held that now even men can initiate the proceeding against the domestic violence faced by them. Similar judgement have been given by the court that provides justice to men in the case concerning domestic violence, given that their actions are not contradicting provisions established by law.

The Indian Judicial system of India provides for the procedure to protect the innocent person. The judiciary discover and initiates the proper action against the guilty and ensure that the due process as provided by the constitution is followed for all the litigants. It provides to redress all the matters of violence against women and guarantees that the guilty is held accountable or is punished whereas when there is violence against men by women there is hardly such provision for redressal.

Usually the honorable trial court decides the matters regarding women and children in the country while on the other hand the Supreme court has the original jurisdiction regarding Public interest litigation as well as writ petition which deals with rape and murder of women including dowry deaths.

Even though there are multiple acts which favours men but the judiciary while handling the case of domestic violence against men should acknowledge the fact of violence and should go deeper in order to figure out the gap in our system which is faced by the society. The Supreme Court has wide discretionary power to adjudge this matter and hence can suggest the legislature the issue which is being overlooked in regards to domestic violence against men. Despite the fact that there are various judgements given by the Supreme Court in favour of men, but the judicial system is yet to find out the root cause of domestic violence and ways to curb it by the way of implementation of act and provide remedy for the same. Some of the cases decided by the courts are explained below.[5]

Rajesh Kumar & Ors v. State of U.P, it was decided that any false case which the wife makes against the husband and his relatives, should must be fist referred to the family committee established by the District Legal Service Authority (DLSA), should preferably comprises of three members and the construction of this committee may be reviewed from time to time by a district judge who is also a chairman of legal service authority. Furthermore, the members of the committee should either be social workers or retired working officer. Each matter will be referred to the committee and the committee either personally or through telephone should interact with them. After the discussion a report would be submitted to the magistrate and if he thinks that the evidence and the incriminating material is conclusive or suffices to makes a case then only the case would be admitted.

In the case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, the court held that, given the fact of rampant misuse of the law, it would only be prudent and advisable for the police officers not to make an arrest in case of domestic of violence unless, it absolutely evident after the investigation that there is some legitimacy to the claim, now that maximum punishment under section 498-A of Indian Penal code is 3 years and under section 4 of dowry Prohibition Act is 2 years with fine. Furthermore, Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable which is now acting more as a weapon for woman rather than a shield by the resentful wives, as it is the most easy way to harass the husband and his family by getting them arrested under this provision. It is has taken a place of pride but in a dubious or cryptic manner.

In quite a lot of cases even the grandparents of the husband or any of his relatives residing abroad for decades have also been arrested. Therefore, it was held that it would wiser for the general public especially men to safeguard their rights that they are not arrested without any reasonable cause and due investigation should be conducted in order to check the legitimacy of the allegations. Hence, before making an arrest under section 498A of Indian Penal Code, the police should comply with section 41 of the criminal procedure Code, so that the husband’s family is not arrested by the police officials.

CONCLUSION

Spousal abuse is not something which is being faced only by women. It is very much being faced by men as well. Large number of domestic violence reports goes underreported because of the stereotypical notions of the society and also because we try to cage our thinking when it comes to gender. Due to these stereotypical notions and ideology many men feel that the situation would shortly get better and this is the reason that they don’t tend to report about the domestic violence which they are going through. Any form of violence, it may be physical or mental is a gross violation of law and human rights. These underreported cases of domestic violence, may ultimately end up in separations, divorces even depression or anxiety which may lead to suicides.

Additionally, due to the gender biased provisions in law like the Indian Penal Code which favours women, there are plethora of fake allegations made by women against men for not only domestic violence but for heinous acts of rape as well. Since, the law supports the women it would automatically assume that men can never be at the receiving side of the crime. Women are not required to provide for any sort of evidence to order to prove the authenticity of the claim.

In today’s changing times, where we have adopted modernization and westernization, the societal values and cultural norms have changed as well. Earlier, men were considered as a protector of the family but now, since, both men and women are working equally in order to provide for the family and also managing their homes by equally contributing the incomes and dividing the expenses. So, now, if society is considering men and women at the same level and giving them equal societal status, the society should also consider that women are also capable of committing the crimes which a man can commit. It is not right to categorize the crimes on basis of gender because men are no longer stronger than women.

It is high time that the legislatures and statutes to recognize that this is more of social or society problem and issue and the society’s acceptance cannot decide the possibility of crime. Domestic Violence against men needs to be recognized and the effective changes should be inculcated in the law, by spreading and creating awareness within people and also by breaking the stereotypes and preconceived notions.

There are always three sides to a story which is, the two people telling their versions and the actual truth. It is the responsibility of the law to figure out the truth by listening to both the parties, instead of impulsively coming upon the conclusions based on the genders. The judiciary needs to come up with its version of truth or the actual truth by way of examinations, investigation and trainings. The sad reality is that men are abused, but this fact is not acknowledged by many people in our society and instead they are left with no one whom they can turn as they fear to contradict the societal standards which is established by the stereotyping a gender by placing it on them.


[1] Jagbir Singh Malik and Anuradha Nadda’s – A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6437789/

[2] Sarkar, S., Dsouza, R., & Dasgupta, A. (2007). Domestic violence against men—a study report by Save family Foundation. Retrieved from www.savefamily.org

[3] Jagbir Singh Malik and Anuradha Nadda’s – A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6437789/

[4]  Polsky and Markowitz (2004, p. 2)  https://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2448&context=etd

[5] Ayush verma- Domestic violence against men in India  https://blog.ipleaders.in/domestic-violence-men-india/

Author: BHUMIKA KHANDELWAL, NAVRACHANA UNIVERSITY

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: AN UNFINISHED AGENDA

Reading time : 8 minutes

“Domestic violence is not simply an argument. It is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, emotional insults and economic deprivation as a way to dominate their victims and get their way”.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 says that any act, conduct, omission or commission that harms or injures or has the potential to harm or injure will be considered domestic violence by the law. Even a single act of omission or commission may constitute domestic violence – in other words, women do not have to suffer a prolonged period of abuse before taking recourse to law. The law covers children also. Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women. However, most commonly, the victims are women, especially in our country. Even in the United States, it has been reported that 85% of all violent crime experienced by women are cases of intimate partner violence, compared to 3% of violent crimes experienced by men. Thus, domestic violence in Indian context mostly refers to domestic violence against women.

WHAT CAUSES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Studies suggest that violent behavior often is caused by an interaction of situational and individual factors. That means that abusers learn violent behavior from their family, people in their community and other cultural influences as they grow up. They may have seen violence often or they may have been victims themselves. Some abusers acknowledge growing up having been abused as a child. Children who witness or are the victims of violence may learn to believe that violence is a reasonable way to resolve conflict between people. Boys who learn that women are not to be valued or respected and who see violence directed against women are more likely to abuse women when they grow up. Girls who witness domestic violence in their families of origin are more likely to be victimized by their own husbands. Although women are most often the victim of domestic violence, the gender roles can and are reversed sometimes.

Alcohol and drugs may contribute to violent behavior. A drunk or high person will be less likely to control his or her violent impulses toward their partner, so keeping such drinking or drug use episodes to a minimum may be valuable for a person living in a domestic violence situation.

Some people with very traditional beliefs may think they have the right to control their partner, and that women aren’t equal to men. Others may have an undiagnosed personality disorder or psychological disorder. Still others may have learned this behavior from growing up in a household where domestic violence was accepted as a normal part of being raised in their family.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

There is enough evidence to support that higher reproductive morbidity is seen among women experiencing domestic violence. Studies conducted in North India have shown elevated odd’s ratio of gynecological symptoms, while comparing women with husbands reporting no domestic violence and women who experienced physical and sexual violence. It may be attributed to the fact that abusive men were more likely to engage in extra marital sex and acquire STDs, there by placing their wives at risk of acquiring STDs. There was also lesser condom use reported among such men.

These make women more susceptible to HIV infection, and the fear of violent male reactions, physical and psychological, prevents many women from trying to find out more about it, discourages them from getting tested and stops them from getting treatment.

WHY DO WOMEN STAY?

Economic dependence has been found to be the central reason. Without the ability to sustain themselves economically, women are forced to stay in abusive relationships and are not able to be free from violence. Due to deep-rooted values and culture, women do not prefer to adopt the option of separation or divorce. They also fear the consequences of reporting violence and declare an unwillingness to subject themselves to the shame of being identified as battered women. Lack of information about alternatives also forces women to suffer silently within the four walls of their homes. Some women may believe that they deserve the beatings because of some wrong action on their part. Other women refrain from speaking about the abuse because they fear that their partner will further harm them in reprisal for revealing family secrets, or they may be ashamed of their situation.

Violence against women is a violation of basic human rights. It is shameful for the states that fail to prevent it and societies that tolerate and in fact perpetuate it. It must be eliminated through political will, and by legal and civil action in all sectors of society.

ADDRESSING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

An effective response to violence must be multi-sectoral; addressing the immediate practical needs of women experiencing abuse; providing long-term follow up and assistance; and focusing on changing those cultural norms, attitudes and legal provisions that promote the acceptance of and even encourage violence against women, and undermine women’s enjoyment of their full human rights and freedoms.

The health sector has unique potential to deal with violence against women, particularly through reproductive health services, which most women will access at some point in their lives. However, this potential is far from being realized. Few doctors, nurses or other health personnel have the awareness and the training to identify violence as the underlying cause of women’s health problems.

ROLE OF PUBLIC HEALTH PERSONNEL

Domestic violence against women has been identified as a public health priority. Public health personnel can play a vital role in addressing this issue.

Since violence against women is both a consequence and a cause of gender inequality, primary prevention programs that address gender inequality and tackle the root causes of violence are all essential. Public health workers have a responsibility to build awareness by creating and disseminating materials and innovative audio-visual messages, which project a positive image of girl child and women in the society. An integrated media campaign covering electronic, print and film media that portrays domestic violence as unacceptable is the need of the hour. The role of increasing male responsibility to end domestic violence needs to be emphasized.

Programs are required which intend to address battered women’s needs, including those that focus on building self-efficacy and livelihood skills. The significance of informal and local community networks should be acknowledged in this regard. The survivors of domestic violence can be involved in program planning and implementation in order to ensure accessibility and effectiveness. Rather than spotlighting women as victims in non negotiable situations, they should be portrayed as agents capable of changing their own lives. The public health experts have a vital role to play in networking with NGOs and voluntary organizations and creation of social support networks.

The public health experts have a potential to train personnel specialized to address the needs of victims of domestic violence. In the field of research, public health personnel can contribute by conducting studies on the ideological and cultural aspects which give rise to and perpetuate the phenomenon of domestic violence. Similarly, the execution and impact of programs must be assessed in order to provide the necessary background for policy-making and planning. However, the health sector must work with all other sectors including education, legal and judicial, and social services.

 “A law is as good as its implementability, despite the lofty aspirations. The responses to the enactment are polarized, with one section fearing its misuse by an elite class in metro cities and another segment predicting its futility for the mass of rural women saddled with the yoke of patriarchy to which courts are as yet alien”
A bill alone will not help in preventing domestic abuse; what is needed is a change in mindsets.

Author: Yashwi Verma

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.

Law regarding domestic violence in India

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

At a time when the whole world is battling with the virus and the Government is imposing stringent regulations to ensure the safety of its citizenry, there has ironically been a surge in the number of domestic violence cases across many households in the nation. Domestic violence accounts for intimate terrorism, and is more of a predicament than “The stock of liquor has been exhausted.” It is a concern of utmost contrition that social stigmas and prevailing orthodox cultures make it demanding for the victims to even consider themselves as victims because they believe that there is nothing faulty with the process and most of them fear about being abandoned without food and shelter if they try to raise their voices, especially if there are children involved; their fear of staying is overpowered by their fear of leaving.

Mr. Hans Kluge, Regional Director of World Health Organization has recently quoted “Countries are reporting up to a 60% increase in emergency calls by women subjected to violence by their intimate partners in April this year, compared to last”. The catastrophic impact of domestic violence cannot be mapped down solely to loss of physical integrity. The scars on the mental health of a person do not tend to be as obvious as scars from sticks and stones, but the impact may be cavernous and something that they might carry to the other side of their grave.

Probable reasons for this surge

Home is surmised to be a safe haven, then why has domestic violence emerged to be an intrinsic part of locked down India? Contributory factors to this raging issue could be stress and associated risk ingredients including but not limited to, joblessness, frustration, reduced income, scarce resources, alcohol abuse, and almost negligible social support.

Gender roles dictate that men should be burdened with the onus for providing for their families. Inability to do so results in frustration. Evidence has also shown that eating nutrient deficient meals also results in leading to a loss of self-control. The probability of witnessing domestic violence is 6 times greater in households who are persistently food-insecure. In the current scenario, having uncertain or limited availability of nutritionally adequate food or the ability to acquire them means lacking control over one part of their lives which they are entitled to fulfill. This, in turn, results in overcompensating and being more dominating in their relationships and domestic lives, which further leads to unanticipated quarrels and arguments. Any further trigger finally sets off intimate partner abuse. Such violence exhibits a tendency to explode in multifarious forms such as physical, sexual or emotional.

The vehemence could also be fuelled by other factors such as the desire to exploit their spouse for personal benefits, the flare to be in a commanding position all the time showcasing their supremacy, so on and so forth. Moreover, such women who are abused are most likely to possess common attributes which include low self-esteem, a traditional upbringing and stereotypical behavior about marriage and severe stress reactions. They are also likely to have been raised in households where their family members were subjected to domestic violence. Right from the onset, men and women are differentiated and preached about the kind of responsibilities one has to shoulder without even reflecting on what they are capable of doing as an individual.

Battered Women Syndrome- Do our women deserve it?

Battered Women Syndrome was first recognized by Dr. Lenore Walker in the 1970’s wherein she tried to explain the psycho-social condition of a woman suffering from domestic violence in her book “The Battered Women”. She wanted to describe the unique patterns of behavior which a woman goes through physically and mentally that can develop when a person experiences violence and they try to find ways in order to survive it. There is an entire cycle of abuse which Walker had discovered while studying this theory known as the ‘Walker Cycle Theory’ which consists of three stages:

  • Tension Building Stage: This is the first phase where the verbal fights between the man and the woman starts.
  • Acute Battering Stage: This is where the husband is filled with uncontrollable anger.
  • Love Contrition: The final stage where the husband apologizes to his wife and promises to never do it again.

Bound by socio-economic factors beyond their control, these women are trapped within the cycle of violence.  Further, Battered Women Syndrome creates a sense of helplessness in these women, where they believe that legal recourses will fail them.  Hopelessness and ‘learned helplessness’ may lead such women to be convinced that it is impossible to escape; even when escape is objectively a possibility or other options of liberation are ostensibly available to them.

The psychology and the reason behind why battered women do not leave their spouses despite the torture in most of the cases is because the woman loves her husband and is not ready to leave him; she rather blames herself for not keeping the spouse happy and continues to carry the entire emotional burden and responsibility of the family with her.

Laws regarding domestic violence in India

Laws in India have been enacted that deal directly with domestic violence: The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a civil law which ensures the protection of not just married women against men, but also women who are in live-in relationships, as well as family members including mothers, grandmothers, etc. Within the ambit of this law, women can pursue safeguarding against domestic violence, abuse, battery and may further claim financial compensation and the right to live in their shared household. She may even ask for maintenance from her abuser in case they are living apart. This law is to guarantee that women do not get kicked out of their own homes and are able to sustain themselves in case they have faced violence. Under this Act, a Magistrate can pass a protection order to ensure that the abuser does not contact or is in close proximity to the survivor.
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act is of a criminal nature, within which the givers and takers of dowry may be prosecuted.  Dowry demands constitute a reason for domestic violence in many households in India, which is why it becomes a necessity to have such laws in place. Under the provisions of this Act, if someone takes, gives or even demands dowry, they can be punished with imprisonment for a period of 6 months or a fine of ₹5000 may be levied on the offender.
  • Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is another criminal law that exists to keep a check on violence occurring within the four walls of one’s home. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code states “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.” Cruelty has been given a broad scope and may refer to any conduct that leads a woman to commit suicide or which causes grave injury to her life or health, including the aspect of mental health. It further includes harassment in the name of dowry.

Landmark case laws

  • Hiral P. Harsora And Ors V. Kusum Narottamdas Harsora And Ors. (2016)

In a landmark judgment, Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman broadened the scope of the Domestic Violence Act by ruling the deletion of the words “adult male” from the provisions under section 2(q) of the Act, thus paving the path for women and even non-adults to be prosecuted for causing domestic violence or harassment to any married woman within her household.

  • Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand & anr. (2018)

In this case, the apex Court of India categorically held that a woman may claim maintenance from her abuser under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The Court further stated that the victim need not be legally wedded to the offender in order to do so. This means that even an estranged wife or live-in-partner may invoke the provisions of this Act. Section 3(A) defines “domestic violence” which also constitutes “economic abuse”. The victim would also be entitled to a shared household under this Act, and will not be limited by Section 125 of the CrPC which solely grants relief.

  • Binita Dass v. Uttam Kumar (2019)

In a very recent judgment of August, 2019, Justice Sachdeva of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court passed an order stating that a wife may not be denied interim maintenance by a Magistrate on grounds that she is a self-sufficient qualified person and has the capacity to earn. She must be granted compensation regardless of her abilities to sustain her own self.

  • Ajay Kumar v. Lata (2019)

Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta held in this judgment that an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage may file a case against not just her husband or male partner, but may also seek protection against a family member or a relative of the husband or the male partner, under the provisions of section 2(Q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Domestic violence helpline numbers

The National Commission for Women, the apex National level organization of India, with a mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women, has released an Emergency WhatsApp number for the entirety of the duration of the lockdown.

Women experiencing domestic abuse and violence in the face of COVID-19 may reach out at: +91 7217735372

  • The universal number for women in distress is 1090 and 181 for domestic abuse.
  • Women’s Helpline in Mumbai: 1298
  • Women’s Helpline in Bangalore: 1091 (24*7)/ 080-2294-3225
  • Women’s Helpline in Delhi: 10921/ 011-2338-9680
  • Women’s Helpline in Pune: +91 8793088814/5/6
  • Joint Women’s Programme in Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata: 011-24619821

Conclusion

Good design is not just about aesthetics, but being able to do justice for which it was designed. Well-meaning organizations have designed helplines to assist women suffering from domestic violence during COVID-19. But if only 38% of Indian women have access to smartphones, then this intervention design is as useful as a pencil tied to a brick or worse yet, exclusionary in nature. Technology needs broader social mediation to be empowering in the long run.

People in rural areas need to be educated and made aware about the remedies available to them; perhaps locating potential disseminators of information through snowball sampling-being able to pass information about guidelines to a couple of women in a particular village community, who will further have the responsibility of spreading it to other women, might be an idea to build upon. Simple solutions can be designed, like in olden times, people could mark houses/places with symbols to convey a message regarding violence or abuse. A sickle would convey one, a tick mark another. Distress signals could be identified with as simple a gesture as women requesting a particular set of songs on the radio.

The need of the hour is that Governments should increase investment in civil society organizations, appoint people to educate the masses, declare ‘shelters’ as essential services, continue to prosecute abusers and hold individuals convicted of violence, in prison. Further, we need to stop using gendered lens for designing solutions for a crisis as nauseating and equally disturbing for both the genders. If we are sick of the narrative that is currently going on about men, we need to change it; we need to get involved. We need to make amends by breaking existing norms and reporting any case of violence within our knowledge, instead of burying it in the face of normalcy. The day a victim becomes a survivor, will be the day our society achieves a colossal victory.

Author: Yashasvi Kanodia from NMIMS School of Law, Mumbai.

Editor: Priyanshu Grover from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh.