Pune's shame: District records 355 cases of domestic violence in 365 days

According to officials of the district’s Women and Child Welfare department, cases of sexual violence are on the rise, as are reports of assaults on senior citizens by their spouses

After her retirement from decades of service, 62-year-old Asha Jadhav (name changed) looked forward to a peaceful life of retirement spent with her family. However, the dream of a relaxed superannuated life was shattered when her husband started harassing her mentally. Mustering all her courage and defying the fear of social stigma, Jadhav filed a case against him under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act 2005.

Jadhav is not alone. Between January and December 2013, the Women and Child Welfare department recorded 12 cases of domestic violence filed by elderly women against their husbands. Ironically, with 355 cases of domestic violence forwarded to the magistrate under DV Act 2005 in the last year, Pune district is fourth on the infamous list of places where domestic violence frequently takes place, coming after Yavatmal (519) Mumbai suburbs (365) and Thane (363).Piling up: Files related to domestic violence cases are on the rise these days. Representation Pic

“In the last three months, there has been an alarming rise in the incidence of domestic violence among well-qualified people in Pune district. Many of the complaints come from families where husbands work as IT professionals,” said Sarika Salunke-Patil, district protection officer in the Woman and Child Welfare department.

“The definition of domestic violence has also changed. There is a difference between the cases that used to be registered earlier and the kind of cases we get these days,” added Patil. The officer explained that many of the cases she receives nowadays are related to sexual abuse of women at the hands of their husbands. “In such cases, although women approach us, they usually hesitate to speak about it.

It is then completely their choice whether they want to file a case against their husband under DV Act 2005 or register a criminal case against their spouses under the section 498 of IPC (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty),” said Advocate Jaishri Waghurde, legal advisor to the district’s Woman and Child Welfare department.

The DV Act 2005 not only protects the rights of married women, but also the rights of women who are involved in live-in relationships. “For the first time, four cases of domestic violence were recorded by women who are in live-in-relationships, and we are working hard to give them justice,” Patil said.

The Domestic Violence Act

The Act was first introduced in 2005, when the judiciary observed that Section 498 (A) of IPC was being misused. The Act gives protection, maintenance, shelter, custody of children and compensation to women.

It defines domestic violence as the habitual assault that makes the life of the aggrieved person miserable by cruelty of conduct, even if such conduct does not amount to physical ill-treatment; it also defines domestic violence as  conduct that forces the aggrieved person to lead an immoral life; or otherwise subjects her to injury and harm.

What women can do
Survivors of domestic violence  can approach the local police station, an NGO or contact the district women and child welfare department, to register a complaint. It is completely the woman’s choice whether she wants to register a complaint under DV Act 2005 or file a criminal case under Section 498 A of IPC.

Damning figures
Number of complaints on domestic violence lodged with police officers in Pune district, in 2013

Number of domestic incidents lodged with Superintendent of Police in Pune district, in 2013

Number of domestic incident reports sent direct to court, in 2013

Number of domestic incident reports forwarded to magistrate, in 2013

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