Domestic Abuse: A Stain on the Society

“When it comes to abuse, you believe there’s no way around. There is always help. There is always a way out”.

-Rev. Donna Mulvey

The crime against household women is a mishap stretching back to a time immemorial resulting which women have always been subjugated, tortured, and abused by the one with power and authority over them in the house. The issue has been prevalent but has remained largely concealed in the public domain due to lesser reporting of cases by those who are subjected to domestic violence and who did not seek help from anyone. In India, domestic violence and related legislations have historically been directed towards the cases related to dowry violence. It is clear that tending to abusive behavior at home has become a dire issue, not just for the government, as it is a public well-being crisis, but also a criminal misbehavior for a society in which we live.

According to the data from ”Crimes in India (2018)” report, Chapter 3A collated by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) –

“In India a total number of 89,097 cases associated to crimes against women were registered in 2018.From the said cases as registered under the Indian Penal Code by women, the common cases were pertaining to ”cruelty by husband or his relatives” which was around 31.9 percent of the total number of cases. Additionally, the cases related to assault against women with an intention to outrage her modesty stood at 27.6 percent. Other cases related to ”kidnapping or abduction of women” stood at 22.5 percent and cases related to rape comprised 10.3 percent of the overall crime in the reports”. 

Although the practice of dowry in itself is banned under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, it is still prevalent.The Actual percentage is not known, but surprisingly about half of the weddings in every Indian family involves dowry. Although, if any dowry settlement has been given to and taken by anybody other than the lady, she is entitled to the cash/property as the case might be under the given act.For the said relief one has to prove the infliction of violence and cruelty on the part of the family or the husband’s side.

Furthermore The Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act 2005 focuses on the reliefs and compensation given to the aggrieved woman such as protection from the in laws, right to reside in the “shared household” etc., unlike in criminal law, where the prime focus is about punishing the accused. It also provides for the legal definition of “Domestic Violence” under Section 3 according to which domestic violence may include four categories of abuses which are Economic, Physical, Verbal, and sexual. It is relevant to take note that the law administering this subject before the above law was Section 498A of IPC, which punishes the culprits and is pertinent only to married ladies. For the said reason The Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act 2005 came into the picture in order to provide remedy and compensation under civil law.Under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, harassment and cruelty against a woman by the husband or his family is considered to be a crime and the person who subjects such women to Cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment of 3 years and shall also be liable to pay fine for the same. 

Here the term- ‘Cruelty’ means any willful conduct which drives a woman to commit suicide or to cause any injury of such type which is grave to life, limb, and health. Also, harassment of such women with an intention to coerce her and her relative in order to meet up the dowry demands is said to come under ‘Cruelty’.

Both the causes and results of aggressive behavior at home should be deliberately scrutinized. Individuals need to report such cases and the administration should be tough while handling such cases. On the off chance, even if anyone of these factors can be controlled, at that point one type of abuse can be prevented from harming a woman. So as to keep up the wellbeing and security of the nation, we have to control the abusive behavior at home. While the law can give the ropes to casualties to clutch, it is just through a change in culture as well as physical mentalities that casualties can be engaged to reach out to the authorities concerned so that a specific action can be taken upon the person who do so. 

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