Monday, January 3, 2011

Domestic Violence as an International Human Rights Issue

Domestic Violence as an International Human Rights Issue:[Seminar paper ;Year 2001]


The Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of objectives of equality,development and peace.According to Platform for Action and Beijing Declaration the term 'Violence against Women' means 'Any act of gender-based  violence that result in or is likely result in Physical,sexual,Psychological harm to suffering to women including threats of such acts ,coercion,or arbitrary deprivation of liberty ,whether occurring in public"
The abuse of women by their male partners is among the most common and dangerous forms of gender violence.Due to increase in literacy and mobilisation of woman has enhanced the awareness regarding legal in- justice,social in -equalities and economic disadvantages from which they suffer.General Recommendation no .19 , adopted at convention for elimination of discrimination against woman [CEDAW], 11th  session in 1992 , defined gender-based violence as a form of discrimination which  seriously inhibits women"s ability to enjoy rights & freedoms on the basis of equality  with men ". Further , the UN studies on family violence notes that victims of domestic violence operate under pressure not felt by other crime victims.
In this paper i would like to discuss regarding various forms of domestic violence , whether domestic violence can be regarded as an International Human Rights issue.

Forms of Violence on Women :

The Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women[CEDAW] does not mention violence .Some forms of violence which are at debate at the international level are-
  1. Domestic Violence- murder,rape,battery,cruelty ,harassment including dowry harassment.
  2. Violence through traditional practices like female circumcision,deva dasi system,honour killing.
  3. Gender-based violence by Police,para-military forces,when under custody &combing operations
  4. Gender -based violence during Armed conflict
  5. Gender -based violence against women refugees ,asylum seekers and displaced people
  6. Violence associated with prostitution and pornagraphy including internet media.
  7. Violence in the work place ,including sexual harassment 
In this paper ,I would like to confine my self to domestic violence:

Intimate Terror:

Human Rights begin at home.The reason given most often for denial of human rights to half of world poplulation women is preservation of traditions and divine laws.Advocate for Women rights argue that governments ,while not directly responsible for private agent abuse can ,be seen condoning through inadequate prosecution of wife abuse,sexual harassment ,rape etc. and thus government is being held accountable.In her work "Battered Dreams" Roxanna Carrillo of UNIFEM describes how violence causes not only Physical but also prevents women from full participation in the development.

Indian Penal Laws relating to Domestic Violence: 
The Indian Penal Code ,1872 describes various offences perpetuated on Women,which includes Abetment to suicide [Section 306],hurt&Grievous hurt [319],Wrongful restrain &confinement [Sec 339-348],assault with intention to outrage modesty [sec 354],sexual intercourse with separated women[sec-492],deceiful causing a person to believe that she is lawfully married [Sec- 492],Bigamy[Sec-495],Fraudulent marriage  ceremony [Sec-496],cruelty by husband or his relative [Sec-498-A],Sexual intercourse by husband as marital rape in various countries ,but Indian Penal code does not have such provision except sexual intercourse with wife below 15 years &Sexual intercourse during judicial separation as punishable offence.

It is argued  that even though the Indian Penal Code do recognises offences pertaining to domestic violence,but they are not effective ,in curbing and controlling widespread abuse of wife by her husband therfore need for separate legislation is being advocated

Human Rights Activism:

"Injustice any where is athreat to justice every where,We can caught in a an inescapable network of mutuality tied in single garment of destiny ,what effects one directly affects all indirectly "[Martin Luther King Jr].Todays national leaders face dilemma on one hand they have weighty responsibility of protecting national interest and on other hand they have to honour the interntional commitment to human rights jurisprudence.No civilised nation can be indifferent to human suffering ,the morality prescribes helping those who are suffering .The universal declaration of human rights is basic international statement of the inalienable and inviolable rights of the human family and it is intended to serve as the common standard of achievement of all people and all nations.


I'm of view that any healthy discussion irrespective of national and international sphere should be encouraged and merely strengthening the legislation that handles various forms of violence will not help ,but there is a need for proactive approach towards spreading legal literacy  and education.Only education will enable to cope with the problems and there is a need to strengthen the adjudication and conciliation process to resolve friction and conflicts ,which arises in domestic sphere,well being of the nation depends upon the healthy families.     

Works cited:
  1. The Beijing Declaration and The Platform for Action;DPI-UN,NY -1996
  2. CEDAW ,G.A NO:48/104-Dec 20,1993.
  3. Indian Penal Code ,1872 -bare Act
  4. Jaon Fitzpatrich:The Use of International Human Rights norms to combat violence against   women.
  5. U.N Report on Violence Against Women in Family,UN,NY,1989
  6. Kenneth Roth:Domestic Violence as an International Human Rights Issue.
  7. Roxanna  Carrillo:Battered Dreams 

  Note :This paper was presented by M.Ravi Kumar in an International Conference on International Law in the New Millennium :Problems and Challenges Ahead,held on 4-7 October,2001 at New Delhi ,organized by Indian Society of International Law ,New Delhi.

Pl note that  :Domestic Violence Act was enacted in 2005 &notified
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