Millennium Post

Tougher laws for domestic abuse

While India is busy arguing and forming a range of laws about issues ranging from sexual harassment at the workplace to ragging in educational institutions, its women are being subjected to all sorts of violence inside their home. In Delhi alone, since 2007, close to 15,000 cases have been registered as cases of domestic violence of which about 2,000 have been withdrawn after mediation. But the rest have been largely unanswered. In other words, the courts have failed to settle even one case. So the Domestic Violence Act, a central law, has been of no use to the hundreds of women who have been at the receiving end of this ghastly male practice, of bringing their ‘wife to size’ at the drop of a hat with actual cases of physical or corporeal violence inside their home. Is India becoming a country which is blasé about news and practice of domestic violence? Is India becoming a country which blithely practices domestic violence, its male practitioners knowing only too well that this act will bring them no real punishment? At worst, they will have to buy out some agreements out of court after meditation. But as the unresolved cases prove, most cases remain unresolved and unrequited even after a law that was supposed to go after the accused. Incidentally, this information came to light after RTI activist Debshish Bhattacharya obtained it through an RTI. As per the activist, the Domestic Violence Act stipulates that the magistrate shall try to dispose of every application within 60 days. And yet in five years not a single case of conviction has come to light.

This perhaps also proves that cases of domestic violence are easy to evade. In most Indian homes, where men rule or patriarchy is practiced as a bonafide ritual, women are too scared to go all the way towards punishing their husbands. Often, other members of the in-laws have direct and indirect involvement with such an act, thereby rendering the women alone and helpless in their pursuit of justice. In many cases, women do not get help even from her own parents who advice surrender to acts of violence practice rather than legal recourse which could eventually ‘break’ the family. There is also genuine lack of awareness, among both the offenders and the victims, awareness that says why it is a practice that civilised societies cannot and should not tolerate. But also one may wonder if the court is lacking or is too preoccupied with other cases  to make space for cases of domestic violence. Is there something that the judiciary could do to ensure that offender are brought to book and punished after a proper legal case? If yes, then no time should be wasted to act upon them. The government, judiciary and non-government organisations as well as the media must ensure that victims of domestic violence get redressal and justice which is fair and fast.
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