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A Critical Analysis of Provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act


Authored by- Anjali Shekhawat

Keywords- #DomesticViolence #DomesticAbuse #PhysicalandMentalAbuse #Abuseagainstwomen #AbusesforDowry #ProtectionofWomenfromDomesticViolenceAct2005


Abstract


Any form of violence done by a person in an intimidating relationship on the person with whom they are in a relationship with can be termed as domestic violence. Domestic violence hinders a person’s mental growth, societal growth, and economic growth and thus affects the livelihood of a person. This has to be addressed and legislation have to be analyzed in an attempt to protect the victims. The Domestic Violence Act of 2005 addresses the issue but also lacks in certain aspects to fully nullify the crisis.


Introduction to Domestic Violence


Every relationship is based on trust and intimacy between two people; therefore, for many years, relationships were considered extremely personal affairs. As a result, any abuses or problems faced by people were either ignored or forced into a settlement between partners against their will. With time and change in society, such abuses and violence were recognized and defined as domestic violence. Domestic violence can be put into simple words as abuse of one partner by another in an intimidating relationship which can be of various types such as economical disturbance, mental abuse, physical abuse, etc. The United States Department of Justice Office has defined “Domestic Violence” as ‘a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner’[1]. In this present scenario where everyone is locked inside their houses and seeking justice has become difficult, such cases have risen[2]. There are laws made to protect domestic abuse of women and in India, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was framed in the year 2005.


Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005


“The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 prima facie appears to be comprehensive and detailed to include every aspect of abuse. The term “domestic violence” has been defined for the first time in such a detailed manner which includes actual abuse or threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic[3].” PWDVA has been successful in tackling this problem to a certain level. The significant step was to recognize NGOs and; giving them the power to reach out and protect women from such acts.

This act has recognized the following conducts as acts constituting Domestic Violence:

§ Acts which may or do force a woman to commit suicide.

§ Acts that result in physical injury to women putting her life, body or health at grave risk.

§ Harassment for the purpose of seeking dowry-money from her family.

§ Torture of a woman in case her family could not manage to provide a dowry.

The act inflicts punishment of 3 years in addition to a fine. An important merit is that women or even her relatives can lodge a complaint as the victim is usually not in a position of filing a complaint and sometimes is restrained in such a way that it is not possible to seek legal remedies. This has yielded a positive result and has led to cases being reported to the concerned authorities. This act has improved the situation in India as now women have legislation empowered to punish the wrongdoers.


Analysis


PWDVA, 2005 lays down various forms of domestic abuse and inflicts punishment on the liable person. But then there is always an indispensable question that if such acts are sufficient than after so many years why have the cases not decreased, instead there have been crueler and more no of such acts being committed. The act would not show any better results until and unless women are made aware of the rights provided to them under this act. If women don’t know that they can raise voice against crimes, they will never be able to report the crimes.


Also, the significant focus should be implementation and providing women easy access. In most of the cases, women do not report the abuses for the fear of maintenance, the act or the government should promise certain maintenance after the case. One significant part that was left out in the act was mental abuse by the partner and the impact on the mental health of the victimized women. Any victim of such abuse faces a lot of mental health issues such as depression, fear, anxiety, anti-social behavior development, low self-esteem etc. Not every mental abuse can be defined and put under the purview of ‘Acts leading to suicide’. The mental abuses which do not lead to the commission of suicide but make it harsh for a person to properly live or act reasonably are completely ignored as they are difficult and complicated to prove. The mental component cannot and should not be left out while addressing such issues; these can be used as a ground of divorce but it is still necessary for the abuser to get punishment for his wrongful acts. Such mental abuse should be discussed in a wider sense and given a significant part in laws related to abuse. Counselling women and their relatives should also be promoted to overcome the problems faced. Women should be made aware of every type of abuse and schools also should discuss with their students the various forms of abuse. Another significant matter is to address domestic violence in all kinds of relationships including same-sex relationships, live-in relationships, etc. And also abuses can be gender-neutral, as far as we have seen in our society most of the victims are women but that does not neglect the fact that men can also be the victims of such abuse. We should aim at making abuse-related legislation, gender-neutral, then only true progress can be said to make in this aspect.

[1] ‘What is the definition of domestic violence’, Find Law, https://family.findlaw.com/domestic-violence/what-is-domestic-violence.html [2] Amanda Taub, ‘A new Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide’, New York Times, 6April,2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence.html

[3] T. Balaji, ‘Domestic Violence Act, 2005: A critical Analysis’, International Journal of Scientific Research, Volume 9, Issue 5, September 2016, ISSN No. 2277 8179, https://www.worldwidejournals.com/international-journal-of-scientific-research-(IJSR)/recent_issues_pdf/2016/September/September_2016_1492773450__159.pdf.

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