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3 Crucial Domestic Violence Laws In India: Know Them And Protect Yourself

17Aug2017
3 Crucial Domestic Violence Laws In India: Know Them And Protect Yourself
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If you’re a domestic violence survivor in India, you need to learn about the domestic violence laws in India that are designed to protect women like you.

Widespread and rampant violence against women is one of the most pressing problems India struggles with as a society. It is estimated that around 37 per cent of Indian women have experienced either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

In 2013 alone, there were nearly a hundred and twenty thousand reports of domestic violence against women, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.

Furthermore, a 2015 study conducted by the Planning Commission of India surmised that a whopping 84 per cent of women have been abused in their homes at least once.

However, a majority of these domestic violence survivors are far too afraid of social stigma to reveal that they are victims of abuse. This is due to women’s poor social standing in Indian society, where beating a woman for even the smallest things is seen as a justified act.

In turn, this leads to a lack of support, even from close friends, when domestic violence victims seek help in escaping their situation.

Thankfully, the Indian government has already put into place a number of laws against domestic violence in India that are designed to protect Indian women from domestic violence.

Also read: What are the Constitutional & Legal Rights of Women In India? [Updated Sept’19]

If you’re an Indian woman, connect on the SHEROES Helpline, where you can talk about anything personal or professional in your life. Your conversation is 100% confidential and secure.

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3 Crucial Domestic Violence Laws In India

If you’re a domestic violence survivor in India, you need to learn about the domestic violence laws in India that are designed to protect women like you.

If these domestic violence laws are properly enforced, women in India may be able to hope for safer, more peaceful homes within the near future.

1. The Indian Penal Code Amendment in 1983

A special section, numbered 498-A, that officially made domestic violence a criminal offence was added to the Indian Penal Code in 1983. This section of the law specifically covers cruelty towards married women by their husbands or their husbands’ families.

A helpful clause in this section allows women’s relatives to make a complaint about them. This is extremely beneficial in cases where the woman is too afraid to speak up for herself, for reasons such as she could get caught by her husband or simply cannot leave the house.

One kind of cruelty that can be punished is behaviour that causes a woman’s death or serious injury or pushes her to commit suicide. Another kind is the type of harassment relating to intimidating the woman or her relatives to give up her property.

Under the policy, acts of cruelty include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • physical abuse;
  • mental torture through threats to her or her loved ones (such as children);
  • denying the woman food;
  • locking her in or out of the house as punishment; and
  • demanding perverse sexual acts against the woman’s will.

Convicted offenders will be charged with up to three years of prison, as well as a hefty fine.

2. The 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

Created in 2005 and enacted over a year later, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is exactly what the title proclaims.

This is the first law in India to specifically acknowledge every woman’s right to be in a home without violence. In fact, it was seen as a major step forward in securing women’s rights and more effective protection.

It is a long and comprehensive law that details several important policies and procedures meant to help women.

First, it gives a specific definition of domestic violence: actual or threats of physical, mental, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse, as well as harassment regarding dowry or property.

Women are given the right to seek protection against such acts, and their relatives can file a complaint about them against husbands who break the law.

Second, a woman’s right to reside in their “matrimonial household” is clearly recognized. She cannot be evicted from it as she rightfully shares it with her husband.

If she is evicted, she has the right to seek monetary compensation and safe shelter, as well as free legal and medical aid.

Lastly, both NGOs and divisions of the Indian Government – such as the National Commission for Women – took the initiative to organize awareness seminars that could be easily attended by women who are affected by this act, e.g., women in high-risk areas.

Violators of this law will either be mandated to compensate the woman financially or will be served a restraining order to keep them away from the complainant.

Advocate Meera Kaura Patel

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Types Of Domestic Violence

On the SHEROES app for women, Advocate Meera Kaura Patel provided a domestic violence meaning, explained the types of domestic violence, and how to claim protection and assistance against domestic violence.

Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, domestic violence is defined as follows.

Any act, omission or commission, or conduct of the husband/in-laws shall constitute domestic violence in case it –

(a) harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the woman or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or

(b) harasses, harms, injures or endangers the woman with a view to force her or her family to meet any demand for dowry or other property; or

(c) has the effect of threatening the woman or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned above;

(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the woman.

What amounts to physical abuse?

“Physical abuse” means any act or conduct which causes bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the woman and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force.

What amounts to sexual abuse?

“Sexual abuse” means an act of sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman.

What amounts to verbal and emotional abuse?

“Verbal and emotional abuse” means:

(a) insults, ridicule, humiliation, name-calling and insults or ridicule especially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and

(b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the woman is interested.

What amounts to economic abuse?

“Economic abuse” means:

(a) deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the woman is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the woman requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the woman and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the woman, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;

(b) disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the woman has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the woman or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the woman; and

(c) prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the woman is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.

Information on rights of aggrieved persons under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

If you are beaten up, threatened or harassed in your home by a person with whom you reside in the same house, then you are facing domestic violence.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, gives you the right to claim protection and assistance against domestic violence.

You can receive protection and assistance under the Act, if the person(s) with whom you are/were residing in the same house, commits any of the following acts of violence against you or a child in your care and custody –

Physical Violence:

For example-

  1. Beating
  2. Slapping
  3. Hitting
  4. Biting
  5. Kicking
  6. Punching
  7. Pushing
  8. Shoving or
  9. Causing bodily pain or injury in any other manner.

Sexual Violence:

For example –

  1. Forced sexual intercourse
  2. Forces you to look at pornography or any other obscene pictures or material
  3. Any act of sexual nature to abuse, humiliate or degrade you, or which is otherwise violative of your dignity or any other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature
  4. Child sexual abuse

Verbal and Emotional Violence:

For example –

  1. Insults
  2. Name-calling
  3. Accusations on your character or conduct etc.
  4. Insults for not having a male child
  5. Insults for not bringing dowry etc.
  6. Preventing you or a child in your custody from attending school, college or any other educational institution
  7. Preventing you from taking up a job
  8. Forcing you to leave your job
  9. Preventing you or a child in your custody from leaving the house
  10. Preventing you from meeting any person in the normal course of events
  11. Forcing you to get married when you do not want to marry
  12. Preventing you from marrying a person of your own choice
  13. Forcing you to marry a particular person of his/their own choice
  14. A threat to commit suicide
  15. Any other verbal or emotional abuse

Economic Violence:

For example –

  1. Not providing you money for maintaining you or your children
  2. Not providing food, clothes, medicines etc. for you or your children
  3. Stopping you from carrying on your employment or
  4. Disturbing you in carrying on your employment
  5. Not allowing you to take up an employment or
  6. Taking away your income from your salary, wages etc. or
  7. Not allowing you to use your salary, wages etc.
  8. Forcing you out of the house you live in
  9. Stopping you from accessing or using any part of the house
  10. Not allowing the use of clothes, articles or things of general household use
  11. Not paying rent if staying in rented accommodation, etc.

Domestic Violence Law

3. The 2013 Criminal Law Amendment

As a response to the requests made by the Justice Verma Committee, a small commission named after and headed by one of India’s most highly regarded jurists, a lengthy list of amendments to the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act were introduced in this 2013 act.

The aim of the amendment was to provide harsher and swifter punishment for those criminals who committed abuse against women.

Details regarding sexual assault and rape were clarified and added onto. For instance, “rape” was given a better and more exhaustive legal definition, to include non-consensual penetration using non-sexual objects, as well as non-penetrative sexual acts.

Penalties for offences such as rape, assault, and sexual harassment were increased. In particular, heavier sentences were declared for rapists, even including the death sentence for particularly disturbing cases, such as gang rape where the victim was left in a vegetative state after the crime.

New offences that are punishable by law were introduced by the amendment as well. These include, but are not limited to:

  • acid attacks (the act of throwing acid upon a woman with the intention of disfiguring, maiming, or outright killing her);
  • stalking;
  • voyeurism (spying with prurient or indecent interest); and
  • publicly and forcefully disrobing a woman

However, despite the commission’s recommendations, the amendment failed to address the issue of marital rape. This exception basically assumes that marriage automatically means the woman will always consent to her husband’s sexual desires.

This ridiculous notion implies that rape cannot happen within a marriage, when in fact it does, and even happens quite frequently to Indian women.

SHEROES Helpline

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Crime Against Women Cells

This is an initiative of the Indian government to better help female domestic abuse survivors. In every district’s police station, a Crime Against Women (CAW) cell was put in place.

Women suffering from domestic violence may approach these specialized help desks for direct assistance from the police, whether to file an official complaint or follow up on one. Each one is headed by an assistant commissioner.

This program began in 2010, as the Indian government’s answer to steadily growing numbers of abuse that targeted women.

If you have any legal issues or queries about your legal rights, post your comments on the SHEROES app for women and get advice on legal protection against domestic violence in India from a domestic violence lawyer,

Ask The Advocate

If you’re afraid of contacting the police to lodge a domestic violence complaint, connect with SHEROES Champion, Adv Megha Batra, or post a question in the Ask Out Legal Community on the SHEROES app for women.

legal protection against domestic violence in India

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In Summary

While the Indian government has made significant efforts in reducing the largely unchecked epidemic of violence against women, there is still a long way to go.

Merely passing laws against domestic violence in India to protect women from abuse is obviously not enough to achieve success. Even after the 2013 amendment, horrific crimes such as gang rapes continue to happen and happen publicly.

The numbers have even continued to rise, though this may be because of increased awareness among women, resulting in greater reporting of domestic violence overall.

A necessary step in moving forward lies in changing the overall mindset of society towards women. There needs to be more education on how to treat women as equals, instead of as lesser beings that deserve to be punished for the tiniest mistakes.

If the Indian government can combine proper enforcement of their existing domestic violence laws with thoughtful gender education programs, we could be looking at a safer and brighter future for Indian women in the next few decades.

About the Author:

Jon works in the marketing team at Loch Employment Law – The Employment Law Lawyers in the UK. He is fond of reading, writing & meeting people. In a former life, Jon worked as a content specialist and has good knowledge about employment policies & law. You can catch up with Jon at Loch Employment Law London office for any advice related to employment laws.

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Crucial Laws Against Domestic Violence In India

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