Protection of Women from Domestic Violence

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, which came into existence from 26-10-2006, is a remarkable piece of legislation in the history of Independent India. It is considered as an achievement of various human rights activists and women's groups. Domestic Violence is a gender specific violence, directed against women, and it occurs within interpersonal relationships. The Act provides more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, to victims of violence of any kind, occurring within the family. It treats domestic violence as a human rights issue. It aims to protect women from domestic violence and to prevent its occurrence in the society. The phenomenon of Domestic Violence is widely prevalent in the society but has remained largely invisible. The Act provides the appointment of 'protection officers' and 'service providers' in addition to the usual machinery of police and courts to enforce the various provisions of the Act. Section 3 of the Act defines Domestic Violence. Accordingly, any act, omission, commission or conduct of the person which harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether manual or physical, of the aggrieved person, including causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse shall constitute Domestic Violence. Further an act or omission which harasses, harms, injures, or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property constitutes domestic violence. an act or omission, which has the effect of threatening the aggrieved woman, or any person related to her, constitutes domestic violence. The Act provides for registration of voluntary organizations as 'Service Providers" for the purpose of this Act. An aggrieved person may file an application to the jurisdictional Magistrate seeking various reliefs under the Act. The magistrate shall endeavor to dispose every application within a period of 60 days from the date of hearing. An aggrieved woman has various reliefs and rights under the Act. Section 17 provides the right to reside in a shared household, whether or not, she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same. The Magistrate can pass various protection orders in favour of the aggrieved person prohibiting the respondent from committing acts of domestic violence, prohibiting entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person, prohibiting communication with the aggrieved person, prohibiting alienating assets, operating bank lockers used or held or enjoyed by both the parties etc. Other reliefs under this act include residence orders, monetary reliefs, custody orders, compensation orders, orders pertaining to the custody of children etc.

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