Over the last two decades, domestic violence has emerged as one of the most serious problem faced by women in Kerala. They are experiencing physical and psychological violence not only from their in-laws but also often from their intimate partner.
This scenario, underlines the need for the effective implementation of Domestic Violence Act 2005, which came into force in October 2006. The definition of DV has been made wide enough to encompass every possibility of abuse/harm to the woman. It has been welcomed by all since it provides for the first time civil remedies to women by way of protection orders, residence orders and orders for monetary relief in the event of a domestic violence incident.
The Act is basically meant to provide protection to the wife or female live in partner from violence at the hands of the husband of male live-in-partner or his relatives. Domestic violence under the Act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse, whether physical sexual, verbal emotional or economic. Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the women victim, or her relatives would also be covered under the definition of domestic violence.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE ACT
- Definition of Domestic Violence - it includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse that can harm, cause injury to, endanger the life, limb, health, safety, or wellbeing, either mental or physical of the aggrieved person.
- Definition of aggrieved person – covers not just the wife but a woman who is the sexual partner of the male irrespective of whether she is his wife or not.
- Any woman residing in the house, mother, widowed relative, daughter who is related in some way to the respondent is also covered by the Act.
- Information regarding an act of domestic violence can be lodged by any person who has reason to believe that such an act has been or is being committed and not necessarily by the aggrieved person.
- Magistrate has the powers to permit the aggrieved woman to stay in her place of bode and cannot be evicted by the husband even if she has no legal claim or share in the property.
- Allows magistrates to impose monetary relief and monthly payments of maintenance.
- Penalty of breach of protection order or an interim protection order is punishable with imprisonment of a period which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend upto Rs.20,000 or both.
- Act ensures speedy justice as the court has to start proceedings and have the first hearing within 3 days of the complaint being filed
- Every case has to be disposed of within a period of 60 days of the first hearing.
For its effective implementation the necessary mechanisms have to be put in place and the modalities of redressal firmed up. A campaign on Domestic Violence Act (2005) has already been initiated by the Social Justice Department, women’s organisations, Kudumbashree, LSGIs and NGOs in Kerala and some domestic incident reports have already been filed.
Role and function of the Central/State Government under the Act has been specified in section 11 of the Act. They are as follows.
- To give wide publicity through public media including TV, radio & print media at regular basis.
- Periodic sensitization & awareness training on the issues addressed by the Act to the officer including the police officers & members of judicial service.
- Effective co-ordination between concerned Minister & Departments.
- Publication of protocol for various agencies concerned with the delivery of services.
Complaint can be made against any adult male person or his relation (also women) who have been in a domestic relationship with aggrieved women for example husband or male partner or mother-in-law.
Whom to Complain?
- Protection officer
- Police Officer
- Service Provider
- Judicial Magistrate of Fist Class or Metropolitan Magistrate
How to Complain?
- Over telephone to the Protection Officer/Service Provider
- Written Complaint to Protection Officer, Police Officer, Service Provider, Magistrate
How can you complain?
- When the incident of domestic violence has happened
- When the incident of domestic violence is happening
- When there is a probability that it will happen
Anyone who has the knowledge of the violence happening can give complaint/ information.
Only a woman can file a complaint of Domestic Violence under the Act.
Name and Address of Women Protection Officers Appointed as per the Act to Protect Women from Domestic Violence