Not only charity begin at home but everything begins at home. Do you ever think about what to do when your home is not safe? What can you do when you’re surrounded by cruelty, violence etc. at home? For answers to these and similar questions, let’s go to this section and look into the various provisions of IPC and Domestic Violence Act.
Only a female can be a victim of Domestic Violence. It means
- Any form of abuse causing harm or injury to the physical and/or mental health of a woman or compromising her life and safety.
- Any harassment for dowry or any other unlawful demands for any property.
- Threat to cause injury or harm to those related to the woman.
The respondent can be any adult male who has been in a domestic relationship with the victim, and male and female relatives of the husband/male partner, including Live-in relationships.
Domestic Violence includes-
- Physical Abuse (eg.- Beating, Slapping, Hitting, Biting )
- Sexual Abuse (eg. Forced Intercourse, Forced you to look at pornography or any other obscene pictures or materials, Child Sexual Abuse.)
- Verbal and Emotional Abuse (Accusations on your character or conduct, Insults for not having any male child, Yelling and Screaming)
- Economic Abuse (Not providing money for maintaining you or your children. Stopping from carrying on your employment.)
Who can file a complaint?
Aggrieved Woman; those women who have lived together in a shared household; Women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women or living in any other relationship with the abuser.
Not only can a complaint be made against any adult male member but also against the female relatives of the husband/partner.
An unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force or physical violence or when she is unable to give consent.
The husband can be punished as under:
- When the wife is 12-15 years of age.
Imprisonment up to 2yrs or fine or both.
- When the wife is below 12years.
Imprisonment not less than 7years may extend to life or 10years and fine.
- Judicially separated wife.
Imprisonment up to 2years and fine.
- Wife above 15 years.
Dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage at/before/after the marriage in connection with the marriage. It does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law applies.
- If any person gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry- Imprisonment not less than five years, and fine which not less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more.
- If any person demands directly or indirectly any dowry- Imprisonment from Six months to two years and fine upto ten thousand rupees.
Cruelty includes physical as well as mental cruelty. It includes any behaviour which is likely to:
- To drive the woman to commit suicide or
- To cause grave injury or danger to life, limb, or any mental or physical health of the woman; or
- Harass the wife where such harassment is done with a view to coerce her or her relations to meet any unlawful demands for any property or valuable security or is done in the result of her or any of her relation’s failure in meeting such demand.
Who can file a complaint?
The complaint can either be filed by the aggrieved woman, or any other individual related to such aggrieved woman by blood, adoption, or marriage. In fact, it can be a public servant also who is notified by the State government.
Cruelty by Husband- Imprisonment upto three years with fine
Cruelty, when taken as a ground for divorce under Hindu Marriage Act, is the behaviour of one spouse towards the other which makes the latter feel that it is not safe for him or her to continue to stay in the matrimonial relationship anymore with the other.
A woman has a right to reside in the shared household and a right to alternative accommodation in cases where she does not want to return to a violent home.
In cases where she is thrown out she can be brought back again after obtaining an order from the court.
No orders for removal from a shared household can be obtained against female relatives under the Domestic Violence Act.
A woman can also ask for temporary custody orders for her children. This is to prevent the woman from being separated from her children, which itself is a form of emotional abuse and blackmail. This does not affect rights under existing laws on custody and guardianship.