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Ensuring Safety Of Women In Homes: Domestic Violence Laws And Other Measures – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Session Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a four week Online National Spring School Program on ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’ from March 5th, 2024 to March 27th 2024.

The course, spread over four weeks, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into understanding, addressing and eradicating gender-based violence. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered the participants to expand their thinking and enhance their understanding of challenges surrounding gender-based violence. The four-week duration allows for an in-depth exploration of the subject matter, fostering a collaborative learning environment where participants shared experiences, perspectives, and innovative solutions. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

Day 3rd of the ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’ by Adv Dr Shalu Nigam, Visiting Senior Fellow IMPRI; Advocate, Author, and Researcher, Gender and Human Rights revolved around ensuring safety of women in domestic spaces.

Explaining Domestic Violence-

Adv. Dr. Nigam commenced the session with the importance of making homes a safe space for women. According to Adv. Dr. Nigam, the question of domestic spaces being unsafe for women arose especially during the pandemic period when the cases of domestic abuse skyrocketed.

Adv. Dr. Nigam explained domestic abuse also known as domestic violence or intimate partner violence as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over one’s partner. Abuses according to Adv. Dr. Nigam can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological. Any kind of violence, highlighted by Adv. Dr. Nigam instills the fear of future abuse or attack and such a fear allows the abuse to take control of victim’s life and circumstances. The menace of domestic abuse, Adv. Dr. Nigam explained cuts across caste, class, religion and age.

Domestic Abuse: Different Dimensions

Adv. Dr. Nigam, taking the session forward elucidated how family, is glorified in different broadcast media sources, but at the same time, she highlighted family also reproduces patriarchy. Adv. Dr. Nigam shared J.S. Mill’s work- ‘The Subjection of Women’ to portray marriage as a form of slavery whereby the power is conferred to men. Adv. Dr. Nigam in the session underlined the findings of National Family Health Survey and the National Crime Record reports to illustrate domestic spaces as a vulnerable space for women.  

Constitution Promises Equality but No Equality in the Family-

Adv. Dr. Nigam outlined the provisions of Indian constitution that guarantees equality, t the same time, Adv. Dr. Nigam explained within families the principle of equality is not operated. Highlighting Delhi High Court’s judgement in one of cases, Adv. Dr. Nigam exposed the Court’s view of implementing constitutional law within families as a destroyer of marriages.

Domestic Violence and Legal Reforms in Indian Context-

Adv. Dr. Nigam discussing legal reforms in India underlined, laws on various kinds of violence on women, did not emerge till 1980s i.e. after the women’s’ movement in the session. She highlighted the parliamentary debates surrounding the issue of dowry which was seen as a traditional, harmless, gift or exchange in marriages. Adv. Dr. Nigam as an expert in the field also drew session’s attention towards the challenges faced in dispensing justice to the victims of domestic abuse, without any legal provisions addressing the same. The reporting of such abuses were not taking place due to absence of laws, Adv. Dr. Nigam explained.

Adv. Dr. Nigam explained in the session, even after laws were passed by the parliament, the Acts had several gaps towards addressing abuse. These gaps in legislation were put forth by the women’s’ movements that were addressed subsequently through amendments. The amendments in domestic violence and dowry prohibition act were discussed by Adv. Dr. Nigam in length. Adv. Dr. Nigam also explained the impact of patriarchy on women cells that were established to address the issues of violence against women.

Women’s movement, according to Adv. Dr. Nigam played a pivotal role in involving state into addressing the issue of violence in domestic spaces against women. The women’s movement projected domestic abuse as serious crimes that required legal interventions, rather than a social evil. The movement lobbied for civil protection for the survivors of violence that were later added within the laws, like right of a woman to live in a violence free home. The legal framework has also expanded to include abuse of different kinds, relations and ages. The provisions of domestic violence act were explained in details by Adv. Dr. Nigam and the law was portrayed as a feminist law.

Outlining the challenges in the session, within the laws dealing with violence against women, Adv. Dr. Nigam explained, lack of emphasis on trauma healing and recovery of the victims of domestic violence. Adv. Dr. Nigam also highlighted the position of shelter homes designed for women survivors of abuse.

Concluding the session, Adv. Dr. Nigam quoted Gloria Steinem sharing her view that for patriarchy to exist, violence is required and therefore threats to women are often the men they know.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

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