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Increase in Domestic Violence amid Covid-19 Lockdown-By Ravi Prakash

Introduction-:

The whole world is under a lockdown trying to curb the spread of the hidden enemy “CORONAVIRUS”. But this is proving to be an imprecation to the women in the society. The cases of domestic violence appear to be rising in the country during the lockdown. This scenario is not only with India many other countries are facing a similar situation like China, The United Kingdom, and the United States among others.

Situation in India-:

The cases of Domestic violence have doubled than what it was before the lockdown. The maximum number of cases of domestic violence is being reported from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, and Punjab India's National Commission for Women received 587 complaints of domestic violencebetween March 23 and April 16. This is a significant rise from 396 complaints of domestic violence registered in the previous 25 days between February 27 and March 22 by the commission. According to the National Family Health Survey One-third of women in India's 2015-2016 said they had experienced domestic violence, but less than 1 percent of them sought help from the police. According to the National Commission for Women, the main reason for the rise of domestic violence is that the men are at home and they are taking out their frustration on women and also refusing to participate in any kind of domestic work. Women are also confined within the four walls of the house and they cannot share their pain with anybody. Karnataka State Commission for protection of Child Rights has highlighted that young girls are also very vulnerable during the COVID-19 Lockdown as their families are attempting to marry off many minors.

GLOBAL ISSUE-:

The rise in the cases of domestic violence is not the situation only in India but most countries globally are facing the issue of rising in domestic violence, leading to The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealing to governments to pay attention and also to and prevent a "horrifying global surge in domestic violence" during the lockdown. The rise in cases of domestic violence is not only a concern for India many countries like the United States of America, China, France, Brazil, Germany, and Italy are also facing this issue. The Italian government had launched an app to report domestic violence, whereas the French government is working to provide counseling for both the accused and the victims of domestic violence. The European Union has raised its concern regarding this particular issue. The United Nations agency for sexual and reproductive health has said that there would be around 31 million more cases of domestic violence worldwide if lockdown continues for another six months.

REMOVING ALCOHOL RESTRICTIONS WILL FUEL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

The government of India has ordered to re-open the liquor shops. Thou, alcohol is not the root cause of domestic abuse but yes it has a relation with domestic violence. Many Women’s rights activists warned the government against this step. Even the WHO agrees that alcohol can be a contributing factor to domestic violence. It can increase the frequency and severity of domestic violence and be more likely to result in injury. Many countries like Colombia, Greenland, South Africa, and Mexico have put some restrictions on the sale of alcohol because it will lead to more number of cases of domestic violence.

HIGH COURTs ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING LOCKDOWN.

The Delhi High Court directed the Central Government and the Delhi Government to ensure effective implementation of all the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 as a consequence of the increase in the cases of domestic violence during the lockdown. While dealing with a petition file by All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice the high court made this remark. Sudha Ramalingam v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors (on 15 April, 2014, WP.No.30750/2018) a similar issue has been raised before the Madras High Court.

STATUTORY FRAMEWORK-:

The Parliament of India enacted The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act to protect women from domestic violence. The act came into existence on 26th October 2006. This Act was the first major step against domestic violence in India because for the first time a definition of“ domestic violence” was provided in Indian law. This definition is very broad and not only includes physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, and economic abuse. The primary function of the act is to ensure the protection of women. Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act as defines the term“Domestic violence” as “any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:

1. harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, sexual abuse and economic abuse; or

2. harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or

3. can threaten the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or

4. otherwise causes injury or harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”

The Act also defines the terms like “physical abuse”, “sexual abuse”, “verbal and emotional abuse” and “economic abuse”.

Dowry As A Cause of Domestic Violence

Despite having a law prohibiting dowry (the giving or taking of dowry) in any form, the social evil of dowry is still there in almost all sections of the society irrespective of their class or caste. In the year 1961 The first national legislation related to dowry, THE DOWRY PROHIBITION, ACT was enacted. Section 2 of this particular Act defines the term “Dowry”.

-Section 498A of the IPC, also known as the anti-dowry law, prohibits cruelty by husband or his relatives towards a woman of the kind that might harm her or force her to commit suicide or relates to a demand for money or property. This amendment empowers the concerned authority to arrest and jailing of a woman’s spouse and her in-laws in the case of harassment or cruelty.To control the ill-treatment of women by their husband or in-laws the legislature inserted Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code in the year 1983 but the data revealed an alarming increase in the number of suspicious deaths of women in their matrimonial home,

Thereby prompting the legislature to insert two more provisions, First, Section 304B in the Indian Penal Code andsecond, Section 113B in the Indian Evidence Act, in the year 1986. This was done to curb the rising incidences of Dowry Deaths. The National Crime Record Bureau recorded 4668 dowry deaths in the year 1995. The number of cases rose to 6787 in the year 2005 and further to 7634 in 2015. Thus, going by these stats, India loses 21 lives to dowry every day. This clearly shows that dowry is also one of the main reasons for domestic violence.

Provisions of maintenance leading to domestic violence

● Section 125 of the Criminal Procedural Code provides for the maintenance. This section no-where talks about the religion so, women of any religion can file an application under this section for the maintenance.The Supreme Court of India in Chaturbhuj v. Sitabai (on 27 November, 2007, AIR 2008 SC 530) , concluded a remark that the provision under Section 125 “is a measure of social justice which has been enacted to protect women and children in the society, it aims to prevent destitution and vagrancy by compelling those who can provide support to those who are unable to support themselves.”By the amendment Act 50 of 2001, a second proviso to sub-section (1) of section 125 of CrPC, was included which provides for interim maintenance.The Supreme Court in Badshah Vs. Urmila Badshah Godse & Another (on 27 November, 2007, AIR 2008 SC 530) observed that nature of provisions under section 125 CrPC is social justice legislation.

Section 20 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act also deals with the provisions of maintenance. According to section 20(2) of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,  the monetary relief granted under this section should be “adequate, reasonable and fair and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved woman is accustomed.”For calculation purpose all the provisions given under The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act should be followed.The Delhi High Court in Kanupriya Sharma vs State & Anr (CRL. REV. PET. 849/2018, 28th February, 2019) held that the Maintenance under The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence act doesn’t depend on whether the wife is capable of earning or not.

● In Prakash Babulal Dangi v. State of Maharashtra (on 10 January, 2018 WRIT PETITION NO. 3791 OF 2016 ) , a question arose before the Bombay High Court whether the wife can claim maintenance under section 20 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence and section 125 of CrPC. The court relied upon Section 20(1)(d) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and held that Maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act to be paid in addition to themaintenance awarded under S. 125 Cr PC and not in substitution.

Conclusion

The crimes against women are always an issue to discuss. The 50 percent population is still being deprived of their fundamental rights. The golden triangle of the Indian Constitution: - Article 14 which prescribes the right to equality, Article 19 which gives the right to freedom of speech and expression and the most important one the Article 21 right to life with dignity is there for every citizen of India, but the situation shows that the patriarchal society in India is not going to allow even these basic rights to the women in the country. The state and the concerned authorities should take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the women and the children amid this COVID-19 lockdown as they are very vulnerable to domestic abuse.

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