This article is written by Muskan Jain, a 1st year law student of Amity University, Chhattisgarh
Domestic violence involves a pattern of psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. Acts of assaults, threats, humiliation, and intimidation are also considered acts of violence. Globally, the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women. In fact domestic violence is one of the most under reported crimes against women across the globe. Although home may be considered a safe place for some, but it is not safe for all. In fact, with Covid-19 lockdown in place, there has been surge in cases of domestic violence.
The term Domestic violence in modern context, meaning violence in the home, was first used in an address to the parliament of the United Kingdom by Jack Ashley in 1973. Domestic violence is an indoor crime which is used as a synonym for intimate partner violence, usually happens in a intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, non-cohabiting intimate partners. In India, about 70% of women are victims of domestic violence.
INCREASING RISK OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The reports of increasing rates of Domestic Violence have surfaced across the globe. In our society, violence is bursting. With covid-19 lockdown in place, there has been surge in case of domestic violence. Behind the close doors of the homes across our country, people are being tortured, beaten and killed. It is happening in all over the country. In this pandemic not only women suffered from this domestic violence but also children, old age people. The reason for this upsurge happens to be with shelter in-place measures and the contributory factor to this issue are stress and associated risk factors such as unemployment, frustration, reduces income, limited resources, alcohol abuse. Drinking and domestic abuse these two often go hand in hand. The world health organization says alcohol can be a contributing factor. It may increase the frequency and severity of violence and be more likely to result in injury. Last but not the least there are children and pets who reside in 60% or more of household where domestic violence are perpetrated are at great risk of suffering from physical and/or emotional distress.
According to India’s National Commission for women (NCW) the number of domestic violence cases has shot up during the lockdown in India. Between 23 March and 16 April NCW registered 587 domestic violence complaints. Thus there has been a sharp in the distress calls during the Covid-19 lockdown.
- THE GLOBAL TREND AND COVID-19
The issue of domestic violence is not restricted to India only. It is perpetrated all over the world as follow up to the lockdown mandate. The women and children who live with domestic violence have no escape from their abusers during quarantine. Normally, the victim could flee a violent situation by staying elsewhere, but that option is not available right now. The problem has risen alarmingly and steeped across jurisdiction that are from Brazil to Germany, Italy to china.
LAWS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
INDIAN PENAL COURT
In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence by introduction of Section 498-A into the Indian Penal Court. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. A punishment up to 3 years and fine has been prescribed. Harassment for dowry falls within the sweep of latter limb of the section 304-B. Creating a situation driving a woman to commit suicide is also one of the ingredients of ‘cruelty’ dealt under section 306.
THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
The code of criminal procedure, 1973 provides for legal provision regarding relief to the wives and children. The definition also encompasses claim s for compensation arising out of domestic violence and includes maintenance similar to that provided under section 125 of the Code of criminal procedure. The provisions of maintenance of the Code of criminal procedure are applicable to persons belonging to all religions and have no relationship with the personal laws of the parties.
THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, 2005
The Protection of women from domestic violence act was enacted by the parliament of India to protect women from domestic violence. It came into force on 26th October, 2006. This act for the first time provided a definition of “domestic violence” in Indian law. It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not meant to be enforced criminally.
This act is therefore commendable legislation. It contemplates and recognizes wider forms of violence against women.
Domestic violence is defined by section 3 of the Act as “any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
- harms or injure 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
- harasses, harms, injuries or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or any other person related to her or to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
- 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
- Otherwise injuries or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
The Act defines “physical abuse”, “sexual abuse”, “verbal and emotional abuse” and “economic abuse”.
Prior to this act all other instances of domestic violence has been dealt with the offences that the respective acts of violence constituted under the Indian Penal Court without any regard to the gender of the victim. This act is therefore, a bold break from prior legislation and gave a very extensive definition to the term “domestic violence”.
In this tough time of Corona virus which is most unpredictable incident that has occurred across the globe; women are having a real tough time staying indoors. The family violence that women go through in the society is basically a result of age old patriarchal structural prevailing in India. In this difficult time of corona virus rather putting the blame on the government we should promote awareness about domestic violence and highlight the various modes through which complaint could be filed. And if this could be done then India would be a much better place to live in during this tough time.
Image from here