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Published : May 09, 2016 | Author : chitrita21
Category : Woman Issues | Total Views : 1048 | Rating :


Journey of Women Empowerment: Miles To Go


Domestic Violence: The truth within the four walls of the bedroom

It is not a myth that even today in Indian culture equality of gender is not rampant and the female gender is still considered secondary over the male gender. A lot of questions emerges out of this knowledge, but the researchers have focused on one of it i.e. Does attitude towards domestic violence change with the change of lifestyle of the concerned family?

The paper has concentrated only on one aspect of domestic violence that is violence by husband and in-laws towards the wife.

The paper studies the change in attitude as well as occurrence of domestic violence with respect to the different lifestyle of people of Indian origin.

The paper starts with defining what domestic violence is followed up with the two criteria which the researchers have shortlisted as basis for study of different lifestyles.

The two categories which have been shortlisted for the study of the topic are:

· Difference of domestic violence between Resident Indians and NRI’s.
· Difference of domestic violence within India. The researchers have further bifurcated the second criteria into two segregates:

a) Difference of domestic violence between rural and urban India.
b) Difference of domestic violence between high and low castes within India.

To study the difference of domestic violence between Resident Indians and NRI’s the paper will concentrate on Canada and United Kingdom’s laws as compared to Indian laws. Case laws of only NRI’s will be studied to be in rhythm with the first criteria, while studying the laws of the two mentioned foreign countries.

With the knowledge which the researchers have acquired with the study of various articles, surveys etc and the abundance of personal experience of living in an Indian society since birth, it can be inferred that domestic violence still prevails in our society. The degree as well as the number of situations has come down and that is because of the rise of legal action and social stigma.

“Torture is an anguish squeezing in your chest cold as eyes and heavy as stone paralyzing as sleep dark to the abyss. Torture is despair and fair and rage and hate. If it is not prevented with heavy hand the people will lose faith in the system of judiciary, and that will be the sad day for anyone to reckon with”. – Supreme Court

The unheard cry of an abused woman, the unheard wail of a beaten up lady, this is the fate of married women. Welcome to India, the real India. Social stigma is what makes the walls of the bedrooms the most potent absorbers of the violence that happens within them. The truth is not hidden, the fact remains unchanged, but the prevalence of silence about the same is what makes this heinous crime prevail.

A society where the position of husband is considered equal to god, will never consider god to be wrong. A radical natured wife is a taboo in our society. the society would not change until the taboos are broken until the mentality is changed, there has to be a step, a bold step, taken to move towards a just society which believes in humanity more than male dominance, where a human is a human first and a male or a female later.

Does a beaten up wife know the existence of the law against Domestic Violence? The answer is simple it does not matter. In the rural areas where there is a lack of knowledge of the laws protecting women rights the crime prevails, but even in the urban areas or for that matter even the metropolis where there is full knowledge of the existing laws, the crime still prevails. Mere existence of laws does not point towards a just society. It is the people who make a society just.

The paper majorly deals with existing laws in India and the extent to which they have been successful in changing the status of married women in India. After this; one chapter will talk about some laws and prevalence of domestic violence in other countries just as a tool for comparison with India.

Domestic violence
To put simply domestic violence can also be classified as family violence. This type of violence includes all kinds of violence such as physical, sexual, emotional and economic towards any family member. Majorly it includes wife abuse, abuse of elders and children abuse.

Domestic violence as defined in Section 3 of Protection for Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.

· Any form of abuse causing harm or injury to the physical and / or mental health of the woman or compromising her life and safety
· Any harassment for dowry or to meet any other unlawful demand.
· Threat to cause injury or harm.
· The overall facts & circumstances of the case must be considered by the Court.

Classification of domestic violence
1) Physical and Sexual Abuse

· Physical Abuse:
i. Any act or conduct that causes bodily injury or hurt.
ii. Includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force. E.g.: Beating, Kicking, Punching etc.

· Sexual Abuse:
i. Any humiliating or degrading sexual act.

2) Verbal & Emotional Abuse and Economic Abuse

· Verbal and Emotional Abuse
i. Insults, ridicule and threat causing harm or injury.
ii. E.g.: name calling, ostracizing, blaming a woman for not having a male child etc.

· Economic Abuse
i. Deprivation of the basic economic or financial necessities of life and
ii. Entitlements that causes injury or harm.
iii. Including prohibiting/restricting access to the shared household. E.g.: denial of food, disposing of household assets to the detriment of the
iv. Woman, disposing off her own assets (such as Stridhan) against her will etc.

Domestic violence in India

Right of women against torture of husband and others - although there is no specific provision in the constitution prohibit in torture, but a combined reading of article 21, sections 330 and 331 of Indian Penal Code and sec 29 of The Police Act forbids the practice of torturing by police. The word torture means “any act by which severe pain or sufferings, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a by the ‘strong’ on the ‘weak’ person for such purposes has obtaining from him or a third person”. It does not include pain or sufferings arising only from inherent and incidental to lawful sanctions. Custodial torture is naked violation of human dignity, and whenever the human dignity is wounded, civilization takes step backward. The flag of humanity must on each such occasion fly half-mast”.In other words ‘torture’ is an act showing the darker side of human civilization and which further shows that the impact of such darker side is still alive in the 21st century. It is a desire to destroy the humanity. In D.K Basu, the SC said that “torture is an anguish squeezing in your chest cold as eyes and heavy as stone paralyzing as sleep dark to the abyss. Torture is despair and fair and rage and hate. If it is not prevented with heavy hand the people will lose faith in the system of judiciary, and that will be the sad day for anyone to reckon with. Torture by husband may occur when his wife is subjected by him to merciless beatings, with lathis, and whips. She is kicked, punched and trampled on the ground and sometimes electric shocks and applied on the body including her private parts. Her hairs are pulled out and the open shouts with abusive languages. Thus by such acts he creates terror in a mind. Wife has a right to claim compensation for such torture in addition to other legal remedies under the Act.

Reason for Domestic Violence in India as defined under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, 1872

· Demand for Dowry and Ill-treatment

(i) The wife petitioned for divorce on the ground of persistent demand made on her by her husband and in-laws. The High Court took the view that there was nothing wrong in these demands as money was needed by the husband for his personal use and in such a case wife should extend help. Reversing the judgment, the Supreme Court held that demand for dowry is prohibited under the law. That itself was bad enough.

(ii) The husband and his parents were greedy people. Their desire for dowry was insatiable. They went on demanding dowry even after two years of marriage, and since the parents of wife could not meet these, they started ill-treating her with a view to coercing her parents to give dowry. The Delhi High Court held that this amounted to cruelty.

· Demand for money

Demand for money after four years of marriage for a specific purpose, no where related to marriage demand but causing of harassment to deceased wife so much so that she was bound to end her life is sufficient for conviction under section 498A.

· Drunkenness

No doubt drinking is a constituent of culture all over the world, and is almost a cult in certain societies. Yet, even here as elsewhere a habit of excessive drinking is a vice and cannot be considered a reasonable wear and tear of married life. No reasonable person marries to bargain to endure habitual drunkenness, a disgusting conduct. And yet it is not an independent ground of any matrimonial relief in India. But it may constitute treatment with cruelty, if indulged in by a spouse and continued, in spite of remonstrance by the other. It may cause great anguish and distress to the wife who never suspected what she was bargaining for and may sooner or later find living together not only miserable but unbearable. If it was so, she may leave him and may, apart from cruelty, even complain of constructive desertion.

Wife abuse is a widely practiced crime in India. But the worst part remains is the acceptance by the society, which is clearly visible from the lack of suits filed as compared to the actual amount of this heinous crime happening in the society.

If we look carefully at the three reasons, for this act, shortlisted they are very much highly present even today in the Indian society. As will be covered later the amount of laws and provisions present for protection of married women in India there has been no or minimal decline in the amount of this act actually happening.

Laws and provisions for women against domestic violence in India

1. Indian Penal Code (IPC)Section 498-A: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty

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 for fine.

In this section “cruelty” can be defined as any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman or harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

2. Section 498A vis-a-vis Section 113 of Evidence Act

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code or section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act has not introduced invidious classification qua the treatment of a married woman by her husband or relatives of her husband vis-a-vis the other offenders. On the other hand, such women form a class apart whom from those who are married more than seven years earlier to the commission of such offence, because, with the passage of time after marriage and birth of children, there are remote chances of treating a married woman with cruelty by her husband or his relatives. Thus, the classification is reasonable and has close nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e., eradication of the evil of dowry in the Indian social set-up and to ensure that the married women live with dignity at their matrimonial homes

3. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)

Section 125 of CrPC (Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents) states that if any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, who in turn is unable to maintain herself, will be liable for punishment.

A Magistrate of' the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife or such child, father or mother, at such monthly rate as such magistrate thinks fit, and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct.

4. Right Under the Indian Constitution

Article 15(3) in The Constitution of India 1949 States that nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children

5. Protection for Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

Section 3 of this act defines domestic violence as any form of abuse causing harm or injury to the physical and / or mental health of the woman or compromising her life and safety. Also any harassment for the reason of dowry or to meet any other unlawful demand by the in-laws or husband is considered as domestic violence. Even any threat to cause injury or harm is considered part of Domestic violence.

And the reliefs for these women are provided under Section 18-23 of this act. The reliefs and orders contain such as protection orders, residence orders, monetary relief, custody order, compensation order and interim/ ex parte orders etc.

To study the change in attitude as well as occurrence of domestic violence with respect to the different lifestyle of people of Indian origin three interviews of three different married ladies were taken. One was from rural Rajasthan, one from a highly urbanized area of India and one NRI from Canada.

1. Prabha Devi from Neembli, Rajasthan (Rural India)

Q. What is the status of married women in your society?
A. Women are considered as incarnation of goddesses like Laxmi etc. But that is the perception which has long changed. Now this only remains in word and not in deed. They are considered equal to assets who do or are rather supposed to do a lot of hard manual work. I speak on behalf of the majority and not the whole society I reside in.

Q. How is physical abuse of wife accepted by her and society she dwells in?
A. I guess we are supposed to stay quite in the scene of physical violence on us by our husbands, as it has become a sort of obligation on us to be the instrument via which the husbands can take out there anger.

But one thing need to be understood is that physical abuse is not very prevalent and the above statement is only on behalf of the women with whom this kind of crime happens.

The major reasons the abused wife choose to remain quite is that this crime is widely accepted by the society. There is no such reason as to why it is accepted, it is just accepted.

Q. How many abused married women actually opt for a legal suit?
A. Court?? Can one actually do that? I have got no idea as to what is the procedure or is it actually possible to prosecute a husband for abusing his own wife.

2. Mrs. Komal Surana from Jaipur, Rajasthan (Urban India)

Q. What is the status of married women in your society?
A. Women are considered as homemakers because of whom a family stays intact and who are supposed to look after children, the house where they live etc.

But any radical natured married woman is still not very much accepted by the society as such but nobody is vocal about it and generally hides their emotions in public sphere.

Q. How is physical abuse of wife accepted by her and society she dwells in?
A. Physical abuse is not prevalent in our society and even if it is, it is not known to anyone or public at large because I don’t know any such case.

Q. Please comment on emotional abuse of wife in your society.
A. But yes, emotional abuse is present to some extent where abusing, stopping women or wife from working in areas not considered appropriate (sales girl, air-hostess etc.), stopping them from wearing certain dress codes etc.

This sort of emotional abuse is totally accepted by the society as well as the women themselves.

And the reasons are simple such as customs, traditions etc. (Sanskriti, Mariyada etc.)

Q. How many abused married women actually opt for a legal suit?
A. As I have already stated earlier that the presence of physical violence is not known, so even if it is present, it is never reported.

Emotional abuse can be used as grounds for a suit? I do not know about that and as far as I know nobody else also knows about this.

3. Mrs. Priyanka Bhati from Vancouver, Canada (NRI)

Q. What is the status of married women in your society?
A. In truth here, in one society exists two different societies, i.e., the Canadians and the NRI’s. In open or in public sphere both claim to consider women as equals and no different from men except for the biological structure.

But the truth is that, inside the four walls of the house the NRI’s consider women exactly what they were considered back in India.

Q. How is physical abuse of wife accepted by her and society she dwells in?
A. Physical abuse is rare but not unheard of in our NRI society of Canada. Here and there, one or more cases keep coming up.

Q. Please comment on emotional abuse of wife in your society.
A. Emotional abuse is also present to a great extent, especially abusing verbally, stopping the women from doing things like working late nights etc.

All this is accepted by the society in the name that even staying away from India should not make us less Indian.

Q. How many abused married women actually opt for a legal suit?
A. Cases are filed by some people where the limit is crossed, but it is a rarity because of social stigma.

“You can take a man out of a conservative society, but you cannot take conservative society of a man.”

The Indian society has always been biased towards the masculine gender. By giving laws for protection of women from age old customs and traditions which undermine them, you do not actually make a society free from the evils in fact it becomes more dangerous from the fact that all the atrocities are then shifted into extreme private sphere and that is where the abuse goes unnoticed and cries go unheard and the crime goes unpunished.

Three interviews of the married ladies were taken. They were from three totally different lifestyles namely rural India (Neembli, Rajasthan), Urban India (Jaipur, Rajasthan) and NRI (Vancouver, Canada). The only thing common between them was their Indian Origin.

By comparing the three interviews it can be seen that there were differences as to the knowledge of laws, or public knowledge of the abuse happening in the house etc., but the basic rule remains that the mentality has no changed a bit. The acceptance by the society is still there; the acceptance by the abused is still present. It is not the laws that can change the society but the society itself that can change its mentality.

“Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself”– Gloria Steinem

Masculine gender would never give equal status to women. It is the women who have to take the responsibility themselves of getting it.

# D.K Basu vs. State of West Bengal, AIR 1997 SC 610: 1997 (1) SCC 416
# W.e.f 26th October 2006
# http://www.lawyerscollective.org/files/protection_of_women_from_domestic_violence_act_2005.pdf
# (accessed February 18, 2012)
# Section 3 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
# Stridhan is a Sanskrit word meaning a traditional practice that was primarily meant to provide women with some
# level of economic security in adverse situations like divorce, widowhood, etc.
# W.e.f. 1st January 1862
# Aeltermesh Rein vs. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 1768: (1998) 4 SCC 54
# D.K Basu vs. State of West Bengal, AIR 1997 SC 610: 1997 (1) SCC 416
# Munshi Singh Gautam vs. State of M.P., AIR 2005 SC 402 (405)
# Prof. S. R. Bhansali, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
# (India Publishing House), 35.
# www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/indianpenalcode/s498a.html (accessed February 19, 2012)
# Shobha Rani v. Madhukar, AIR 1988 SC 121; see also Prakash Kaur v. Harijinderpal Singh, AIR 1999 Raj 46.
# Adarsh Parkash v. Sarita, AIR 1987 Del 203.
# State of Punjab v. Daljit Singh, 1999 Cr LJ 2723 (P&H).
# Rita v. Brij Kishore, AIR 1984 Del 291.
# www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/indianpenalcode/s498a.html (accessed February 19, 212)
# Inserted by Act 46 of 1983, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 25-12-1983).
# Inserted by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 12 (w.e.f. 19-11-1986).
# W.e.f. 24th September 2001
# http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/CrPc/s125.html (accessed February 19, 2012)
# W.e.f 26th January 1950
# http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1603957/( accessed February 17, 2012)
# W.e.f 26th October 2006
# Non Resident Indian
# Sanskriti is a Sanskrit word for "culture”.
# Maryada is a Sanskrit word for “A limit, boundary, line, border; by extension of meaning, the content or outline of
# the intrinsic moral law, including likewise ethics, or established customs or rules, and hence signifying rectitude”

Writing award This article has been Awarded Certificate of Excellence for Original Legal Research work by our Penal of Judges

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