It is a commonly held misconception that only physical abuse can be termed as domestic violence, and that married women alone can lodge a complaint against their respective husbands under the DV Act.

As per the Act, the definition of domestic violence includes even threats of violence, sexual abuse, verbal or emotional abuse such as insults, ridicule, name calling and humiliation about not having a child or a male child.

Even deprivation from economic or financial resources to which the victim is entitled to, such as maintenance of household and children, or her own property or ‘streedhan’, comes under the definition of domestic violence. Even disposal of assets in the victim’s name can be construed as economic violence under the Act.

The complaint may be lodged against any adult male member who is in a domestic relationship with the woman, or relatives of the husband or the male partner. In effect, a mother can lodge a complaint against her own son if he ill-treats her or a widow against her husband’s relatives. A woman in live-in relationship too is entitled to the state protection against an abusive partner.

V.S.K.

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