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SC on Crimes and Violence Against Women

  • 16 Oct 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court has said that crimes against women continued in a “never-ending cycle” in India.

Key Points

  • Judgement:
    • The judgement dealt with the statutory scheme of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. It has allowed women fighting domestic violence cases the right to reside in the ‘shared household’ even if her husband had no legal right to the house and the same was owned by the father-in-law or mother-in-law.
    • Making the Act Comprehensive: The court observed that the relief granting right to residence to a married woman under the domestic violence law by a criminal court is relevant and could be considered even in civil proceedings seeking her eviction from the matrimonial home (the residence in which a husband and wife have lived together).
      • The wife would have the right to claim the “shared household” of the joint family under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
        • Section 2(s) of the domestic violence act defines “shared property”, as the property owned by a woman’s husband, or by the joint family of which the husband is a member.
    • Reversed Earlier Judgement: The court reversed the law held by a previous decision of the Supreme Court in December 2006 in SR Batra v Taruna Batra where on similar facts, it refused permission to the wife to continue staying in her husband’s house as it was owned by her mother-in-law. This part of the ruling was held wrong in law as it did not give full meaning to the 2005 act.
    • Least Reported Form of Cruel Behaviour: The court noted that the domestic violence in India is rampant yet underreported. Women in India faced violence and discrimination in one form or the other in their various roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother, partner or single woman.
      • The National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) (NFHS-4) suggests that 30% women in India in the age group of 15-49 have experienced physical violence.
      • As per the UN Women, globally in 2019-20, 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) across the world have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner.
        • Less than 40% of women who experience violence seeking help of any sort or reporting the crime.
        • Less than 10% of those women seeking help go to the police.
    • Reasons: Women continue to be vulnerable to these crimes because of:
      • Non-Retaliation,
      • Absence of laws addressing their rights comprehensively.
      • Ignorance of the existing statutes.
      • Societal attitude, stigma and conditioning also made women vulnerable to domestic violence and these are the main factors for under-reporting of cases.
      • This set of circumstances ensured that a majority of women preferred to suffer in silence, not out of choice but of compulsion.

Acts of Domestic Violence

  • Physical violence, such as slapping, hitting, kicking and beating.
  • Sexual violence, including forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual coercion.
  • Emotional (psychological) abuse, such as insults, belittling, constant humiliation, intimidation, threats of harm, threats to take away children.
  • Controlling behaviors, including isolating a person from family and friends, monitoring their movements and restricting access to financial resources, employment, education or medical care.

Way Forward

  • The increase in violence against women should be dealt with urgently with measures embedded in economic support and stimulus packages that meet the gravity and scale of the challenge and reflect the needs of women who face multiple forms of discrimination.
  • Grassroots and women’s organizations and communities need to be supported strongly in their current frontline role.
  • Helplines, psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted, using technology-based solutions such as SMS, online tools and networks to expand social support, and to reach women with no access to phones or internet.
  • Police and justice services should ensure that incidents of violence against women and girls are given high priority with no impunity for perpetrators.

Source: TH

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