THE All India Democratic Women’s Association welcomes the notification of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 after a delay of more than a year after it became a statute. The act is a result of concerted demands from the women’s movement and is of critical importance to women in any situation of violence at home. The act for the first time provides for civil remedies to women by way of protection orders, residence orders, maintenance etc. and thus is much wider in scope than for example Section 498A of the IPC. An important aspect of the act is its wide definition of violence that includes all forms of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse and violence.
It provides for protection orders for a woman to prohibit her husband or any other man in the home from committing or aiding and abetting any act of domestic violence. These protection orders can also be sought to prevent the man from following a woman or child and from communicating with them in any form. The act further provides for orders against alienation of household assets including joint property and stridhan and operation of joint bank accounts by the man.
Women in situations of violence are often thrown out of their matrimonial home. The PDVA act for the first time recognises the right of a woman to reside in her matrimonial home or shared household whether she has a right or title to the house or not. The act provides for residence orders which a woman can get to stop her husband or partner from dispossessing her. It even provides that the Court can “direct the respondent to remove himself from the shared household”. Apart from this the act provides for monetary relief and/or compensation for the woman or child and for custody orders. All women and children living in a shared household can be aggrieved parties under the act. However, the respondent under the act can only be a male person though a wife can file a complaint against the husband and his relatives.
The relief under the act can be granted by a magistrate or in any other pending legal proceeding before a civil court, family court or a criminal court and can be initiated by an aggrieved woman or child, protection officer or any other person on her behalf. It is significant that the act applies to all Indian women regardless of caste and community. AIDWA demands that the government give wide publicity through public media to the provisions of the act, and ensures its implementation.