Legal Regime Against Domestic Violence
By Samata Ingale
Domestic Violence is an issue world wide since it destroys the integrity of the society. In order to irradiate domestic violence many legal strategies have been incorporated. This Article informs about the international norms and legal instruments adopted to fight against domestic Violence.
In this 21st Centaury women have proved their efficiency in various fields. They have played a versatile role of a mother, sister, and daughter and as a wife. Women have always showered their generosity and love for the society. Sacrifice is the second name given to women, since she is ready to give up anything for the betterment of her family. In spite of her being kind and caring, she has been ignored and been victimized by domestic violence. Socialist all over the world have tried to vindicate the position of women by introducing awareness of the rights granted to women. In the recent years many efforts were taken all over the world to introduce legal methods and legal strategies to protect women from domestic violence.
Most socialites are patriarchal and have a male member as the head of the family; exercising control and ownership .So women are considered secondary and hold less rights and importance when it comes up to family matters. Traditionally it is believed that men are superior, in most of the cases women are economically dependable, they are also considered to be physically weak and overly emotional these can be some reasons to the inequality of positions in the family matters.
After a careful study of family issues it has been held that domestic violence is largely a women’s issue and therefore it is imperative that women's voice should be heard .The fear of being driven out of the house silenced many women and made them silent sufferer’s. Legal methods incorporated against Domestic Violence have made it possible for the women to communicate their problems to an authority that is empowered to take an appropriate action. Earlier women had a constant fear that if they talk about or take any actions against domestic violence they shall be abandoned by their family members and also by the society, it has been a normal trend that family matters should never be public. Domestic violence was earlier considered to be a family matter however today it has been excepted as a public issue, even a ordinary person can launce a complain if he has witnessed any kind of domestic violence faced by his relatives, friend or even a neighbor. Legal methods have been used to define Domestic Violence and the definition is wide enough to encompass every possibility of violence. Legal regime against domestic violence ensures that women are not totally at the receiving end of the domestic violence but have some weapon to fight back with.
THE BEGINNING OF LEGAL REGIME AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The UN declared 1975 International Women's Year and 1975-85 Women's Decade. The legal regime against domestic violence started on 18 December 1979, when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women CEDAW. As of June 1999, the Convention has been ratified or acceded by 163 States. CEDAW is the most widely accepted international human rights treaty. Upon ratification of this Convention, it has been noted that state parties all over the world are obliged to adopt legislation prohibiting discrimination, and establish legal protection for women on an equal basis with men, as well as to provide effective remedies against acts of discrimination against women.
In Malaysia the Association of women’s Lawyer to draft the domestic violence act in the year 1989, which was prepared in 1990and submitted as a bill in 1992, initiated a joint committee. The minister of National unity and social Development as well as the Attorney General passed the Bill as an act in 1994. The number of reported cases of violence against women the year after the Act came into force was 7279, which was 8 times the reported cases before the launch of the act. This proved that a legal strategy if adopted has a greater impact and can help to irradiate domestic violence in an effective manner. Many States got motivated due to this and started adopting legal norms against domestic violence.
Singaporean’s realized the need to incorporate an effective and substantial strategy against Domestic violence, so women's Charter was amended in 1997 to provide wider protection to the victims of domestic violence and other family members .In, Singapore additional provisions to the Cr. P. C. where incorporated in 1999, which allowed for evidence to be given through live-video or live-television link in proceedings involving witnesses below the age of 16 years for certain criminal offences; the 1998 amendments to the Penal Code to include a section on enhanced penalties for offences against domestic maids.
June 2004, the Action Plan against Domestic violence was implemented in Norway. The plan specifics 30 measures designed to fulfill the 4 primary objectives.
1) Improving the level of cooperation and knowledge in the support services.
2) Increasing awareness of domestic violence and preventing it through changes in attitudes of the people.
3) Ensuring that victims of domestic violence receive adequate help, protection and justice.
4) Breaking the spiral of violence by strengthening treatment programmers for perpetrators.
The United Kingdom has come up with the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004which received Royal Assent on 15 November 2004.This Act in its first part enunciates the amendment of Part 4 of the Family Law Act 1996, it has also made provisions about homicide and also to make common assault an arrest able offence .The Act makes it possible for the payment of surcharges by offenders and also provides a procedure under which a jury tries only sample counts on an indictment, it has also made provisions about the execution of warrants and the enforcement of orders imposed on conviction. The second part enunciates the amendment of section 58 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and Part 12 of that Act in relation to intermittent custody; to make provision in relation to victims of offences, witnesses of offences and others affected by offences; and to make provision about the recovery of compensation from offenders.
Indian culture describes women as a symbol of purity and sacrifice. They are considered as better half of men and are called as ardhangini. Shastra's say that women are knowledgeable like Sarasvati , symbol of prosperity like Laxmi and powerful like Durga. Cultural values state that women should be respected and worshiped. However one cannot deny, that Domestic Violence is a major issue faced by Indian society since a long time. Dowry death, female feticide, physical and mental torture, sexual trafficking still prevails in the Indian society. Reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Jotiba Phule, Maharshi Karve, Ahilyabai Holkar and many others worked for the betterment of women and promted education amongst women. Due to the efforts made by these reformers mal practices like sati , child marriages, devdasi which where carried under the veil of tradions are now been stopped. Today women are seeking education in various fields and widow remarriages are accepted by the society. The society changed so did the lives of women. They have excelled in various fields and some women like Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi, Lata Mangeshkar, Kiran Desai, Sunita Williams have proved that if given an opportunity women are competent to serve the society. It is observed that today women work in various sectors and prove their excellence but even then women are victims of domestic violence. Therefore it is necessary that we the citizens of India make it our mission to irradiate Domestic Violence from the society. Domestic violence Act 2005 incorporated by the Government of India is a major role played by the Indian society in the Legal Regime against Domestic Violence.
THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 2005
The Domestic Violence Act 2005 is a newly introduced legislature that aims at providing relief to millions of women who are victims of Domestic Violence. This Act contains five chapters and 37 sections.
In this Act the term Domestic violence has been made wide enough to encompass any kind of physical, mental or financial abuse. The Definition of the aggrieved person is equally wide and covers not just the wife but,s a women who is sexual partner of the male irrespective of whether she is his legal wife or not.
Any person who has reason to believe that an act of Domestic violence is being committed can lodge a complain, so the neighbors, social workers, relatives, friends etc can take initiative on behalf of the victim.
FUNCTIONING OF THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 2005
According to Sec 37(2) Protection Officers will operate in every district of the country, to help the victims file a case before magistrate. On receipt of the complaint or information about any domestic violence, the Protection Officer shall record the incident under Domestic Incident report under Sec9 (1b) or Sec10 (2) of this Act. The aggrieved shall sign the report and a copy shall be submitted to the aggrieved. If required, the Protection Officer shall grant medical facilities and safety to the aggrieved.
After scrutinizing the matter, the Protection Officer shall appoint council on behalf of the aggrieved, to present the case before the magistrate. The Act ensures speedy justice as the court has to start proceedings and have the hearing within 3 days of the complaint being field in the court and every case must be disposed of within a period of sixty days of the first hearing. Chapter 11 Sec 22 allows the magistrate to make the respondent pay compensation and damages for injuries, including mental torture and emotional distress. Chapter V Sec 31 gives a penalty up to one-year imprisonment and / or a fine up to Rs. 20,000/- for committing the offence of domestic Violence.
A meticulous observation of the steps taken by the UN in the year 1979 and followed by states like Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, Australia, United Kingdom and India, has made me believe that the approach of the society towards women is gradually changing. All the efforts made shall remunerate, by liberalization of women and by setting equilibrium bet the status of man and women. However it is clear that the problem of domestic violence cannot be solved by legislation alone. I strongly believe that it is socialism that can truly emancipate women, cultural practices and traditions need to be preserved, but equally certain universal values must be protected. It is only a new socialist system that will free both man and women, make them truly equal partners: - economically, socially & politically, so that they can enter into a genuine partnership and thus evolve the new type of family where neither will be a victim nor a villain. Therefore Legal Regime against Domestic violence is not just the incorporation of legislation in different states and punishing the guilty but it is about creating awareness that Domestic violence is crime against the society and creating a need to develop a new social system where man and women can live in harmony, dignity and unity.