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Domestic Violence Act

India has progressive laws for the protection of women from domestic violence. Our challenge is to provide awareness and help implement them.

India has one of the most progressive sets of laws for the protection of women from domestic violence. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (POWDV) Act was passed in 2015 with the goal of restoring women to equal standing in their own homes.

Prior to the POWDV Act there was no legal definition and no legal protection from domestic violence in India. The enactment of the law is a huge step forward and milestone for both the judiciary and the women’s rights movement. The Act includes in its definition of violence verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse, and offers free legal service to such victims.

This page offers a simplified summary of key aspects of The Act. If you would like a thorough or academic insight into The Act, we recommend reading the publications of Lawyers Collective run by the primary proponent of The Act’s writing and implementation, Indiria Jaising. A great place to start is the Lawyers Collective’s piece on “Frequently Asked Questions on the POWDV Act”.

What Do I Need to Know About the Act?

What are the key features?

  • Unambiguous recognition of the woman’s right to live free from violence – provides immediate relief to victims in cases of emergency.
  • The right to reside in shared household – recognizes inequality within the home.
  • Ensures effective access to justice – introduces new authorities & mechanisms (Protection Officer as the interface between the woman and the court).
  • Access to immediate orders to prevent further acts of violence, to provide remedies for violence faced and to prevent destitution of women.

How does it define domestic violence?

  • Any form of abuse causing harm or injury to the physical and / or mental health of the woman or compromising her life and safety.
  • Any harassment for dowry or to meet any other unlawful demand.
  • Threat to cause injury or harm.

(Includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, economic abuse)

Note :

  • Domestic relationships are not restricted to the marital context
  • Domestic relationships are meant to cover sisters, widows, mothers, daughters, women in relationships of cohabitation, single women etc.
  • Domestic relationships also protect women of fraudulent or bigamous marriages or in marriages invalid in law

Read more on identifying abuse

What Provisions for Relief Does it Provide?

Protection Orders

  • Against continuation of domestic violence
  • Against approaching the victim of domestic violence or persons related to her at places of stay and work
  • Against disposal / alienation of property of the victim of domestic violence

Residence Orders

  • Protecting rights of the victim to stay in the shared house hold or
  • alternate accommodation to be arranged by her husband or male partner.

Monetary Relief

  • Towards expenses incurred as a consequence of domestic violence, which may include loss of earnings and the medical expenses.
  • Maintenance of the victim of domestic violence and the children (if they are with the victim).

Custody Order

  • For temporary custody of children to their mother in order to prevent emotional abuse and/ or blackmail.

Compensation Order

  • For physical and mental injury and pain caused by domestic violence.
  • For loss of wages / employment suffered by victim as a consequence of domestic violence.

Interim / Ex Parte Order

  • To safe guard and protect the life and property of the victim of domestic violence and to stall the violence likely in the near future.

PeaceMakers receive thorough training on The Act so they can explain to a survivor of domestic abuse that not only is the abuse they are facing morally wrong, but it is also illegal. Our PeaceMakers are trained in how to implement the provisions of The Act, for example, submitting a Protection Order to a Protection Officer. Operation PeaceMaker Counselling Centres have all the infrastructure in place to support our PeaceMakers in their execution of any of the above legal actions when necessary.

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