Domestic violence in India is almost always a hushed-up phenomenon. Women rarely open about the abuse they endure within their homes, much less seek legal recourse. Friends and relatives constantly urge them to ‘compromise’ and often, she also convinces herself that there is no abuse simply because there is no beating up. Other forms of violence like verbal assault, and emotional trauma are swept under the carpet. Till recently, these were not even included in the legal definition of the term ‘violence’.
The new Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, which came into effect from October 26 this year, seeks to change that. The scope of the term domestic violence has now been widened to include actual abuse or the threat of abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic.
Are laws enough to guarantee a safe domestic environment for women or do we need something more? Can laws as these, albeit well meaning and wide reaching in their scope, truly empower women to come forward and fearlessly fight abuse? How can we ensure that there is no laxity in their implementation?
Md Ziyaullah Khan