The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 giving protection to women from domestic violence is a step in right direction. By including the unmarried sisters, mothers, widows, etc. in the list of women facing domestic violence the Act has ensured full proof protection to the harassed women. But the main problem has always been the reticence of women not voicing their protests and complaining and not the law. The mindset of the women has to change.
While the intention of the Domestic Violence Act is laudable, the Act itself is draconian and very harsh on men. Following are some of the dangerous flaws in the said Act.
Section 32(2) says that “upon the sole testimony of the aggrieved person, the court may conclude that an offence under sub-section (1) of Section 31 has been committed by the accused.”
By treating the victim’s testimony as gospel truth without any need for corroboration it has virtually empowered all women to punish men at their will. This is very dangerous for innocent men. As it is the rape, adultery and dowry laws are already skewed in favour of women. And now this Act would leave the men with absolutely no remedy against the erring women who would lodge false complaint. All she has to do is to go to the court/police, register the case and the husband will be right behind bars in a jiffy.
Chapter IV Section 17 makes the “right of residence” a powerful tool in the women’s hands whether or not she has any title in the household.
By including the divorced wives, former girlfriends and live-in partners in the list of women facing domestic violence this Act has enough leeway for women to misuse the law. Why should a divorced wife who has legally separated in the court of law and who has also received proper alimony, should have any right in the husband’s household? This is an open invitation for conniving women to harass innocent men. And why should live-in partners and girlfriends be included in the list since these are not legally recognised relationships in India. Now, any woman will get into a relationship with men and demand their right in the household? Also, an adulterous woman can abuse her husband or in-laws and threaten them of false domestic violence but she cannot be thrown out of the house as per the Act. She could even bring her paramour/lover to the house and the husband or in-laws can’t do a thing about it.
Chapter II Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act defines domestic violence as actual abuse or threat of abuse—physical, verbal, emotional or economic.
While physical and economical abuse can be proved it is almost impossible to prove verbal and emotional abuse, which could result in women registering false cases as they won’t have to prove anything (they don’t have to prove anything anyway). And why not add spiritual abuse, philosophical abuse, educational abuse, etc. under domestic violence? Section 18 allows the Magistrate to protect the women from acts of violence or even “acts that are likely to take place” in the future and can prohibit the respondent from dispossessing the aggrieved person or in any other manner disturbing her possessions, entering the aggrieved person’s place of work or any other place that the abused women frequents….
This means that the husband and his family (parents, sisters, etc.) must leave their own house as the Act does not allow them to come to a place where the aggrieved women stays or frequents. But she gets to stay in their house (and may be with her lover). Wow! Moreover, how can the future (imaginary?) acts of violence (acts that are likely to place) can be considered for punishment is beyond comprehension. Why pre-empt such dangerous thing.
Chapter III Section 4 of the Act says that the information regarding an act or acts of domestic violence does not necessarily have to be lodged by the aggrieved party but by “any person who has reason to believe that” such an act has been or is being committed. Which means that neighbours should take initiative on behalf of the victim.
“Why should any person who has reason to believe that such act has been committed” be allowed to register a complaint just on his/her belief? What about authentic proofs and evidence? It also means that even a wife’s paramour/lover can now file a complaint on her behalf. Isn’t this great! It has also been found that in the event of altercation the police generally arrests the husband and the in-laws. This arbitrary decision of the police to favour the daughter-in-law is a newfound ethics, to protect the rights and liberalisation of the women and it violates the principles of natural justice. Law should take its own course to punish the guilty whoever it might be.
The important flaw in the Act is inclusion of live-in partners or any sexual partners [Chapter I Section 2(a)].
This automatically gives legitimacy to live-in relationship. Isn’t this unfair for legally wedded wives? Won’t the promiscuous husbands now take advantages of this bill?
There are many such howlers in the Domestic Violence Act. The Domestic Violence Act, under the garb of protecting harassed women, has now actually become a powerful tool in the hands of women to harass men and strip them off all their rights. The Act will actually worsen the domestic problems leading to breakdown in marriages as women will now be tempted/encouraged to go to courts/police after trivial fights or heavy fights happening in the heat of the moment. The Act discourages women to rectify their mistake. The Act not only gives sweeping powers to females but also takes away all the rights of men. While it imposes a lot of responsibility on men, it gives lot of rights to women who misuses the law?
While domestic laws are enacted to save the poor female, there have been many cases where many cunning unscrupulous women have misused these laws to their advantages. For example, the misuse of Section 498 meant to protect women from cruelty and dowry harassment. There have been cases where women were incited by the family members to take revenge to settle family disputes by registering false cases. Such gags of extortioning money from innocent men and to wreck vengeance will now grossly misuse the Domestic Violence Act that is made to protect women. By making a one-sided Act, wives, live-in partners will now be tempted to use it against their husbands/partners.
Feminists would aver as to why a women would file a case if she is happy in the marriage. But that would be like saying that men are under mercy of women. If wives or live-in partners are not happy for whatever trivial reasons, they can now turn the table on their husband by filing false cases irrespective of whether any violence occurred or not. Gender partisanship is wholly out of place in the cases of domestic violence. Tweaking the way the law is interpreted in such a way so as to diminish responsibility for one sex or the other could have mortal consequences for poor men. Domestic violence is too grave a matter to be an area where the radicals can show off how feminist they are. And at present domestic violence is a feminist issue. For the courts and women organisations, it is a matter of obvious mistruth that women cannot commit domestic crimes or that women cannot register false rape cases.
Why shouldn’t men also have protection against domestic violence? Why can’t the same factors attributed to men for harassing their wives can also be attributed to women? There are numerous cases of male harassment and a study of physical and verbal abuse of men by women will bring out a clear picture. Suicide rate of men in India goes up by almost 50% after marriage due to emotional abuse.
The Komolikas, Pallavis, Kaaveris, Jigyaasas, etc. of India would relish the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the Act gives a lot of scope for corrupt lawyers and bribes for police, NGOs and politicians to make lots of money. The innocent men, women, children, etc. will only get discriminated against.
Let there be strict laws for domestic violence and strict punishment for guilty and abusive men but let there not be biased laws heavily in favour of women that would only end in broken marriage and relationship. The Domestic Violence Act needs immediate and complete overhaul.