Author's Intoduction :
Name- Tiara Rose Mary, 1st year student of BSL LL.B. I.L.S Law College, Pune
Title of the Paper- The Victim
Course- BSL L.L.B
Year- 1st year
Institute- I.L.S Law College Pune
Correspondence Address- Tiara Rose Mary , Roll No. 91, I BSL - A, I.L.S Law College, Law College Road, Pune, Maharashtra
Mob- 2 08421582400
Women in our country, even after six decades of India’s independence, continue to be helpless victims in every walk of their life. They are being tortured and beleaguered physically as well as mentally everywhere and every time. In our society, either in domestic sphere or in outer world women from all walks of life has been criminally exploited. Women who constitute one-half of the society and without whose presence the survival of the world would have been impossible, have ironically been made a subject of sexual harassment and are going through hell in this male dominated world. Almost every day a case of sexual assault is being reported in the daily newspaper. As per the national commission for women, every twenty – six minutes a woman is molested, every thirty-four minutes a rape takes place and every forty- two minutes an incident of sexual harassment takes place.
Crimes against women are as old as the civilization and equally ancient are the efforts to combat and arrest them. Women in India through the ages have been victimized, humiliated, tortured and exploited. Throughout the world, millions of women live in conditions of abject deprivation of and attacks against their fundamental human rights for no reason other than that they are women. Being a member of the human family, she has the right to be treated as human from womb to tomb.
Violence against women, more particularly within the domestic environment has become a serious social issue and of our concern. Domestic Violence occurs in all geographical areas of India and in all socio-economic and cultural groups. Millions of women in India suffer beatings and verbal abuse at home. It directly affects the victims, their children, their families and has repercussions on the quality of their life. Domestic Violence means that any act of violence that result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, perpetrated by their male partners whether they are married or not and whether they live together or not. In fact, violence against women is a discrimination against the women community which is largely related to cultural stereotypes. It is one of the strongest expressions of gender stereotypes.
In this backdrop the passage of law on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is a real breakthrough for the women in India. However legislation alone cannot protect women from the epidemic of domestic violence. Indubitably, the policies and laws are important especially in reducing further harm and showing care for victims. However these do not prevent violence against the women as intervention happens after the violence has already occurred. As such there is an urgent need of the hour to ensure that the laws concerning crimes against women aremore effective, more stringent, and more deterrent so as to prevent violence against women from occurring in the first instance itself.
Domestic Violence is universal and is not just confined to age, race, social class, culture or country. It involves abuse of power. Domestic Violence occurs when a family member, partner, or ex- partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other. It can be exhibited in many forms including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence. Forced confinement of a wife within the four walls of home is one of the forms of domestic violence. When a woman’s movement is restricted, it tantamounts to domestic violence. An extreme form of domestic violence is dowry death where young and innocent married girls are brutally murdered for not satisfying the dowry demands. ‘Female infanticide’ or forced termination of pregnancy is a specific form of domestic violence. In view of Indian Penal Code, female infanticide or forcing the wife to terminate her pregnancy is one of the domestic violence which is recognized as an offence under the IPC.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:-
Every woman has a right to live in a ‘violence – free’ environment. Before the passing of the Act, there was no express recognition of domestic violence in any law. In fact, the entire concept of domestic violence was restricted to cruelty and that too only to a married woman. Thus a dire need was felt to enact a legislation keeping in view the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India to provide a remedy which is intended to protect the women from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the society. Accordingly, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was passed to provide more effective protection of rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution of India, who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. By enacting the Act the definition of woman covers bride as well as woman related with male in terms of family relation. Thus the word ‘woman’ has been given a wider scope.
The Act is primarily meant to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from violence at the hands of husband or male companions or his relatives. The Act extends its helping hands to women who are daughters, sisters, widows or mothers. Though the law protects women involved in live in relationships, the government does not propose to legalize it. It is clear that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, has been enacted for safeguarding the rights of a woman guaranteed under the Constitution of India and to provide protection against the victimization from Domestic Violence. Therefore, interpretation of the provisions keeping this pious principle in mind is required.However this principle cannot accept that in domestic violence always a woman is a victim or a sufferer party. There may be case whereby misusing the sympathetic and favorable attitude of the society male partners may be harassed and thereafter if the court of law gives a second push to the male partner it may cause disorder in the society. In view of this the court in the matter of ‘Madhusudan Bhardwaj and ors. v. Mamta Bhardwaj’ opined that at the time of administering such laws, the courts are required to be vigilant enough in deciding the dispute as to which part of the family is a victim of the domestic violence.
Although many countries have passed laws that treat domestic violence as a crime with consequences for the perpetrators and services for the victim many of these laws are neither implemented nor enforced. This is partially because of a universal belief in the patriarchal structure of family and the view that domestic violence is a private matter. In many countries it is not considered a crime and if a husband sexually assaults his wife, she is expected to submit. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a piece of social legislation. The success of any social legislation requires that first a social climate must be created and made conducive. Although the Act makes it a duty of the Central Government as well as the State Governments to give wide publicity to the provisions of this Act through media at regular intervals, the same has not been done so far. Further, there is a lack of proper infrastructure to effectively implement this Act.
Legal reforms are meaningless unless they are preceded by social reforms. The emancipation of women requires more than the laws, breaking free from shackles of social taboos, education and economic independence. The empowerment of women by itself cannot place women on equal footing with men, the need of hour is the change of social attitudes towards women. The crimes against women are to be dealt with strongest hands. “Rightly” said by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, “our women have a very great part to play in the progress of our country as the mental and physical contact of women with life is much more lasting and comprehensive than that of men.” It is imperative that the battle against the menace of domestic violence has to be waged first by social scientists than by the lawyers, and it requires more the use of classrooms than the court rooms. There is a dire need to recognize, resist and report the malaise of domestic violence. By just enacting the law, is not the way to eliminate the atrocities over the women in the society. Sincere efforts are required to be made by all the concerned agencies particularly the non-governmental organizations, law enforcement officials, legal aid authorities, and the government itself to fully empower the women in all respects, to achieve the desired objectives of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Dr. Surinder Mediratta, ‘Crimes against Women and the Law’.
A.K Singh, ‘Domestic Violence against Women in India’.
Rinki Battacharya, ‘Behind Closed Doors : Domestic Violence in India’.