The spread of the Coronavirus 19 pandemic has led the world to witness unprecedented times. While the states all over the world have started the process of development of a vaccine, unprecedented and unheard measures of social distancing and the complete lockdown was enacted by various Governments in order to arrest the spread of the virus. This had resulted in the restriction of movement of people out of their houses except for very essential purposes. As a result of these measures, the spouses started spending more time together which resulted in the spread of what is called a ‘shadow pandemic'. The term ‘shadow pandemic' has been coined in order to denote the rising cases of domestic violence against the women by their husbands. Therefore, this post tends to clarify the meaning of the term ‘Domestic Violence' as has been defined under Section 3 of the Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The term domestic violence is not given a narrow meaning of just physical violence, as is commonly understood, by this Act. The Act is welfare legislation which has given a very elaborative meaning to the term domestic violence. The term domestic violence includes not only such acts, omission, commission or conduct which causes a threat to the victim's physical or mental health but also includes sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse. The meaning of these abuses have been provided under explanation to Section 3.
Any conduct on the part of the male which has the effect of degrading or violating the dignity of the woman may amount to sexual abuse. This may include instances of unwelcome sexual comments by the male person. If the male insults, humiliate or calls the victim with a derogatory name or ridicules her for not having a child or a male child, he is said to be perpetrating emotional and verbal abuse. Calling a woman ‘barren’ by the male for the reason of not being able to procreate due to medical complications may amount to verbal and emotional abuse. Economic abuse in most simple terms includes the act on the part of the male person of depriving the victim of all or any economic or financial resources to which she is entitled to such an extent that she is not able to meet her basic necessities. Besides that, harassing or injuring the victim in order to induce her or any person who is interested in her to resort to the perpetrator's demand for dowry or valuable security also amount to domestic violence.
Therefore it is very important that the meaning of the term domestic violence is made known to the majority of the woman so that they do not suffer in silence. Usually, domestic violence does not start with physical violence but occurs mostly in the form of emotional or economic abuse. Therefore, it is in the interest of justice that action must be taken by the women at the initial stages itself without waiting for the physical violence to ensue against them.
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Written By: Mr. Manik Mahajan, Final Year Student, LLB, Punjab University, Law Intern at S.Bhambri & Associates (Advocates), Delhi.