Domestic Violence Against the Women

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    • The Delhi High Court has stayed proceedings under the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act in a case where a man moved a local court accusing his wife of adultery, taking a prima facie view that protection under the DV Act is not available to the husband.

    What is Domestic Violence?

    • Domestic violence can be described as the power misused by one adult in a relationship to control another. 
    • It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. 
    • This violence can take the form of physical assault, psychological abuse, social abuse, financial abuse, or sexual assault. 
    • The frequency of the violence can be on and off, occasional or chronic.

    Reasons 

    • Economic dependence has been found to be the central reason. Without the ability to sustain themselves economically, women are forced to stay in abusive relationships and are not able to be free from violence. 
    • Due to deep-rooted values and culture, women do not prefer to adopt the option of separation or divorce. They also fear the consequences of reporting violence and declare an unwillingness to subject themselves to the shame of being identified as battered women. 
      • the everyday realities, obstacles, prejudices, and fears that women experience around sharing and reporting experiences of violence
      • Crucially women did not want to be a ‘burden’ on others, in particular, their families.
    • Lack of information about alternatives also forces women to suffer silently within the four walls of their homes.
    • Domestic violence has sometimes been referred to as the ‘shadow pandemic’ — as the world faced an unprecedented crisis and lockdowns became the norm in several countries, not only did women find themselves locked in with their abusers at home, but they also lost access to support services outside. 
      • The economic distress faced by millions exacerbated the problem.

    Prevalence in India 

    • The phenomenon of domestic violence is widely prevalent in India but remains invisible in the public domain. 
    • the latest round of the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) reveals that 32% of ever-married women aged 18-49 years have ever experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence committed by their husbands, with more rural than urban women reporting experiences of domestic violence.
    • Despite almost a third of women being subject to domestic violence, the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) reports that only 14% of women who have experienced domestic violence have ever sought help; and this number is much lower in the rural areas

    Issues and Concerns

    • Violence against women is a problem across the globe and it is a violation of fundamental freedom and rights, such as the right to liberty and security
    • Despite the law existing on paper, women are still largely unable to access the law in practice. 
    • Its promise and provisions are unevenly implemented, unavailable, and out of reach for most Indian women.
    • Several States are yet to implement Protection officers. And where they are in post, they are under-resourced, under-skilled, and overworked, making their remit impossible.
    • It can have major short and long-term impacts on the physical and mental health of the victim, leading to substantial social and economic costs for governments, communities, and individuals.

    Various Initiatives of Government 

    • Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. 
    • Maintenance of law and order, protection of life and property of citizens including prevention of domestic violence against women is primarily the responsibility of the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations.
    • The Government has ensured that their schemes of One Stop Centres (OSCs), Universalisation of Women Help Line (WHL), Ujjawala Homes, SwadharGreh, Emergency Response Support System (112) and various authorities under women-centric laws such as ‘The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’, ‘The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961’, ‘The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006’, etc. remain operational and available for providing assistance to women.
    •  The Government has also undertaken sensitisation programs for the concerned officials of States and UTs for this purpose.

    Suggestions and Way Forward 

    •  Sharing experiences of violence is a powerful step for women, accessing services and support often resulted in uncertainty, fear, and disappointment.
    • We, as a society, need to come together to take steps that can support individuals who are still living in such conditions. 
      • As we talk about dealing with the effects of domestic violence, providing access to crisis helplines, creating awareness about the signs of abuse, training professionals working in this area, and creating the right support structures that can support victims is our collective responsibility. 
    • Concerted and co-ordinated multisectoral efforts are key methods of enacting change and responding to domestic violence at local and national levels.
    • Programs are required which intend to address battered women’s needs, including those that focus on building self-efficacy and livelihood skills. 
      • The significance of informal and local community networks should be acknowledged in this regard. 
      • The survivors of domestic violence can be involved in program planning and implementation in order to ensure accessibility and effectiveness.

    The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

    •  It came into effect in October 2006 and aims to provide protection and support to victims of domestic violence. 
    • The State Governments are required to appoint Protection Officers, register Service Providers and notify shelter homes and medical facilities for implementation of the Act. 
    • It is a Civil law meant to protect and provide support to victims of domestic violence. 
    • Under the Act, the aggrieved woman can seek various reliefs such as a protection order, residence order, custody order, compensation order, monetary relief, shelter, and medical facilities. 
    • The aggrieved woman can also file a complaint under Section 498A of IPC, where ever relevant. 

    Source: TH