Facts and statistics from the T.V. Show,SatyamevaJayate, anchored by Amir Khan.
* Shobharani V. Madhukar Reddy, S.C, AIR. 1988.
Law on dom estic violence against women
The Remedies in Civil Law .Presentation by Mohanakumar V.N.
Domestic violence is the net effect of behaviours used by one person in a domestic relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. It includes some other domestic relations too. The Indian Law does not accord permission to all the afore- said categories. D.V. is life long suffering mostly of women at various stages of their life: Pre-natal, infancy, adolescence, womanhood, senility. 2
Before Birth: Pre-natal sex-selection, battering pregnant woman. Infancy: Female infanticide and physical, sexual, psychological abuse and discrimination. Girlhood & Adolescence: Child marriage, Genital Mutilation, sex abuses by intimate relatives, enforced prostitution. Womanhood: partner violence, marital rape, forced pregnancy, dowry abuse. Elderly: Neglect by offspring, forced suicide, starvation, denial of essential medical attention. 3
Patriarchal view of society see woman as the property of man. In the National language, Pati means husband; it also means owner. It shows our national attitude towards woman. Shockingly she is safer outdoors than indoors. 40% of women patients in a hospital are found to be victims of D.V. 4
D.V. is learned behaviour: through observation and personal experience from day-to-day interactions. It may be worsened and not caused by illness, heredity, alcohol, victim’s conduct and lack of self-control. D.V. is not just a physical outrage; it is deliberate abuse of power by which the abuser controls the victim by calculated intimidation and violence. Unequal power relations result in establishment of control and fear, victimising the weaker. 5
Domestic violence is not a problem in my community. Domestic violence only happens to poor women. Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence. Domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife. Leaving marriage is a sin and is the end of life. 6
Tension building: Begins insidiously with minor controlling behaviours and psychological abuses and insults. Abusive: By establishing control through calculated moves physical abuses are perpetrated. Apology: Initially the perpetrator tends apology. The movement is cyclic. Though with the victim’s total submission to violence, the phase of apology becomes unwarranted. 7
Relegating intimate domestic relationships to private sphere limits the scope of governmental scrutiny, further compounding the peripheral status of women. Public sphere is man’s domain where the relations between State and citizen are dealt with. The International human right norms concentrate mainly on abuses in the relationships between State and Citizen. A crime in private life is ignored and the same offence in public sphere is viewed seriously by the State. e.g. marital rape and rape. The cultural, religious, domestic abuses against women enjoy the immunity of private sphere. 9
Why a legislation for domestic violence? Domestic violence is among the most prevalent and among the least reported forms of cruel behaviour. Till the year 2005, remedies available to a victim of domestic violence in the civil courts (divorce) and criminal courts (vide Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code) were limited. The remedies that were available were linked to matrimonial proceedings; and the court proceedings were always protracted, during which period the victim was invariably at the mercy of the abuser. 10
The Personal Laws based on religion, dealing with private life, have two extreme remedies to D.V: either adjust or quit. Maintenance is possible only on leaving shared household. The remedy lies somewhere between the two extremes as demonstrated by the Indian D.V. Act. Restraining orders are rare and have no sting due to want of penalties. The recurring incidence of intimate partner violence necessitates continued surveillance of a unique legal mechanism. 11
Cruelty as prototype of Domestic Violence. Cruelty is not defined and the court can be flexible. Matrimonial cruelty is a ground for both spouses. The conduct of one spouse making the other impossible to continue living together without acute distress. *The conduct to be relating to matrimonial duties and responsibilities. The suffering can be either physical or mental. Cruelty, though a ground, has been differently identified by different personal laws. Other grounds in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: Adultery, Desertion, Impotency, Chronic Diseases. 12
The list of laws created for various religions are: For Hindu (Sikhs, Jains and Buddists) – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 Muslims – Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 Christians – Indian Divorce Act, 1869 Parsis – The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 Inter-caste or Inter-Religious or Non-religious – Special Marriage Act, 1954. The deficiency of the prevailing civil law has led to the D.V. Act of 2005. 13