Law And Her: Let us be the women who know our legal rights
“Domestic violence, it does not happen in well to do families, right?” I am generally asked by people outside my professional field. Let me burst the bubble, it happens in shared households in similar manner, whether it is an under-privileged/uneducated category of people or a privileged/educated category of people. There exists no class/caste/creed barrier here. It is prevalent in shared households whether it has highly qualified people or whether it has illiterate daily wage earning people. And therefore we have recourse to it in our laws, prominently the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA).
Being a female legal practitioner, I strongly assert that every woman should be aware of her legal rights and remedies as well. If a woman gets beaten up at home for forgetting to add salt to the curry she cooked, she should not perceive that beating as her deserved punishment. It is to be understood by her that it is the beginning of a greater issue which will ultimately culminate to extreme domestic violence. It is wrong on her part to stay mute and then whimper that “she has a woman’s life and it will end in this way only!”
We women have recourse in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) and we need to know we can get help in such situations. This particular Act provides for “aggrieved person” means any woman who is, or has been, in domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent. The law therein provides remedies for violence which includes physical, emotional, sexual and economic abuse. The Court aids in granting orders, as per the case, it can be protection orders, monetary orders, compensation orders, custody orders, etc as per merit of the case. I think we need to place more faith in the judicial system, because justice is always served to the deserving individual.
Being a female legal practitioner, I strongly assert that every woman should be aware of her legal rights and remedies as well – Salome
I can see progress; women are seeking remedies under this Act. And there is nothing immoral they do by doing so. It is very painless to remark and insult victims of domestic violence but the pain they endure is excruciating. These women are beaten mercilessly, some have multiple fractures, some have swollen eyes, dislocated jaws and some a mere body without a soul! I despise this thought processes our societies have about domestic violence victims such as “she is a woman and a wife, she deserves a slap or a kick in her stomach even if she is seven months pregnant, whenever she does not please her husband”, or “she is a daughter not a son, the slaps her father gave her are a well deserved reminder that she should not act freely like the son”, and other endless excuses.
I have come across women who falter at first when it comes to legal proceedings but ultimately become conscious that they have come out strong – out of the domestic violence tempest. A recent example of inspiration I came across is Rachel. Rachel (name changed for privacy reason), had been having a shared household with Naveen (name changed for privacy reason) for years now. They had no proper marriage ceremony though. They also have a child who is ten years old now. All these years of living together, Rachel managed to survive somehow to the constant beatings, kicks, sexual abuse inflicted upon her by Naveen. She quietly submitted to all the torture, until one day when things got worse, she was suddenly deserted by Naveen who also took away the child’s custody from Rachel. All these years, Rachel took no action for her own self, but finally she made up her mind and took legal action against Naveen with the help of the protection officer under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA). Rachel filed a DIR (Domestic Incident Report) with the Protection Officer of her area and proceeded with her case. The victories in such situations take time but it is always better to help oneself first and not simply mourn by doing nothing. I applaud such women, for standing up for themselves, and proving to the society that domestic violence is wrong and a woman does not deserve it, no human deserves it!
I have come across women who falter at first when it comes to legal proceedings but ultimately become conscious that they have come out strong
It is not a woman’s fate to be a victim of domestic violence, if one happens to be a victim, then one can always seek justice. If someone around you is being subjected to such violence, guide them that the law protects them and never keep silent until things worsen. The law provides a helping hand, I emphasize take that hand and look beyond those violent memories, create a better and safe future for yourself.