Led by the Minister for Equality of Gender, Child Development and Family Welfare, Aurore Perraud, the Protection from Domestic Violence Act will be an amendment for the fourth time since its entry in 1997. The previous amendments were made in 2004, 2007 and 2011. Now, verbal abuse will also be considered as a form of domestic violence and subsequently a crime.
The law predicts for a fine not exceeding more than Rs 50,000 in the first sentence. Condemned a second time, the culprit will have to pay a fine of up to Rs 100,000 and undergo imprisonment not exceeding two years. No fine for a third time or any subsequent conviction: the guilty will be under the influence of imprisonment for a maximum term of five years.
In the process, the penalties have increased compared to non-compliance of the orders issued by the court. For example, the breach of a protection order will be the penalties already provided for by the existing law to double compared to the first and second offense. A prison sentence is also provided in case of recurrence.
The term “spouse” has also been revised. It no longer refers only to married couples, but also to any individual who lives or not, with a person of the opposite sex and who has a child with him/her. Ditto for the term “aggrieved spouse” who became “victim”. On the other hand, the “enforcement officers” and the police will have more powers to act.
These amendments are well received at Gender Links and Men against Violence, campaigning, among others, against domestic violence. “La violence verbale fait partie du quotidien de nombreuses femmes. C’est bien que la loi soit renforcée mais est-ce que c’est le durcissement juridique qui va changer les choses? Il y a toute une éducation à faire,” says Anushka Virahsawmy, Country Manager of Gender Links. Abundant in the same direction, Bruneau Woomed, Men against Violence, argues that “en rendant les lois plus sévères, on espère décourager la violence domestique mais, en parallèle, il faudrait aussi travailler sur le changement des mentalités.”