Abused by Women (India)
The Asian Age, August 14, 2007

It is ironical that the Domestic Violence Act which was meant to protect women from persecution by men has, in some cases, led to the persecution of men by women. The law has been misused by vindictive wives to settle scores with their husbands. The law came into force in October 2006 and in less than a year, the Centre has been forced to set up a panel to review the Act. The move has been necessitated following the Supreme Court's chastisement of the Centre. Describing it as a "poorly drafted Act," the apex court has said that "we have to give it an interpretation that does not lead to chaos."

This was a harsh observation and the Centre had no option but to take notice. The Centre is also taking a second look at the Dowry Prohibition Act and Sexual Harassment Bill. The latter is scheduled to be introduced in the
ongoing session of Parliament. It is no secret that many women in India suffer ill-treatment at the hands of fathers, brothers and husbands. The Domestic Violence Act was meant to provide a shield to such women against physical violence and abuse from brutal spouses and heartless fathers. But in the past, there has been rampant misuse of the Anti Dowry Act (under IPC 498A). There have been instances when the entire family of the husband landed in jail after being booked under this penal code. A mere complaint from an upset wife is enough to destroy the peace and reputation of her husband's family.

The Domestic Violence Act is even more dangerous and more prone to misuse. There has been a spurt in the number of cases of domestic violence filed in courts since the law has been enacted ten months ago. It
is nobody's case that harsh laws are not required to safeguard women from brutality. But brutality is not a male monopoly. The number of husbands suffering physical and mental tortures at the hands of cruel wives is not
insignificant. These wives use such laws as a licence to perpetrate more atrocities on their husbands. So the Centre's decision to review the Domestic Violence Act and Anti Dowry Act will bring the much-needed relief
to men who have suffered unnecessarily and unfairly under the provisions of these draconian laws.