Unveiling the Shadows: Domestic Violence in India

November 29, 2023
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Domestic violence is a deeply rooted social issue that has plagued societies worldwide, including India. It refers to any form of physical, emotional, sexual, or economic abuse inflicted upon individuals within the confines of their own homes. This abhorrent behaviour, often perpetrated by intimate partners or family members, violates the fundamental rights and dignity of victims, leaving lasting scars both physically and emotionally.

The present article aims to prevent before the readers how grave the problem of domestic violence has become, what is the governing law to regulate domestic violence, what are the important Supreme Court judgments in this regard to protect and prevent women from domestic violence.

Magnitude of the Problem

India, with its vast population and diverse cultural fabric, unfortunately witnesses a significant number of domestic violence cases each year. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, over 100,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2021 alone. However, it is important to note that these figures only represent reported cases, and the actual number of incidents may be much higher due to underreporting caused by social stigma, fear, and lack of awareness.

Legal Framework on Domestic Violence

Recognizing the gravity of domestic violence, India enacted the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) in 2005. This social legislation has been enacted to recognize the following international conventions and constitutional provisions.

  1. United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993): This declaration recognizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and calls upon governments to take action to prevent and eliminate such violence.
  2. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979): CEDAW is an international treaty that mandates state parties to take measures to prevent and address violence against women, including domestic violence. It requires countries to enact legislation and provide support services for victims.
  3. Article 15: Elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, cast, sex, place of birth.
  4. Article 15(3): The duty of the state to make special provisions for women and children.
  5. Article 21: Right to life and liberty to every person.

This landmark legislation aimed to provide comprehensive protection and relief to women who are victims of violence within their homes. The PWDVA defines domestic violence broadly, encompassing physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and economic abuse.

Under this law, victims can seek various remedies such as protection orders, residence orders, monetary relief, and custody orders for their children. Additionally, the Act mandates the establishment of Protection Officers and Domestic Violence Crisis Centers at the district level to ensure prompt assistance and support for survivors.

Supreme Court Judgment on the issue of domestic violence:

The Supreme Court of India has played a pivotal role in shaping the legal landscape surrounding domestic violence.

  • In the landmark case of Indra Sarma vs. V.K.V. Sarma (2013), the court held that the PWDVA aims to provide an effective remedy to victims and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner that ensures their protection and welfare. The court emphasized that the Act should be interpreted liberally to fulfill its objectives and protect women from all forms of violence within the domestic sphere. It also stressed the importance of sensitizing law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and society at large about the gravity of domestic violence and the need for prompt action and support for survivors.
  • Another important case is Lalita Toppo v State of Jharkhand (2018)wherein the Supreme Court held that Domestic Violence Act also includes live-in-relationships and not legally wedded wives.
  • In the case of Hiral P. Harsona v Kusum Harsona (2016), in this case the Supreme Court categorically held that the term adult male under Section 2(q) of the Domestic Violence Act include adult female also.

Challenges and Way Forward

Despite the existence of legal provisions, domestic violence remains a persistent problem in India. Several challenges hinder effective implementation of the law, including patriarchal norms, lack of awareness, inadequate resources, and delays in the judicial process. Additionally, cultural factors and societal pressure often discourage victims from reporting abuse, perpetuating a cycle of silence and suffering.

To address these challenges, it is crucial to focus on raising awareness about domestic violence, promoting gender equality, and educating individuals about their rights and available legal remedies. Public campaigns, community-based interventions, and school curricula that emphasize respect, empathy, and non-violence can play a pivotal role in transforming societal attitudes and behaviours.

Furthermore, strengthening the support infrastructure for survivors is essential. This includes establishing more crisis centers, increasing the number of trained professionals, such as counselors and legal aid providers, and ensuring efficient coordination between various stakeholders involved in addressing domestic violence cases.

Domestic violence in India is a grave issue that demands urgent attention. While legislative measures have been put in place to safeguard victims’ rights, the challenge lies in their effective implementation. It is imperative to foster a society that condemns violence within homes and empowers survivors to break free from the cycle of abuse. By fostering awareness, providing support systems, and preventive measures, the issues of domestic violence can be eliminated from Indian society.

Significance of the Topic

The topic is very significant for the judiciary aspirants. It highlights the grave violation of human rights of women and also deprivation of their Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, judiciary coaching suggest that the issue must be prepared by the judiciary aspirants. Judiciary coaching also suggest that topic may be prepared with the essay perspective.

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