Supreme Court in a recent verdict on safeguarding women victims of domestic violence,  gave a wide interpretation to the term ‘right to reside in a shared household’ under the law.

The court mentioned that it cannot be restricted to only actual matrimonial residence, but can be extended to other homes irrespective of the right over the property.

The apex court very clearly mentioned that “There could be several situations and circumstances and every woman in a domestic relationship can enforce her right to reside in a shared household irrespective of whether she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same”. This can be enforced even in the absence of a “Domestic Incident Report” of a protection officer under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Factors responsible for Domestic Violence

  • Exploiting women in demand of dowry.
  • Discriminating women and acquiring their self-acquired property through fraud ways
  • Torture by husabnd and in-laws
  • Aggressive Attitude of some men who believe that each and every problem inside and outside the home can be solved using physical force and it is a proof to their so called masculinity
  • Poverty and hunger also makes people aggressive and violent at times. This is often witnessed in rural households
  • Dominating tendency in one partner often leads to violence over the other. This often germinates from low self esteem, extreme jealousy, temper problems, strong emotions and especially when they feel inferior to the other in terms of education status and socio-economic background.
  • Drug Addiction of Alcohol and other psychotropic substances often leads to violent behaviour and impulse
  • Extra-marital affairsis also a common cause behind conflicts leading to domestic violence. This often ends up with separation and divorce leaving a serious impact on the development of the child.
  • Stress also often buil;ds up this tendency of being violent over another

Consequences of domestic violence-

  • It only affects the victim but also her family
  • Effect women’s productivity in all spheres of life as they will be always mentally and emotionally disturbed and agonised from the abuse
  • Suicide rates of such victimised women increase which is a very deadly consequence
  • Working women lose their efficiency and drop out
  • It affects the life of the child and his/her development in the tender age, who becomes a witness to the daily abuse and chaos of household

What provisions are available under Constition?

  • Fundamental Rights: Our constitution guarantees all Indians the right to equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State on the basis of gender (Article 15(1)) and special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women (Article 15(3)).
  • Fundamental Duties: It ensures that practices derogatory to the dignity of women are prohibited under Article 51 (A).

Legislations and Government Initiatives to safeguard women

  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Various initiatives by government for ensuring safety of women and girls-

  • Nirbhaya Fund for projects for the safety and security of women
  • One-Stop Centre Scheme to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces.
  • National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO)to facsttrack  investigation and tracking of sexual offenders
  • Women Safety Division setup by MHA.

Way Forward

  • More focus should given towards prevention of these crimes rather than punishment and discussion after it has occured
  • Shifting from blame game to being beside the victim at their most vulnerable time.
  • Awareness generation and sensitization camps should be organised at regular intervals. Media can play a vital role in this regard
  • Proper victim counselling needs to be done for their speedy recovery
  • Police should play a vital role. Separate wing should be formed and they should be trained to become more respectful courteous to the victims in distress
  • Childrens need to be taught right from the school level about gender equality and making them understand that women are equal to men and both deserve equal respect. Parents also have a huge role in this regard