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Economic Abuse Under Domestic Violence Act

By Gopika G Nair
(School Of Legal Studies CUSAT)

Domestic violence against women is not uncommon in Indian society. It affects a large number of women, and the majority of them are so used to it that they don’t even report it. Nonetheless, many people continue to be victims of domestic abuse. Domestic violence is a strategy of instilling fear and servility in a person in a domestic setting, such as a household. The motivation for this violence can range from the need to maintain an individual’s power structure over another to the desire to instill/coerce another for self-gratification. Domestic violence in India primarily refers to violence by close or biological relatives to a person; however, it mainly includes abuse perpetrated against women by male family members or cousins. Domestic violence has been defined by the Protection of women from domestic violence act 2005. Before the act, the cases governing the act were dealt with by section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. According to the Domestic violence act, domestic violence means harming or harassing women in her household. The types of economic abuse can be of different forms like physical, verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.

Domestic violence is more than physical or psychological abuse. On a deeper level, it’s about how abusers often want to take complete control over their partners. Economic or financial abuse is an effective way to get control over somebody. If you are not an earning member of your family you don’t have any money or you owe lots of money that makes limits to your options and makes it more likely to do what your partner wants. Economic abuse can occur when the abuser wants to dictate or dominate. In terms of money, the abuser restricts the victim from using their financial resources and isolates her financially so that she is bound to rely upon the abuser for her survival Section 3 of the Domestic violence act 2005, describes the economic abuse.

Economic abuse is everywhere and it can hurt. People who have experienced economic abuse can end up owing thousands or even lakhs of rupees in debt and it can hurt the credit rating. And these days good credit can be important for getting good jobs and housing not just for getting loans. So financial abuse at times can become emotional abuse.

Economic abuse may take many forms:

  1. Coerced debt – This can happen when the credit abuser puts on non-consensual. This may include forcing the victim to sign financial documents, forcing the victim to get loans, use of physical force to make  credit-related transactions, refinancing a car mortgage or any property without the victim’s knowledge, applying for loans, credit cards, etc.,  in the name of the victim, etc., 
  2. Employment-related abuse – This can happen when the abuser prevents the victim from earning money. This may include situations like preventing the victim from attending the job, asking the victim to quit the job that she was doing, harassing the victim at work, preventing her from looking for jobs, etc.,
  3. Other forms of economic abuse can include the abuser preventing the victim from using certain funds like, using the victim’s ATM cards without her knowledge and preventing her from using the same, deciding how the victim must use the money in her account, etc.,

There are a lot of reasons why economic abuse occurs in India. These can be social, historical, behavioral aspects of the human being. There is no single reason for this abuse it’s a combination of all these aspects.

  • Patriarchy’s inherent wickedness and the male superiority attitude that has persisted for millennia can be traced back to many events n the history
  •  Religious divinity implies a covert, if not outright, dominion over women. As a result of this, domestic, economic violence against women has increased.
  • Dowry is a socio-cultural element. Nowadays there is an increase in the number of dowry-related domestic cases and dowry deaths being reported as a result of which it is given special provisions in the domestic violence act. This system of dowry shows that women can be brought by money as any other object in the market and it is this money that determines her value in society.
  • Economic abuse is also exacerbated by the failure to fulfill conjugal responsibilities as a result of extramarital affairs or a lack of trust. Many sociological, behavioral attitudes of the abuser due to stress or overdose of drugs, etc. can also be the reason for such trust issues which ultimately results in economic abuse
  • Lack of knowledge and a regressive mind can also result in economic abuse. The trashes of patriarchal practices still exist in the mind of many which make him feel that a man is to look after the house, women being his shadow. This triggers him to cause economic abuse.

Any woman who has been harmed or who has seen domestic violence can seek help from a police station, a protection officer, or a service provider under the Domestic Violence Act. To implement its instructions, the court may appoint a protection officer.  The protection officer is a unique position intended to serve as a link between domestic violence victims and the system.  Domestic Violence Act relief orders can also be obtained by filing a complaint directly with the magistrate. Anyone who informs the appropriate authorities about a crime has their civil and criminal liabilities waived. Within three days of filing the complaint, the court must schedule a hearing. If the court determines that the allegation is true, a protection order is issued . A complaint can also be made under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, which recognizes and punishes matrimonial cruelty. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, which went into effect in October 2006, is a promising piece of legislation that combines civil and criminal punishments to provide effective remedies to domestic violence victims. The statute establishes protection officers, medical facilities, and no-fee orders, among other things, to assist aggrieved women in safeguarding themselves and their families. In India, the majority of economic abuse, sexual violence, and marital rape instances go unreported. Domestic abuse victims’ agony is exacerbated by a lack of professional counselors who can assist them, as well as limited access to legal aid. Issues like this must be resolved for women to receive the justice they deserve. Abuse thrives only in silence. By merely casting a light on the economic abuse, we can put an end to it. Sharing your experience with your loved ones can help you get out of the dark hole. Replace them as the heroes of the drama and give them the courage and plot to make a climax twist, portraying them as phoenix birds who rise from the ashes and have a bright future ahead. Understand the symptoms of economic abuse and act cautiously and quickly to deescalate the abuse. We can all work together to make our beds, dinner tables, and families the secure and pleasant havens they should be!

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