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  • Writer's pictureShivani Maurya

Domestic Violence against Women in India - A Social Evil or a Dark Side of Indian Society

Women are the only exploited group in the history to have been idealized into powerlessness.

- Karl Marx

Husband tortured his wife, men physically assaulted a woman in a drunken state, passing bad remarks to the newly wedded bride by the in-laws, woman killed for dowry by the husband and his family etc. these are the news which we see and read on every day basis. This is the bitter truth of our patriarchal society. This article deals with the various forms of domestic violence faced by the women in India. Their causes and variations are also discussed and the aftereffects of different kinds, the laws governing domestic violence and the remedies available against it have been highlighted; and, a conclusion has been drawn after complete analysis.

Domestic violence also known as domestic abuse, family violence, battering, spousal abuse, intimate partner violence against the partner in an intimate relationship i.e., marriage, dating, family or consented cohabitation. Domestic Violence includes physical aggression or assault like hitting, kicking, biting, slapping, throwing objects, restraining etc. or threat thereof, economic deprivation or economic abuse, mental harassment, domination or controlling the spouse. Not only this, it may be constituted as criminal coercion, unlawful confinement, trespassing, stalking, endangerment too. The reasons are different may be alcohol consumption, frustration, stress, mental illness, family issues or be it anything but the resultants are same and i.e. domestic violence against women. Almost every third women is subjected to domestic violence in our country. There are many cases which even not reported due to family pressure or for the sake of family’s respect in the society or even some are accepted it as a part of their marriage or a part of our culture. Here we will discuss every aspect of the domestic violence, domestic violence during the present pandemic COVID-19, the laws, and its implementation in domestic violence cases; also, the reliefs and remedies avaliable, and the changes made under this by the Courts.

Kinds of Domestic violence

A. Physical Abuse

Physical abuse means injury, pain, physical contacting intended to cause bodily harm or physical suffering. It includes slapping, punching, choking, hitting, pushing, burning and other types of physical injury to the victim. It also includes denying the victim of medical care, depriving her from sleep or restricted her from performing the function necessary for live. It includes forcing the women for having drug/alcohol without her consent. Compelling her for performing such functions which resulted in physical suffering to her such as forcing a woman for lifting over burdened object during pregnancy or forcing to perform such activity which resulted for miscarriage etc.

B. Mental Abuse

Mental abuse is also known as emotional abuse or psychological abuse. Mental abuse includes conflicting actions or statements which are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the mind of the women, humiliating her in public or private, withholding information from her, isolating her from her family and friend, controlling her without her consent, doing something which makes victim feel embarrassed, blackmailing her, degrading her character or spreading false statements regarding her character etc. It includes verbal abuse that threaten or undermine the self-esteem, self-worth of a women, that controls the victim’s freedom. It includes using abusive language against her. It includes any act which results in depression, or abets her to commit suicide.

C. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any act which force for sexual intercourse without or intimation in an aggression or committing violence her consent. It is also known as marital rape. It even includes any activity during the consented intercourse.

D. Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is a abuse when one partner having control over all economic activity or prevents the partner from performing any kind of economic activity and exploits other. The motive behind this exploitation is to make the partner dependent on other and preventing him/her from taking education, finding employment, gaining assets and become independent.

Causes of domestic violence

There are many reasons for domestic violence in India. These includes personal traits, mental state, family environment related to women, social theories, such as patriarchal ideologies, stress, depression, family issues, marital conflicts, addiction of alcohol/drug, financial status, jealousy, anger issues, insecurities, social stress, trust issues etc. But the main reason among all is psychological position of the person. In India most of the men supports or influenced from the patriarchal ideology. They think men are superior in the society and women are not equal to men. That’s why men has all the rights to exploit women to rule over her to control her and use her for their purposes. In Indian society women are considered as a good which is made for the enjoyment of the men on the earth. This kind of thinking is the biggest reason for domestic violence against women in India.

The second one is stress. Almost every person is suffering from stress which made person frustrated and this frustration results as domestic violence. The personal traits are also a one of the reasons of domestic violence. Most of the accused of domestic violence having anger issues, short-tempered nature. Further, economical position of a person also plays a vital role in most of the cases relating to domestic violence. The financial status of the person is also important in domestic violence cases but it is not the single reason for domestic violence. The person jealous from his partner’s income or its financial status may use threats or commits the act of domestic violence. Marital conflicts are most common cause among all domestic violence cases. The insecurity or any other personal difference mostly results in domestic violence be it physical, mental or financial. There are many other reasons for constituting domestic violence but the main reasons are explained above.

Consequences of domestic violence

There are so many consequences of the domestic violence some resulted in physical injuries like break bones, bruises, internal or external bleedings, causing miscarriage, pre-term labor and injury to or death of the foetus etc. There are some psychological consequences also like victim suffers depression, high amount of stress, fear and anxiety etc. It is reported that 60% of the victims meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, either during or after termination of marriage/relationship, and have a greatly increased risk of suicide by the victims.

The domestic violence has a great impact on the children and their development who exposed to domestic violence in their childhood. Mostly they have anxiety problem, increased aggressiveness and lack of skills such as problem solving etc. The society also suffers the consequences of the domestic violence. The development of the country and society depend upon its citizens and if the citizens are not happy, they can’t contribute in the development of the country and society. The countries having less domestic violence cases are doing good in every sector comparative to those countries which are having the more cases of domestic violence in their country.

Laws relating to Domestic Violence

A. Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860

In 1983, Domestic Violence was introduced as a crime under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred as 'IPC'). Section 498A deals with the cruelty by the Husband or Relatives of husband. In this four type of conducts are defined under the act that are;

(a) conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,

(b) conduct that id likely cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,

(c) Harassment with the purpose of forcing the women or her relatives to give some property.

(d) Harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for money or does not give some property to husband or his relatives.

The punishment for the offence constituted under Section 498A is imprisonment up to three years and fine. For this complaint must be lodged by the victim itself or by her any relative on her behalf against the husband or his relatives. Under IPC only the offence and its punishment is defined. There is no civil remedy available to the victim under IPC.

B. Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

This Act came into force on 26 October 2006 with the aim to protect women from domestic violence and provide some civil remedies to those women who are subjected to domestic violence in their life but didn’t want separation from the husband or want some civil remedies from Court. In the case of Roma Rajesh Tiwari v. Rajesh Dinanath Tiwari[i], the Court discussed the right of the women to reside in her matrimonial home.

The Court even covers the cases of live-in-relationships under the Act with some specific conditions and provided remedies to the victims under the Act. There are various interpretations by the Court in which court provides various civil remedies to the victims of domestic violence. In the case of D. Veluswamy v. D. Patchaiammal[ii] the Supreme Court gave a wider meaning of ‘an aggrieved person’ under Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act, wherein the Court enumerated five ingredients of a live-in relationship as follows:

(i) Parties must behave as husband & wife and recognized as husband & wife in front of the society.

(ii) Valid legal age of the parties.

(iii) They must have voluntarily cohabited for a significant period of time.

(iv) They should qualify to enter into marriage (no souse living).

(v) They must have to share households.

In this case the Court also referred to the term ‘palimony’ which means grant of maintenance to women who has lived for substantial period of time with a man without marring and is then deserted by him.

In the case of Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand & Anr.[iii], the Supreme Court held that maintenance can be claimed under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 even if the claimant is not a legally wedded wife. The Bench also covers ‘Economic Abuse’ under Section 3(a) of the Act, and the Court says that the victim i.e., estranged wife or live-in-partner would be entitled to the more relief than what is contemplated under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure. There are many other cases also in which Court discussed the civil rights of the women under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Section 498(A) of IPC also working for the protection of women and deals with the cruelty by the husband and his relatives, but still the acts of domestic violence are increasing day by day.

COVID- 19 and Domestic Violence

In the present stage of Pandemic, the whole world is suffering from COVID-19 and lockdown, but the situation is worst for the women in present era. According to many researches the cases of domestic violence are increased during the lockdown period. The women faced everyday a new injury be it on their body or on their mind. They are tortured physically, mentally and emotionally in every second during lockdown.

According to sociologist Marianne Hester,

Domestic Violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as the Christmas and summer vacations”.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown, the number of complaints received by the National Commission for Women (NCW) had doubled. As we know the present pandemic is not going to stop anytime soon, the cases of COVID-19 are increasing day by day. Hence, lockdown and social distancing is necessary for the safety of all of us, but the question still remained same is this lockdown is safe for women in our houses?


There should be public enlightenment through the mass media on the negative effects of domestic violence against women, children, and family; and a comprehensive and extensive counseling should be given at every level by the social workers, activists, political leaders, religious leaders, and even by the family members of the accused and victims both. Medical professionals, should refer the victims to the psychologist after physical treatment.

Further, grievous punishment should be given to the offenders and the punishment must be published at every level on media, local news papers etc. Community education should be given against domestic violence because adequate sensitization can only changes the though process. There should be new policies made and recommendations issued by the government against domestic violence in the present stage of COVID-19. At family level there should be education and discussion have been done by the family members and restrict the acts of domestic violence in our families.


[i] Roma Rajesh Tiwari v Rajesh Dinanath Tiwari Writ Petition No.10696 Of 2017

[ii] D. Veluswamy v D. Patchaiammal (2010) 10 SCC 469

[iii] Lalita Toppo v State of Jharkhand & Anr. Criminal Appeal No(s). 1656/2015

*The author of this post is Shivani Maurya a law-student from University of Lucknow.

Article Number: 2021/LKLR/06B06


The views expressed in this article belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Journal.

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