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Domestic Violence against Men with respect to the Domestic Violence Act

Vijayant Goel, Nyayshastram

Introduction

Domestic Violence is a violent act of cruelty, usually taking place at home. There is also an involvement of family members in the act. Domestic Violence is a broad term comprising of but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological harassment including child abuse. Initially, women could seek protection under Sections 498A and 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The provisions of 498A and 304B were introduced by the amendment of 1983 and 1986, respectively. On 9th July 1993, India ratified CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), which recognized every type of gender-based violence. The convention aims to enact laws to protect women from every kind of domestic violence and monitor them.


The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA)[1] is Parliamentary legislation that was introduced by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and came into effect on 26th October 2006. The Act protects the survivor of domestic violence against male partners and male and female relatives of the husband. The Act provides civil remedies with the criminal procedure to provide adequate protection and relief to the domestic violence survivor. Under the Act, the survivor can claim compensation and maintenance from the respondent.


The Parliamentary statute provides protection solely to women. In cases of domestic violence, there are instances where the men have also been subjected to cruelty and other heads under the broad term of domestic violence. The traditional gender roles in society have created a stigma that a woman is weak and is the sole victim in the cases of domestic violence.


Unlisted Domestic Violence Against Men.

In India, domestic violence against men is not recognized by law. In an abusive relationship, both spouses may subject the other to mental cruelty. There are cases where men are also abused physically by their wives not directly, but through her relatives like her brothers and father. According to the National Family Health Survey, 2004, there is an estimate of 3 crore men who face domestic violence in India.[2]


The Save Family Foundation and My Nation conducted a study in 2005. Around 1650 interviews of married men falling between the age of 15-49 years were conducted by the IT Engineers community and doctors. The format adopted by them was based on a schedule issued by a WHO study on husband health and domestic violence. The study revealed that they had been subjected to economic violence (32.8%), emotional violence (22.2%), physical violence (25.2%), sexual violence (17.7%).[3]


Legislation for the Protection of Men

There have been cases where men have been subjected to domestic violence, which has led to the violation of Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India, 1950. In the case of Francis Coralie Mullin v. Union Territory Delhi, Administrator[4], the Supreme Court of India stated that

“any act which damages or injures or interferes with the use of any limb or faculty of a person, either permanently or even temporarily, would be within the inhibition of Article 21.”

The Constitution of India enshrined every person a right to live with dignity. The same guarantees protection from any sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.[5]


It is also essential to determine domestic violence in all types of relationships. In 2018, the Supreme Court of India in the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India[6], decriminalized consensual sex among the homosexual couple. The landmark judgment gave recognition to the LGBT community in India. The community has been subjected to violence since the very beginning. They have also been forcefully confined and assaulted by their families due to their choice of Partner. A 2014 review stated that same-sex partner faces more violence as compared to an opposite-sex couple.[7] The Supreme Court of India has determined that the right to choose his or her partner is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.[8] An LGBT person who is already struggling with his identity in society might lash out at his partner, ultimately resulting in physical and emotional abuse to the opposite partner. The issue of domestic violence among gay people specifically has not been addressed by Parliamentarians yet.


Under Article 15(3) of India's Constitution, 1950 the Parliament has been given a right to make laws for both women and children. The 2005 legislation only takes into consideration the violence done to wives, sisters, and daughters. In a country like India, there have been many cases of child abuse that comprise male and female children. The Act fails to address domestic violence against the male child.


Conclusion

Every person has a different way of reacting to an adverse or a problematic situation. There may be an instance where the person might not intend to commit the act, but the circumstances lead them. However, the same should not be a continuous process as it will deteriorate the survivor's mental and physical health. Many women have serious anger issues, which might affect the family very badly. The same can arise due to the frustration of the workplace. Husband’s inadequate income has also been a cause to instigate a wife against her husband.


The act of domestic violence is something that does not end straight away. If a husband is facing domestic violence charges, he is neglected by his friends and family because no one truly believes that a man can be assaulted by a woman, especially his own wife.


It is appreciated to protect women from domestic violence by having strict provisions in the present governing law. Due to social stigmas and the absence of legal remedy, many times a male partner does not come forward to report the act. Men being subjected to domestic violence leads to the violation of fundamental human rights. There should be gender equality in the laws in order to provide equal protection from spousal violence. The recent development in family laws has also removed gender disparity to an extent. The serious issue of Domestic Violence needs to be addressed by the law-markers in India holistically.

[1] Act No. 43 of 2006, Notification dated 17 Oct 2006. [2] “Domestic violence against men: High time government addressed the problem”, News 18 India, Accessed August 14th, 2020. [3] Sarkar, Swaroop; Dsouza, Rudolph; Dasgupta, Amitabh; “Domestic Violence Against Men”, Save India Foundation, My Nation, Accessed August 14th,2020. [4] AIR 1981 SC 746. [5] Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation v. Nawab Khan Gulab Khan, AIR 1997 SC 152. [6] AIR 2018 SC 4321. [7] Stiles-Shields, C; Carroll, RA (2015). "Same-Sex Domestic Violence: Prevalence, Unique Aspects, and Clinical Implications". Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Accessed August 14th,2020. [8] Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, AIR 2018 SC 1601.