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Battered Women Syndrome

Domestic violence is a common problem that may affect more than a quarter of women. It is a complex area in which to undertake research. Studies often focus on selected populations and exhibit a diversity of design, making comparison difficult.

This review focuses on physical violence by men against women partners or ex-partners, and exemplifies important issues for general practitioners. Domestic violence frequently goes undetected. This may be the result of doctor's fears of exploring an area perceived as time-consuming, where knowledge is lacking and where they feel powerless to fix the situation.

Women may not reveal that they are experiencing violence, sometimes because doctors are unsympathetic or hostile. Nevertheless, women wish to be asked routinely about physical abuse and want to receive immediate advice and information about their options if necessary.

Women experience a range of health and social problems in association with domestic violence, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and pregnancy complications. However, none of these features is specific enough to be useful as an indicator of violence.

Therefore, doctors should routinely ask all women direct questions about abuse. This recommendation can be incorporated into guidelines, which should be implemented widely in the UK, to improve the care of women experiencing domestic violence. In parallel with this, the educational needs of general practitioners should be addressed.

Further research is needed to establish the prevalence of domestic violence in women presenting to general practice and to investigate how the problem is currently being addressed. If progress is to be made in tackling domestic violence, action within primary care is just one part of this: a fundamental change in the attitudes of men towards women is required. Domestic violence is a pattern of assault and coercive behaviour including physical, sexual and psychological attacks, by a person against his/her own intimate partner.

Women are more frequently the victims. After a global overview of the prevalence and nature of domestic violence against women especially in Mauritius, this articles provides a discussion about health problems and risk factors among the female victims with the objective of giving preventive measures to eradicate it from society[1].

NGOs, along with legislative measures, have proven helpful in improving quality of life and preventing violence-related injuries among women. The health sector also plays an important role as part of multi-sector efforts in early detection and prevention of cases of domestic violence. Psychiatrists are in a unique position for early identification of such patients as well as intervention.

Domestic violence also known as domestic abuse is defined as:
# An incident or a pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. It concerns people aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members and it can happen regardless of your gender or sexuality. Domestic violence can include, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, emotional, physical, sexual and financial. It also includes what is known as 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. Domestic violence affects people of every class, gender, level of wealth, geography, age, race, disability and sexuality.

The violence can begin at any stage of the relationship and may continue after the relationship has ended. It is a pattern of controlling and aggressive behaviour that is intentional and calculated to exercise power and control within a relationship.

Domestic abuse is when one person in a relationship uses different ways to gain power and control over the other. Abuse is behaviour that physically harms, causes fear, prevents a person from doing what they want, or forces them to behave in ways they do not freely choose.

# Domestic abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological, financial, or spiritual. Many victims say that the emotional and psychological abuse is just as bad if not worse than the physical abuse and that it is harder to recover from.

# Domestic abuse can happen in any family or intimate partner relationship. It can happen to anyone, regardless of his or her social group, background, race, class, gender, religion, age, ability or disability, sexual orientation or lifestyle. Women are overwhelmingly the victims of most serious domestic abuse, but sometimes men are the victims too.

# Men are usually the perpetrators of the most serious domestic abuse, but sometimes women are perpetrators too. In New Zealand, domestic abuse happens to people of all ethnicities, cultures, ages, sexual identities, and socioeconomic groups.

A Brief Overview – Battered Women Syndrome
Battered woman or battered person syndrome is a psychological condition that can result when a person experiences abuse, usually at the hands of an intimate partner.

What types of abuse does it involve?
Abuse of an intimate partner can take many forms, including emotional, physical, and financial abuse.
· Sexual abuse: This includes rape, unwanted sexual contact, and verbal sexual harassment.
· Stalking: A person uses threatening tactics that cause a person to feel fear and concern for their safety.
· Physical abuse: Including slapping, shoving, burning, and the use of a knife or gun to cause bodily harm.
· Psychological aggression: Examples include calling a person names, humiliating them, or coercive control, which means behaving in a way that aims to control the person.[2]

According to the NCADV, a person who is experiencing abuse may:
# feel isolated, anxious, depressed, or helpless
# be embarrassed and fear judgment and stigmatization
# love the person who is harming them and believe they will change
# be emotionally withdrawn and lack support from family and friends
# deny that anything is wrong or excuse the person who is abusing them
# be unaware of the type of help that is available
# have moral or religious reasons for staying in the relationship
When a person has been through an abusive relationship, the impact can continue long after leaving the relationship.

The person may:
# experience sleep problems, including nightmares and insomnia
# have sudden intrusive feelings about the abuse avoid talking about the abuse
# avoid situations that remind them of the abuse
# experience feelings of anger, sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness
# have intense feelings of fear
# have panic attacks or flashbacks to the abuse

Physical abuse can lead to injuries such as organ damage, broken bones, and lost teeth. Sometimes the injuries can be lasting and possibly life-threatening. The impact of abuse on a person's wellbeing can be severe. For this reason, it is important to know that help is available and to seek help.

Stages of Abuse
Abuse can happen on a single occasion, it can be a long-term problem, it can happen most of the time or only from time to time.
It often occurs in cycles.

# Tension building: Tension slowly builds and causes low-level conflict. The person who is carrying out the abuse may feel neglected or angry. They may think that these feelings justify their aggression toward the victim.
# Battering phase: Over time, the tension grows into a conflict, culminating in abuse, which may be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual. Over time, these episodes may last longer and become more severe.
# Honeymoon phase: After carrying out the abuse, the individual may feel remorse. They may attempt to win back their partner's trust and affection. The person who experiences the abuse may idealize their partner during this period, seeing only their good side and making excuses for what happened.

According to the NCADV, people who carry out abuse can often be charming and pleasant outside the periods of abuse. These factors, too, can make it hard for a partner to leave.

Indian laws relating to Domestic Violence

Sections in Indian Penal Code
498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty:
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation- For the purpose of this section, cruelty means- (a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

The basic essentials to attract this section are:
a) The woman must be married
b) She must be subjected to cruelty or harassment; and Such cruelty or harassment must have been shown either by husband of the woman or by the relative of her husband A bare glance of the section shows that the word cruelty covers any or all of the following elements:
(i) Any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide; or
(ii) any wilful conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the woman; or (iii) any wilful act which is likely to cause danger to life, limb or health whether physical or mental of the woman Also, criminality attached to word harassment is free of cruelty and punishable in the following instances:
(i) Where the harassment of the woman is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or

(ii) Where the harassment is on account of failure by her or any persons related to her to meet such demand It is evident that neither every cruelty nor harassment has criminal culpability for the purposes of Section 498-A. In cases of physical violence and infliction of injury likely to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health, the facts speak for themselves.

So, we can see that, this law deals with four types of cruelty:
(i) Any conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
(ii) Any conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
(iii) Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
(iv) Harassment because the woman or her relatives are either unable to yield to the demand for more money or do not give some share of the property.

Protection of Women under Domestic Violence 2005

The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as the Domestic Violence Act) drafted for women empowerment and for protection of women against acts of violence in India.

Scope of the Act

The scope of this piece of legislation has been expounded in plethora of judgements by the High Courts and the Supreme Court in India. For instance, in a recent judgment the High Court of Gujarat in the case of Bhartiben Bipinbhai Tamboli v. State of Gujrat and ors.

While extensively discussing the provisions under the Domestic Violence Act remarked that:
The domestic violence in this Country is rampant and several women encounter violence in some form or the other or almost everyday. However, it is the least reported form of cruel behaviour. A woman resigns her fate to the never ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner, a single woman in her lifetime. This non- retaliation by women coupled with the absence of laws addressing womens issues, ignorance of the existing laws enacted for women and societal attitude makes the women vulnerable. The reason why most case of domestic violence are never reported is due to the social stigma of the society and the attitude of the women themselves, where women are expected to be subservient, not just to their male counterparts but also to the male relatives.

Till the year 2005, the remedies available to a victim of domestic violence were limited. The women either had to go to the civil court for a decree of divorce or initiate prosecution in the criminal court for the offence punishable under Section 498A of IPC.

In both the proceedings, no emergency relief is available to the victim. Also, the relationships outside the marriage were not recognized. This set of circumstances ensured that a majority of women preferred to suffer in silence, not out of choice but of compulsion. Having regard to all these facts, the Parliament thought fit to enact Domestic Violence Act. The main Object of the Act is protection of women from violence inflicted by a man or/and a woman. It is a progressive Act, whose sole intention is to protect the women irrespective of the relationship she shares with the accused.

The definition of an aggrieved person under the Act is so wide that it taken within its purview even women who are living with their partners in a live in relationship.

Who can file a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act?
Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act defines “aggrieved person” as any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent.

The Domestic Violence Act not only covers those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser but it also covers those women who have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage of through a relationship in the nature of marriage or adoption.

Even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, or living in any other relationship with the abuser are entitled to legal protection under the Domestic Violence Act.

Against whom can the complaint be filed under the Domestic Violence Act?
Section 2(q) of the Domestic Violence Act defines “respondent” as any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act:
Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.

In view of the definition of the term respondent covering adult male person, the judiciary has time and again been confronted with the argument that an aggrieved person can file complain under the Domestic Violence Act against an adult male person only and not against the female relatives of the husband i.e. mother-in-law, sister-in-law.

However, the Supreme Court in the case of Sandhya Wankhede vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wnakhede[6] put ot rest the issue by holding that the proviso to Section 2(q) does not exclude female relatives of the husband or male partner from the ambit of a complaint that can be made under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act. Therefore, complaints are not just maintainable against the adult male person but also the female relative of such adult male[7].

Wife cannot implicate one and all in the family-Though the Domestic Violence Actis a beneficial legislation, the same has been many times reported to be misused by women. For instance, in several cases women register complaint under Domestic Violence Act against one and all relatives of husband even without any evidence of abuse against them.

In the case of Ashish Dixit vs. State of UP & Anr. the Supreme Court has held that a wife cannot implicate one and all in a Domestic violence case. In this case, the complainant apart from arraying the husband and in-­laws in the complaint, had also included all and sundry as parties to the case, of which the complainant didnt even know names.

Types of abuse under the Domestic Violence Act

The Gujrat High Court in a recent case of Bhartiben Bipinbhai Tamboli v. State of Gujrat and ors. (read here) elaborated on the types of abuse or domestic violence under the Act. The same is enumerated below:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the use of physical force against a woman in a way that causes her bodily injury or hurt. Physical assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force are also forms of physical abuse like beating, kicking and punching, throwing objects, damaging property, punched walls, kicked doors, abandoning her in a dangerous or unfamiliar place, using a weapon to threaten or hurt her, forcing her to leave the matrimonial home, hurting her children, using physical force in sexual situations.

Sexual Abuse

This is also a form of physical abuse. Any situation in which a woman is forced to participate in unwanted safe or degrading sexual activity, calling her sexual names, hurting a woman with objects and weapons during sex is sexual abuse.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Many women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked – even by the woman being abused.
Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. Isolation, intimidation and controlling behaviour also fall under emotional abuse. Calls her names, insults her or continually criticizes her.

Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is not a very recognized form of abuse among the women but it is very detrimental. Economic abuse mainly includes a woman not been provided with enough money by her partner to maintain herself and her children, which may comprise money for food, clothing, medicines etc. and not allowing a woman to take up an employment . Forcing her out of the house and not allowing a woman to take up an employment. Forcing her out of the house where she lives and not providing her rent, in case of a rented share hold also amounts to abuse.

Depriving her of all or any economic or financial resources to which the person is entitled under the law or custom, restricting the womans access to the shared household. Disposing or alienating the assets of the women whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like other property in which she may have an interest. However seeking maintenance to unjustly enrich ones self and that too without providing the alleged act of domestic violence is a gross abuse of the process of law.

Duty of Courts while deciding cases under the Domestic Violence Act

In the case of Krishna Bhatacharjee vs. Sarathi Choudhury and Another[8], the Apex Court while elucidating on the duty of courts while deciding complaints under the Domestic Violence Act stated that:
# It is the duty of the Court to scrutinise the facts from all angles whether a plea advanced by the respondent to nullify the grievance of the aggrieved person is really legally sound and correct.

# The principle “justice to the cause is equivalent to the salt of ocean” should be kept in mind. The Court of Law is bound to uphold the truth which sparkles when justice is done.

# Before throwing a petition at the threshold, it is obligatory to see that the person aggrieved under such a legislation is not faced with a situation of non-adjudication, for the 2005 Act as we have stated is a beneficial as well as assertively affirmative enactment for the realisation of the constitutional rights of women and to ensure that they do not become victims of any kind of domestic violence[3]

3.3 Establishment of women cell

4. International Laws Related to Domestic Violence

International law and policy on domestic violence has developed primarily through the work of the United Nations in treaties resolutions, and conferences. The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women also serves as an independent expert to the U.N. on issues encompassing domestic violence. These actors, along with activists around the world, have spent decades working to have domestic violence recognized as a violation of human rights, to raise awareness, conduct research, and promote education on the issue, and to establish state responsibility for private acts of domestic violence. Through their efforts, there is now clear guidance that not only is domestic violence a violation of human rights, but that states have a responsibility to prevent violence against women in all its forms, protect women from violence, punish perpetrators of violence against women, and provide reparations to victims.

UN Treaties on Domestic Violence

Many treaties and conventions do not specifically mention domestic violence or violence against women, but they have still been interpreted as relevant to domestic violence. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention Against To.

UN Resolutions on Domestic Violence

The Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have adopted numerous resolutions that address violence against women, including the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Resolution 18/47, and many additional resolutions over the past few decades.

UN Conference Documents on Domestic Violence

The international community has come together to fight domestic violence at various international conferences, including the Conference in Copenhagen, the World Conference on Women in Nairobi, and the Beijing Conferences. The documents produced, while not binding, serve as important resources for establishing a consensus on ending domestic violence throughout the world.

Domestic Violence: Special Rapporteur

The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women plays a key role in helping to end domestic violent. The Special Rapporteur visits countries throughout the world, gathers information, reports to the UN Human Rights Council, and makes recommendations to governments and agencies.

State Responsibility for Domestic Violence

While traditionally, international law was seen as inapplicable to domestic violence because it is performed by individuals rather than governments of nations, in the past few decades, the development of the Due Diligence Standard has changed perspectives on the applicability of international law to the private sphere

Conclusion Domestic violence is one of the most horrendous kinds of abuse suffered women in our society today. The statistics show that 85 percent of domestic violence victims are female. Only 15 percent of victims are men. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, it does not matter the race, creed, religion, or standing in society of the victim. If the issue of domestic violence is not dealt with in a manner, which is sufficient, then this type of abuse will continue among all classes of society with no ending. In order for us as a society to eradicate this horrendous type of abuse, we need to stand together and make tougher laws, which will protect the victims of this abuse.

The problems of child maltreatment, domestic violence, and elder abuse have generated hundreds of separate interventions in social service, health, and law enforcement settings. This array of interventions has been driven by the urgency of the different types of family violence, client needs, and the responses of service providers, advocates, and communities. The interventions now constitute a broad range of institutional services that focus on the identification, treatment, prevention, and deterrence of family violence.

The array of interventions that is currently in place and the dozens of different types of programs and services associated with each intervention represent a valuable body of expertise and experience that is in need of systematic scientific study to inform and guide service design, treatment, prevention, and deterrence.

The challenge for the research community, service providers, program sponsors, and policy makers is to develop frameworks to enhance critical analyses of current strategies, interventions, and programs and identify next steps in addressing emerging questions and cross-cutting issues. Many complexities now characterize family violence interventions and challenge the development of rigorous scientific evaluations.

End-Notes [1] United Nation Report On Domestic Violence

Written by: Deepika (Student) - Kr Mangalam Umiversity, Haryana
Email: [email protected]

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