Domestic Violence Against Women

Shagun Rastogi
Article By Shagun Rastogi | 2nd Year Law student at Bennett University, Greater Noida

“It was just a slap. This happens in every house. She must have done something to provoke him.” How many times have you heard people justifying domestic violence against women?

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is a violent or aggressive behavior within home, involving violent abuse by spouse, ex-partner, immediate family members, relatives etc.

The term “domestic violence” is often used in designating physical assaults on women. There is a long history behind.

History of domestic violence

The ancient Indian text Manusmriti equated women with animals and sanctioned beating them when they made a mistake. It is quoted “bharya putrasca disasca pre yo bhratra ca saudara, praptaparadhasta ya syu rajjva ve udalena va” which means ‘The wife, the son, the slave, the servant and the uterine brother shall be beaten with a tope or a split bamboo, when they have committed a fault’.

Till the late 20th century most legal system saw this domestic violence as a family problem which should be resolved privately. Most police forces did nothing to protect women against domestic violence. A 1967 international training manual for police chiefs even stated that in dealing with domestic violence, arrests should only be the “last resort”. They didn’t recognize domestic violence as a crime. This changed with the U.S. feminist movement in the late 60s and 70s, which focused on the criminalization of the domestic violence, and popularize the slogan, ‘we will not be beaten’. Around the same time in India, the autonomous women’s movement raised awareness on the issue of violence against women, especially on sexual assault and dowry related deaths.

The Indian Penal Code was amended in 1983 to make cruelty by a women’s husband or in-laws a punishable offence but limited the definition of domestic violence to dowry related cruelty or “extreme cruelty” where extreme cruelty is defined as one which could cause “grave injury” or drive a woman to suicide.

In America, in the year 1993, an Act was made Violence against women and was put into place. This Act was made to increase the safety of women and to help them.

In 2005 a landmark legislation finally extended the definitions of domestic violence to include verbal, emotional, economic, and sexual abuse. But despite the progressive shifts in the law domestic violence remained highly prevalent. Of all the violence in the world domestic violence has the highest repeat rate. As concluded by a research it shows that around 42% of men and 52% of women believe it is reasonable for a man to beat his wife. Parliament of India passes an Act in 2005 ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’ which was enforced on 26 oct’ 2006 except In Jammu & Kashmir because of their own laws and regulation but now it is enforced there too after the scrap of article 370 and 35a.


Crime against women

Every person in this world wants to be a part of a perfect society away from all the chaos but unfortunately things are not that easy.

If two people are dating or are married at some point of time, there arises a period where the things become painful between them leading to one being a criminal and other being victim of that situation. According to a research, it shows that around 42% of men and 52% of women believe it is reasonable for a man to beat his wife. This means it’s rarely a stray, one off incident. It stems from a systematic problem with power dynamics within families. Girls are socialized into believing that keeping their husbands and in laws happy is an essential part of their marital duties. While for men, marriage is often framed as bringing someone into the family whose primary role is to take care of them. Controls of men over their wives post marriage is socially sanctioned, in fact, it is seen that not taking permission of the husband before performing a simple task, like going out, or talking on a phone, are some very common reasons given by the men for inflicting domestic violence, and these power dynamics are reinforced in seemingly harmless ways. ‘It’s a private matter’ or ‘it’s between husband and wife’ these types of notions are further used to strengthen a man’s control over his wife, by preventing her from building a good support system. It’s a surprise that women in the time of crisis have no where to turn. 75% of women who are subjected to domestic violence don’t seek help. Judges and other law enforcement officers, who operate with the same social lens, often sympathizes with men in interpretation of the law. Women can deal with this situation if she knows self defence , if she’s literate she will know about the rights that a women has in such situations, being self-independent is a good way to deal with situations like this as you have your own money, you don’t have to rely on someone for all your things, expenses, etc. and if there is understanding nature between two inmate partners then there will be compatibility and such chaos don’t arise and if arise they can solve if without any violence.

Causes of domestic violence

1- disagreement with the inmate partners.

2- unemployment

3- poverty &financial crisis

4- Jealousy

5- possessiveness



Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force to protect women from domestic violence and to ensure them residential and monetary benefits.

Any women who is or has been in a domestic relationship with he accused and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the accused. It means a women can file a complaint against her husband/mother-in-law/ father-in-law/ brother or even against live-in-partner. Domestic violence includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, economic abuse-deprivation of financial resources. The case for domestic violence can be filled with a protection officer at every district level, local police, judicial magistrate.

For woman different reliefs are there in the Act. They are:

  • Shelter home
  • Medical facilities
  • Right to reside in shared household
  • Protection orders against the accused
  • Residence orders
  • Monetary reliefs including interim maintenance
  • Custody orders
  • Compensation orders


Challenging domestic violence is not just about questioning the physical act of the violence. It is about dismantling this structural disempowerment women face in their marriages and families. Through art and activist movement online and offline, feminists are doing exactly that. They are raising questions about male entitlement in households, about women being raised as ‘meek compromisers’, about violence being hushed up within four walls, about women having the right to live a dignified lives within their homes and even outside the home because even if it is “just one slap” it is simply unacceptable.

This article was written by Shagun Rastogi, a 2nd Year student at Bennett University, Greater Noida. She may be reached at The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of Hello Counsel.

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