Domestic violence (also named domestic abuse or family violence) is violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. It may be termed intimate partner violence when committed by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner, and can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. Domestic violence can also involve violence against children, parents, or the elderly, and may be done for self-defense. It takes a number of forums including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious,reproductive, and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse such as choking, beating, female genital mutilation, and acid throwing that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include stoning,bride burning, honor killings, and dowry deaths.
Globally, the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women, and women tend to experience more severe forms of violence.In some countries, domestic violence is often seen as justified, particularly in cases of actual or suspected infidelity on the part of the woman, and is legally permitted. Research has established that there exists a direct and significant correlation between a country's level of gender equality and rates of domestic violence.Domestic violence is among the most under reported crimes worldwide for both men and women.Due to social stigmas regarding male victimization,men face an increased likelihood of being overlooked by healthcare providers.

The Second World Conference on Human Rights and the Fourth World Conference on Women recognized that gender-based violence jeopardizes women’s lives, bodies, psychological integrity and freedom. Using the term ‘gender-based’ highlights the fact that violence against women is an expression of power and control inequalities between women and men.

Abusive Behaviour is the Abuser’s Choice

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over their behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you. Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power, including:

1.Dominance

– Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as their possession.

2.Humiliation

– An abuser will do everything they can to make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you're worthless and that no one else will want you, you're less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.

3.Isolation

– In order to increase your dependence on them, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. They may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.

4.Threats

– Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. They may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.

5.Intimidation

– Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don't obey, there will be violent consequences.

6.Denial and blame

– Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, or even on you and the kids, the victims of their abuse. Your abusive partner may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. They will commonly shift the responsibility on to you: Somehow, their violent and abusive behavior is your fault.

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern or cycle of violence.They are as follows

1.Abuse

– Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you "who is boss."

2.Guilt

– After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what they’ve done. They’re more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for their abusive behavior.

3.Excuses

– Your abuser rationalizes what they have done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.

4.Normal behavior

– The abuser does everything they can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. They may act as if nothing has happened, or they may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

5.Fantasy and planning

– Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. They spend a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how they'll make you pay. Then they make a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

6.Set-up

– Your abuser sets you up and puts their plan in motion, creating a situation where they can justify abusing you.
Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. They may make you believe that you are the only person who can help them, that things will be different this time, and that they truly love you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.

7.Guilt

– After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what they’ve done. They’re more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for their abusive behavior.

8.Excuses

– Your abuser rationalizes what they have done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.

9.Normal" behavior

– The abuser does everything they can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. They may act as if nothing has happened, or they may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

10.Fantasy and planning

– Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. They spend a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how they'll make you pay. Then they make a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

11.Set-up

– Your abuser sets you up and puts their plan in motion, creating a situation where they can justify abusing you.

Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. They may make you believe that you are the only person who can help them, that things will be different this time, and that they truly love you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.

Another significant point is Economic Violence

Under the Act, Economic Violence is providing money, food, clothes, medicines, causing hindrance to employment opportunities, forcing a woman to vacate her house, Not paying rent. The Act thus deals with forms of abuse that were either not addressed earlier, or that were addressed in ways not as broad as done here. For instance, it includes in its ambit sexual abuse like marital rape which, though excluded under the IPC, can now be legally recognized as a form of abuse under the definition of sexual abuse in this Act. The definition also encompasses claims for compensation arising out of domestic violence and includes maintenance similar to that provided for under S.125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Nevertheless, the claim for compensation is not limited to maintenance as allowed by that provision. It is noteworthy that the maintenance available under this section must be in correspondence with the lifestyle of the aggrieved party. Lastly, the Act identifies emotional abuse as a form of domestic violence, including insults on account of the victim’s not having any children or male children.

Constitutional Perspective

The enactment in question was passed by the Parliament with recourse to Article 253 of the Constitution. This provision confers on the Parliament the power to make laws in pursuance of international treaties, conventions, etc. The Domestic Violence Act was passed in furtherance of the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the CEDAW. The Act encompasses all the provisions of the Specific Recommendations which form a part of General Recommendation no.19, 1992.

Protection of Women and Fundamental Rights

The Statement of Objects and Reasons declares that the Act was being passed keeping in view the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 and 21. Article 21 confers the right to life and liberty in negative terms, stating that it may not be taken away except by procedure established by law, which is required, as a result of judicial decisions, to be fair, just and reasonable. The right to life has been held to include the following rights (which are reflected in the Act), among others-

The right to dignity

In Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation v. Nawab Khan Gulab Khan, the Supreme Court emphasized the fact that the right to life included in its ambit the right to live with human dignity, basing its opinion on a host of cases that had been decided in favour of this proposition. The right to dignity would include the right against being subjected to humiliating sexual acts. It would also include the right against being insulted. These two facets of the right to life find mention under the definitions of sexual abuse and emotional abuse, respectively. A praiseworthy aspect of the legislation is the very conception of emotional abuse as a form of domestic violence. The recognition of sexual abuse of the wife by the husband as a form of violation to the person is creditable, especially as such sexual abuse is not recognized by the IPC as an offence. These acts would fall within the confines of domestic violence as envisaged by the Act, though the definition would not be limited to it.

The right to shelter

In Chameli Singh v. State of U.P. , it was held that the right to life would include the right to shelter, distinguishing the matter at hand from Gauri Shankar v. Union of India where the question had related to eviction of a tenant under a statute. Ss. 6 and 17 of the Domestic Violence Act reinforce this right. Under S.6, it is a duty of the Protection Officer to provide the aggrieved party accommodation where the party has no place of accommodation, on request by such party or otherwise. Under S.17, the party’s right to continue staying in the shared household is protected. These provisions thereby enable women to use the various protections given to them without any fear of being left homeless.

Article 14 contains the equal protection clause. It affirms equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws. Article 14 prohibits class legislation , but permits classification for legislative purposes. A law does not become unconstitutional simply because it applies to one set of persons and not another. Where a law effects a classification and is challenged as being violative of this Article, the law may be declared valid if it satisfies the following two conditions:

1.The classification must be based on some intelligible differentia,

2. There must be a rational nexus between this differentia and the object sought to be achieved by the law. As a result of the ruling in cases such as Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu, any law that is arbitrary is considered violative of Article 14 as well. This provision is significant in putting a stop to arbitrariness in the exercise of State power and also in ensuring that no citizen is subjected to any discrimination. At the same time, it preserves the State’s power to legislate for a specific category of people.
Article 15 disallows discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, sex, race, etc., but permits the State to make special provisions for certain classes of persons, including women and children.
The Domestic Violence Act promotes the rights of women guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15.
Domestic violence is one among several factors that hinder women in their progress, and this Act seeks to protect them from this evil. It indeed effects a classification between women and men, protecting only women from domestic violence, but this classification is founded on an intelligible differential, namely, gender, and also has a rational nexus with the object of the Act. Further, the Act is far from arbitrary, in that it is a well-thought and necessary attempt to curtail domestic violence and eventually vanquish it. It is to be remembered that it is generally women who are the victims of domestic violence, and not men. At this stage, it is also essential to keep in mind Article 15(3) which empowers the State to make legislations like this for the benefit of women, thus creating an exception in their favour against the operation of Article 15(1).

While saying that the Act is protected by Article 15(3) from being considered discriminatory, it would help to recollect that this provision creates an exception in favour of women and children, and thus could be made use of to justify the extension of the Act to male children as well. Indeed, it would seem logical to do so. It is, however, opined that it is too early to predict the usefulness of this legislations to its target beneficiaries and the society as a whole. It needs to be seen whether the practicality of the Act has been ensured by the legislature and also the responsibility of implementation lies in the hands of the executive which will be the actual scale for measuring the effectiveness of this Act. Whether or not the act will be mis-used or not only time will tell for there cannot be any perceptible change in women's status overnight. It will take at least a decade before things change.

This bill will provide them a safeguard and a sort of sword in their hand so that they will not be seen as an animal, or a shoe that you can wear anytime and throw anytime but at least some women would benefit which would set a precedent for others.

It would be violative of the equality clause as also it would be discrimination on the basis of caste. Frowning upon this observation the Supreme Court stated, “In our opinion, the learned judge failed to appreciate that part III of the Constitution does not touch upon the personal laws of the parties. In applying the personal laws of the parties, he (the High Court judge) could not introduce his own concepts of modern times but should have enforced the law as derived from recognized and authoritative sources of Hindu laws, i.e. Smritis and commentaries referred to, as interpreted in the judgments of various High Courts, except where such law is altered by any usage or custom or abrogated by statute." Reynold Rajamani v. Union of India (1982 2 SCC 474).The excerpts of this judgment on which reliance was placed upon by the Supreme Court in the AWAG case pertain to prayers by the parties to increase the grounds available for divorce under the Indian Divorce Act. It was also argued in that Petition that divorce by mutual consent should be available even under the Indian Divorce Act. It was in this context that the Supreme Court observed that adding provisions to a Statute was a legislative act. The case did not deal with challenge to personal laws as being discriminatory to women.

1.In Pannalal Pitti v. State of A.P. (1996 2 SCC 498). This case dealt with validity of provisions of A.P. Charitable Hindu Religious and Endowments Act, 1987 and the argument was that laws should be made which are uniformly applicable to all religious or charitable endowments run by persons professing all religions. It was in this context that the Supreme Court observed that in a pluralistic society like ours making uniform laws cutting across religions could only be achieved in a phased manner and it was inappropriate to think "all laws have to be made uniformly applicable to all people in one go."

2.In Anil Kumar Mhasi v. Union of India (1994 5 SCC 704). In this case, additional grounds given to a woman for claiming divorce under the Indian Divorce Act were challenged as being discriminatory towards men. The challenge was rebuffed by holding that women did require special protection. What is significant about this judgment is that the Supreme Court did test the validity of some sections of the Indian Divorce Act (a personal law for Christians) on the touch stone of fundamental rights but on merits found the challenge to be unsustainable. The approach of the Supreme Court is clearly wrong and flies in the face of the Constitution. The Contrary View, on the other hand, in the following decisions the Supreme Court has tested aspects of personal laws on the touchstone of fundamental rights.

Failure of the Act

The Act could play a stellar role in protection of women’s rights in the household and in guarding them from domestic violence. In the very first instance, a recognition of domestic violence as something unacceptable, where it has become yet another social practice, is necessary and indeed, commendable in a patriarchal society. Having recognized the rights of women and the violation of these rights, the next step taken is providing innovative and efficacious remedies to enforce the same. The conceptualization of the Act thus far is admirable.

However, one thing that the writers feel is a miss in the Act is the fact that it brushes aside male children. Though there are interpretations to the contrary, it is the opinion of the writers that the Act does not extend its protection to male children. Firstly, an aggrieved person as defined by the Act is a woman who is, or has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent. While the Act does define a child as any person below the age of eighteen years, the definition of domestic violence itself refers at all stages only to an aggrieved person and not to a child; the only relevant place in which a child is mentioned is S.18(c), where it is stated that a Magistrate may pass a protection order restraining the respondent from entering the school of the child where the aggrieved person is a child. It is the opinion of the writers that this in itself is not sufficient to construe the Act as applicable to male children as well.

Arguably, it could be said that the Act was passed to cater to the needs of women and not boys. After all, the very title of the Act indicates that it has been enacted to protect the rights of women. Yet, it must be kept in mind that domestic violence, though predominantly faced by women, be they wives, mothers, sisters or daughters, is also aimed against male children at times. It seems a poor excuse to say that male children should not be provided easily accessible relief from domestic violence simply because of their gender. Even if other forms of violence could be adequately addressed by the IPC (though this hardly seems the case), it is a fact that the sexual abuse of male children cannot be redressed in any apposite manner by it. Reference may be had to the Sakshi case , and the subsequent 172nd Law Commission report, where it was argued, among other things, that the offence of rape as addressed in the IPC be defined in gender-neutral terms, so that the protection could be extended to male children as well. This was necessary keeping in mind the increased and increasing instances of sexual abuse of children, male and female. Once it is acceded that male children are affected as much by sexual abuse by female children, it must be accepted that they need to be protected from such abuse within the “private” sphere too. On the face of it, there seems to be no concrete reason for denying male children protection from domestic violence.
“Honor-killings", which are widespread in some of the economically advanced States, is an example. Perpetrated under the garb of saving the "honor" of the community, caste or family, such incidents occur often as the State governments are not keen to take action. The acts of violence include public lynching of couples, murder of either the man or the woman concerned, murder made to appear as suicide, public beatings, humiliation, blackening of the face, forcing couples or their families to eat excreta or drink urine, forced incarceration, social boycotts and the levying of fines.

The largest number of cases was found to have occurred in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh - most of the incidents reported at the convention took place in these three States. One reason for the increased visibility of such crimes is the trend of more and more girls joining educational institutions, meeting others from different backgrounds and castes and establishing relationships beyond the confines of caste and community. Such individuals, both boys and girls, are being targeted so that none dares to breach the barriers of castes and communities. Significantly, in the majority of cases it is the economically and socially dominant castes that organize, instigate and abet such acts of retribution.

In Muzaffarnagar district in western Uttar Pradesh, at least 13 honor killings occurred within nine months in 2003. In 2002, while 10 such killings were reported, 35 couples were declared missing. It was estimates that Haryana and Punjab alone account for 10 per cent of all honor killings in the country. It is not surprising that no such category of crime exists in government records. In fact, there is refusal even to recognize this phenomenon. Data for such incidents are seldom available and they would mostly be classified under the category of general crimes. Moreover, most of such cases go unreported and, even when reported, often first information reports are not filed and postmortems are not conducted.

Caste panchayats have come to play an increasingly important role in Haryana and elsewhere, especially in situations where political patronage also exists. Central to the theme of honor and violence is the subordinate position of girls and women in all castes and communities. A woman's chastity is the "honor" of the community and she has no sovereign right over her body at any point of her life. The retribution is particularly swift and brutal if she crosses caste and class barriers to choose a lower-caste man as her partner.