Survey: Women as victims

Students unite to fight for violence against women. File photo   | Photo Credit: T_Singaravelou

Physical abuse is the most common form of abuse reported by women, and husbands are the largest respondents under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005.

Courts have entertained complaints of emotional and verbal abuse where no physical abuse has been alleged, and relief has been granted in the form of protection order and residence order. However, though protection orders are being passed in favour of the aggrieved person, the reason given is domestic violence and not sexual violence, a survey has shown. It also suggests that man not having sexual relation with his wife, too, has been accepted as a form of sexual abuse as has been making the woman forcibly watch pornography.

According to the Fifth Monitoring and Evaluation report of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, physical violence (3215) along with verbal and emotional abuse (2726) are the most common forms of violence reported by women, followed closely by economic abuse (2938) and dispossession.

A large number of women have complained of sexual abuse (229) by their husbands, fathers and brothers-in-law.

The Act was an innovation over the conventional understanding of domestic violence as it did not limit the protection against violence solely to ‘marital relationships'. It introduced the concept of ‘domestic relationship' which included all relationships based on consanguinity, marriage, adoption and even relations which were in the nature of marriage.

In 2011, 17 cases of women in relationships in the nature of marriage have become public across the country with the highest numbers of cases coming from Delhi where five women have received relief from their male partners. But, the most important aspect of the Act is the ‘right to residence' which protects women from being pushed out of the house.

Judges are readily passing ‘stop violence' and residence orders under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which is a major step forward in empowering aggrieved women, but protection officers are diverting from their primary role of helping women to access justice and constantly persuading them for out of counselling rather than taking recourse to justice.

The report further said that while there was in increase in positive attitudes on gender and domestic violence of protection officers, confusion continued to prevail around the definition of domestic relationship and whether women could be the first respondents or not. Protection officers are a mechanism to coordinate between the victim and the court meant to assist women.

It is alarming that even with increased training initiatives, police continue to ‘counsel' and ‘settle' cases of domestic violence at the police stations without taking appropriate action.

Of a total of 7557 court orders examined from across 16 states, 1401 had been settled in a compromise, said the report prepared by the Lawyers Collective, Women's Rights Initiative, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability in collaboration with the International Centre for Research on Women and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.

The report said courts had also passed protection orders on prima facie evidence of domestic violence and the most common form of relief granted to women who had faced domestic violence was monetary relief and this trend showed an increase.

The report makes a specific mention of two Supreme Court judgements: one on `live in relationships' which recognises such relationships and the second that led to a controversy where women in `live in relationships' were referred to as ‘keep', betraying entrenched patriarchal mindsets and the existence of negative stereotype.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 6:13:36 PM |

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