PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a historic act in the Indian Penal Code. Through the Act, the Indian State for the first time acknowledges the concept and the subsequent need to penalize ‘domestic violence’.
The Act was enacted to curb the rising amounts of domestic violence cases in the country. It was officiated and brought into force from 26 October 2006. Apart from physical violence, the Act recognizes other forms of violence as well including abuse that are psychological, emotional, economical, and sexual in nature that occurs within the boundaries of family or co-habitation.
The Act has some salient features that one needs to take notice of:
- HOLISTIC: The Act is extensive and holistic in the way that it defines exactly what falls under its purview.
- Physical Abuse: Actions which “cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person”.
- Sexual Abuse: Action or behavior of the sexual nature which “abuses, humiliates, degrades, or violates the dignity of a woman”.
- Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Conduct that threatens or insults the existence of a woman.
- Economic Abuse: Continued deprivation of financial resources that are essential for the survival of the victim and her children, or taking over of assets that originally belonged to the woman in a domestic relationship.
The Domestic Violence Act is extensive and defines what kinds of abuse falls under its purview. Source- orfonline.org
- ADEQUATE RESOURCE AVAILABILITY: The victims can avail of medical facilities, shelter homes, and legal aid under the act. Both parties are also entitled to counseling if required.
- PROTECTION: Qualified Protection Officers, preferably women, are to be appointed by the government who could respond to a domestic violence report as soon as possible and direct the victims to adequate resources as and when required. There is also the provision of Protection Orders that the victim can use which restricts the abuser from communicating with the victim.
- Monetary Relief: The perpetrator is also liable to compensate or provide relief to the victim of the losses they had incurred in the legal procedures and other harms caused.
- Custodial Rights: The matter of custody of the children rests on the decision of the court. Typically, custodial rights remain with the victim while the perpetrator may be given visitation rights.
DRAWBACKS & CRITICISMS
One of the most prominent criticisms of the Act has been about the definition of an “aggrieved person”. Critics say that only women’s rights are recognized in the Act and the rights of an aggrieved man are overlooked. It is, however, important to keep in mind that women do form a much larger proportion of cases of domestic violence victims and have lower access to resources outside of the Act.