Author: Rishika Arora
IMS Unison University, Dehradun
In this difficult time, where life expectancy has fallen, governments around the world have urged citizens to be at home for their safety.
However, being at home is not the safest place for everyone. Domestic violence has increased over the globe and as a result of the lockdown; many people are trapped at home with abusive partners. So, it is equally important for us to plan and focus the solution to deal with the increased crime.
The world is facing a crisis called COVID-19 because of which the interactions among more than 3.0 billion people have been restricted. While the virus is the biggest threat to all governments in the world, there is a major problem that raises our concerns in the current situation i.e., the trauma of domestic violence in the lockdown.
The national plan to combat COVID-19 explains that homes are safest place to live in. Unfortunately, the victims of domestic violence have to share their homes with their abusers.
United Nations President Antonio Guterres said, "Locks and quarnatine are essential to combat COVID-19 but can catch a victim of violence and abuse."
Victims cannot speak because they are kept alone at home with the developers, but also because the closure prevents them from seeking outside help.
FACTORS LEADING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING LOCKDOWN:
· Lack of social interaction and psychological strain
· Loss of jobs causing financial strain proved to be a major factor
· Women's financial dependency on men
Recent Reports on surge in domestic violence:
The WHO regional office said “Paramedics across Europe had seen a sharp increase in domestic violence calls.”
The WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that "Countries report an increase in the number of emergency calls for women being violently harassed by their close partners in April this year, compared to the last."
"We have an increase in reporting from almost every country," said Isabel Yordi, Minister of Gender and Health Technology at WHO Europe.
The UN's sexual and reproductive health organization (UNFPA) has estimated that there will be an additional 31 million cases of domestic violence if housing closures continue for another six months.
Recent data released by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) suggests that a national ban has led to a rapid increase in cases of domestic violence. Uttrakhand recorded the highest number of domestic violence cases (144 cases) in the last two closed months. Haryana is listed in two categories (79) and in the country's capital Delhi at number three (69 cases).
Rights of Women Guaranteed By Indian Constitution
The Constitution of India not only provides for equality for women but also empowers the State to adopt discriminatory measures in favor of women to undermine the economic, educational, and political unity that they face.
Articles 14, 15, 15 (3), 16, 39 (a), 39 (b), 39 (c), and 42 of the Constitution are very important in this regard. Maneka Gandhi High Court Vs. The Union of India recognized the right to health under Article 21 which includes the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of all people.
On the other hand, according to a recent report NCW received 4 373 complaints registered under the category of 'right to life and dignity'. Section 39 (a) and the Constitution provide free legal aid to the public and ensure justice for all. Despite being one of the few countries with the highest number of laws to protect women, women are still subject to violence.
Indian laws on domestic violence
The Protection of Women in the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is an act of the Indian Parliament to protect women in the fight against domestic violence. It protects the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who may be victims of any kind that occurs in the family and in related matters.
What is Domestic Violence?
Under section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, domestic violence means harm, injury or danger to health, leg, health, safety or well-being, either psychologically or physically for the purpose of forcing a woman or another person to meet any demand for money.
Who is covered under the Law?
This rule applies to all women who may be their mother, sister, wife, widow or partners living in a shared house. The relationship can be in the form of a marriage or an adoption. In addition relationships with family members living together as an integrated family are also included. However, no female relative of a man or a male partner can sue a woman or a female partner, e.g. A mother-in-law cannot file a complaint against her daughter-in-law, but she can file a complaint against her daughter-in-law for abusing her son in order to commit violence against her.
Who can file a complaint?
· Any woman who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the offender or any person may file a complaint on her behalf.
· A child is also entitled to relief under the Domestic Violence Act.
Against whom can a complaint be filed?
· Any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the woman.
· Relatives of the husband as the male partner.
To whom can information be given or complaint be made?
Information may be given and complaint can be made to Police officer/ Protection Officer/ Service provider (an NGO) or Magistrate.
Important Judicial Pronouncements
1. Yard of Shs. Jagdish Kumar: MM New Delhi- Ms S (name changed) Vs Mr A
S who worked with the international organization knew the respondent Mr. A who was the country manager of the foreign organization. He started communicating with the applicant by email. During the interview the applicant revealed that she was suffering from cancer and that she was married to one man outside of her marriage. He invited Ms S to work with him. During work with the applicant, the defendant began to share things about his illness, removed him from his previous job, family etc., and became friends. He asked S to marry him and took the initiative to use sindoor and bindi and said "she is my wife." S was invited to stay with her and they started living together in the same house. S said he had divorced his wife and was in the process of filing for divorce. Household expenses began, and I used to pay for the hall where they lived. Held S lived with A in a house shared in a marital status relationship. S was entitled to money for food, clothing, medicine and other basic necessities and to continue food and other necessities.
2. The case of Shalu Bansals Delhi
The court ordered that respondents must provide alternative accommodation as care for the trustee.
As a result of the current epidemic, the world is facing more difficulties in fighting the virus but also in increasing violence during the closure. Being caught with the abuser has made it difficult for victims at home to seek help.
Government around the world has taken steps to curb violence such as housing subsidies, campaigns such as Mask-19 etc. In India measures have also been taken to reduce the impact of the violence. However, the measures taken by the government will only be successful if they are taken and used properly with some development.
Source: National Commission for Women