M A I N   N E W S

Domestic Violence Act comes into effect
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
Husbands be careful, as from tomorrow onwards beating or insulting your wife can land you in jail with a fine up to Rs 20,000.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 comes into effect from October 26, aiming to provide protection to wife or female live-in partner from the husband or male live-in partner and also his relatives.

The Act, passed by Parliament in August 2005, was approved by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on September 13, 2005, following which the Ministry of Women and Child Development issued a notification bringing it into force from tomorrow.

The notification issued by the ministry today to bring the Act into force stated that domestic violence under the Act included actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economical. Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives would also be covered under the notification.

The ministry simultaneously issued another notification laying down rules framed for the implementation of the Act which will provide for, among other things, appointment of protection officers, service providers and counsellors.

However, some non-government agencies, dealing with crimes against women and child are not-so hopeful about successful implementation of the Act. Studies show that in India around 70 per cent of women are victims of violent Acts in one or the other form, making it a massive task for enforcing agencies to successfully implement the Act.

Advocate for Shaktivahini, an NGO, actively involved in women and child welfare activities, Kamal Pandey says history of most of the social legislations, whether related to women or children or bonded labour, shows that implementation of these Acts is usually a long delayed process.

“It is a step in the right direction. But I do not see any perceptible change in women's status overnight. Most of the social legislations are never implemented properly… It will take at least a decade before things change and that too provided the government puts proper machinery in place and the implementation agencies like the police and women are made adequately aware of the Act,” he said.

The government though is very upbeat and positive on the success of the Act. According to Minister of Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhary, the law will go a long way to provide relief to women from domestic violence and get their due. To ensure this, the ministry has also asked all state governments and union territories to ensure that necessary administrative arrangements are immediately put in place for the commencement of the Act

As per the statement, the law will cover all those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage or a relationship in the nature of marriage or adoption.

Besides, relationship with family members living together as a joint family is also included. Sisters, widows, mothers, single women or women living with the abuser are entitled to get legal protection under the proposed Bill.

In addition to physical violence of beating, slapping, hitting, kicking and pushing, the Act also covers sexual violence like forced intercourse, forcing his wife or mate to look at pornography or any other obscene pictures or material and child sexual abuse.

It also includes verbal and emotional violence such as name-calling and insults. Moreover, preventing one's wife from taking up a job or forcing her to leave job are also under the purview of the Act.

An important features of the Act is the women's right to secure housing. The Bill provides for woman's right to reside in the matrimonial and shared household, whether or not she has any title in the household. This right is secured by a residence order, which is passed by a court.

The Act provides for breach of protection order or interim protection order by the respondent as a cognizable and non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 20,000 or with both.

The other relief envisaged is that of the power of the court to pass protection orders that prevent the abuser from aiding or committing an act of domestic violence or any other specified act, entering a workplace or any other place frequented by the abused, attempting to communicate with the abused, isolating any assets used by both the parties.



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