Recourse for a victim of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is sadly a reality in Indian society, a truism. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, enacted in 2005, aimed at protecting women from domestic violence.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, aimed at protecting women from abuse within the domestic environment. The definition of 'domestic violence' is well written and wide-ranging. It covers under its ambit physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse. It should be noted that it is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not to penalize criminally.

Picture Courtesy- Fabrinkt Law LLC

Important concepts in the Act.

  • 'Aggrieved person' - section 2(a) of the act defines an aggrieved person as any women who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic abuse.
  • 'Domestic relationship' - the act defines  'domestic relationship' under section 2(f) which means a relationship between two persons who live or have, in past, lived with each other in a shared household.
  • 'Respondent' - according to section 2(q), respondent means any male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person.
  • 'Shared household' - section 2(s) defines shared household as the place where the aggrieved person lives or at stage has lived in a domestic relationship.

Who can file a report of domestic violence?

  • The victim of domestic violence herself can obviously make the compliment.
  • Anyone who happens to believe that someone has been or is being subject to domestic violence can approach a protection officer.

Against whom can a complaint be lodged?

  • Any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the victim
  • Any relatives of the husband or the male partner.
  • Any male or female relatives of the male partner.

Functionaries appointed under the Act.

  • Protection officer- Protection officer are appointed by the state in each district. These officers are under the jurisdiction of the court and have been assigned specific duties of providing legal and medical aid, safe shelter and to assist the court.
  • Service providers- any registerd voluntary association providing legal, medical financial or other services.
  • Magistrate - a court of First Class Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate have the jurisdiction where a victim can initiate a proceeding against the respondent.

What to do when faced with an incidence of domestic violence?

  • A victim of domestic violence can register DIR (Domestic Incident Report) by approaching the 'protection officer' or the 'service provider'.
  • one can move to domestic violence shelter constituted under this special act.
  • A victim can also approach the police or a magistrate directly.
  • Call 1091 (women emergency number) or 100 and report the abuse.

What provisions for relief does the act provide?

A magistrate or a judge can issue different kinds of order -

  • protection order - an order to keep the abuser away from the aggrieved person
  • Residency orders - restraining the abuser or his relatives from entering the place where the aggrieved person lives. Restraining the respondent from alienating or encumbering the house where the victim lives
  • Monetary relief- the magistrate may direct the aggressor to pay monetary relief to meet expenses of the aggrieved person.
  • compensation order- the court or magistrate may direct the respondent to pay compensation to the aggrieved person for injuries including mental torture and emotional distress.

Though the Act does have a few defects, and the implementation leaves a lot to be desired; the policy by itself seems to be quite practical. Yes, it important to understand that men too face violence. Yes, it is important to implement the Act better and keep the Government accountable for why they have not instituted better reformation measures with regard to the same. However, it is also crucial to recognize that during the time of the Act (and even now), it was extremely vital to initiate a law that provided ease of access to justice to women. This is because of the dowry deaths on a high and domestic and sexual violence against women being rampant. The Act aimed at providing a simplified procedure to women who face domestic violence access to civil and quasi-criminal remedies, and it has succeeded in doing so, to a large extent.

Read about Laws Prohibiting dowry  and Rights Every Woman In India Should Be Aware Of