Women and Domestic Violence

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Since the 1990s, there has been increasing concern about violence against women in general and domestic violence in particular, in both developed and developing countries. Domestic violence occurs in all socioeconomic and cultural population subgroups; and in many societies, including in India, women are socialized to accept, tolerate, and even rationalize domestic violence and to remain silent about such experiences. Violence of any kind has a negative impact on the economy of a country through increased disability, medical costs however, because women bear the brunt of domestic violence, they disproportionately bear the health and psychological burdens as well. Victims of domestic violence are abused inside what should be the most secure environment—their own homes—and usually by the persons they trust most. Domestic violence was recognized as a criminal offence in India in 1983. The offence chargeable under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code that relates to domestic violence is any act of cruelty by a husband (or his family) towards his wife. However, until recently, there was no separate civil law addressing the specific complexities associated with domestic violence, the need for protection and maintenance of abused women, and the fact that punishment and imprisonment for the husband may not be the best resolution in every case. Accordingly, after a decade-long process of consultations and revisions, a comprehensive domestic violence law, known as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, took effect in 2006. This act does not restrict domestic relationship to the marital context only but have given new dimensions to domestic relationship as it is defined in broader terms as domestic relationship means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family1. One of the good point of this act is to prove domestic violence aggrieved woman(means any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent)2 has only to prove two points i.e. shared household(means a household where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent and includes such a household whether owned or tenanted either jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent, or owned or tenanted by either of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent or both jointly or singly have any right, title, interest or equity and includes such a household which may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person has any right, title or interest in the shared household)3 and domestic relationship. This act not only includes physical, sexual, verbal but economic violence also. This new act includes few essential features like: • Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands on the woman or her relatives also comes under this act. • The law will cover those women who are or have been in a relationship where both parties have lived together in a shared household, and are related by marriage or adoption. • Preventing one's wife from taking up a job or forcing her to leave job are also under the purview of the Act • One of the most important features of the Act is that it also provides a woman a right to reside in the matrimonial and shared household, whether or not she has any title in the household. • Husbands or live-in partners who would be guilty of domestic violence can be put behind bars for a year and fined Rs 20,000 • And all crimes in the Domestic Violence Act are non-bailable....
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