Monday, December 10, 2012

What laws govern domestic violence in India?

For the last day, Prajnya organized a symposium, Outlawing Gender Violence, for legal professionals and students. Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Violence and Domestic Violence were some of the key issues that were discussed.

What Laws govern Domestic Violence in International Law?
The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, or the CEDAW, deals with Domestic Violence. Article 2 speaks of comprehensive state obligation to eliminate discrimination against women, while Article 5 speaks of the elimination of prejudices and practices, based on the stereotyped roles of women and men, and Article 16 elaborates on the elimination of discrimination against women in marriage and family relations: equality of women and men, same rights and responsibilities.

What Laws govern Domestic Violence in India?
In India, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, primarily governs Domestic Violence. In addition, and Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which speaks of cruelty, is also relied on.
What does the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 say?   
The Act covers 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. It also includes relationships with family members living together as a joint family. Women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, living with the abuser are entitled to legal protection under the Act. It affirms a woman’s right to secure housing, and asserts the woman’s right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household. The Court is empowered to pass protection orders that prevent the abuser from aiding or committing an act of domestic violence. Domestic Violence is punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to one year with a fine, or both.
What does Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 say?   
Section 498-A deals with four kinds of cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman: conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide, conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman, harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property. The punishment is imprisonment for a term up to three years and a fine.

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