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06-Nov-2023-Editorial

November 7, 2023 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

CAN A TRANS WOMAN INVOKE THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT?

The issue of whether a transgender woman, post a sex reassignment surgery, can be considered an ‘aggrieved person’ under Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, is set to be examined by the Supreme Court. The case involves a transgender individual seeking interim maintenance under the Act after her marriage ended due to differences.

‘Aggrieved Person’ in the Domestic Violence Act

Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines an ‘aggrieved person’ as a woman in a domestic relationship with the respondent, subjected to domestic violence.

The Act aimed to protect women’s rights and provides for monetary relief to meet expenses resulting from domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Act 2005

The Act primarily aims to safeguard wives, female live-in partners, and extends its protections to sisters, widows, mothers, and single women from violence inflicted by their husbands or male live-in partners, and their relatives. It encompasses various forms of abuse, such as physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and economic, as well as harassment via unlawful dowry demands.

          

Key Elements:

Scope of Protection:

The Act covers women who have lived with the abuser in a shared household, either through marriage, adoption, or in a relationship similar to marriage, and includes those within joint families.

It also extends protection to sisters, widows, mothers, and single women cohabiting with the abuser.

Right to Reside:

It secures a woman’s right to stay in the shared household, irrespective of her ownership rights.

Residence orders, issued by a court, protect this right exclusively for women.

Preventive Measures:

The Act empowers courts to issue protection orders to prevent the abuser from committing further violence, contacting, or entering areas frequented by the abused, or isolating shared assets.

It includes measures to safeguard the abused and assisting relatives or individuals providing support.

Support Mechanism:

Designated Protection Officers and NGOs offer assistance to women for medical examinations, legal aid, and shelter.

The Act establishes non-compliance with protection orders as a punishable, cognizable, and non-bailable offense, aiming to ensure the safety of victims and enforce the protection measures.

Case Overview:

A trans woman, who underwent sex reassignment surgery in 2016, appealed for interim maintenance under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act, contending her conversion from transgender to female made her eligible as an “aggrieved person” under the Act, thus seeking maintenance.

Process for Gender Change:

The 2019 Act enables the recognition of transgender identity, allowing individuals the right to be recognized as transgender, following self-perceived gender identity norms.

Transgender persons can apply for a certificate of identity through the District Magistrate, accompanied by specified documents.

Section 7 outlines a procedure for gender change after surgery. A trans person can request a “revised certificate” by submitting surgery certificates to alter their birth certificate and other official documents.

Bombay High Court’s Ruling:

While “domestic relationship” in the DV Act is defined in gender-neutral terms, the term “woman” defines an “aggrieved person” in Section 2(a).

The court adopted a comprehensive approach, emphasizing that if sex reassignment adheres to medical ethics without legal constraints, recognizing gender identity should have no impediments.

It stressed interpreting the term “aggrieved person” with broad and inclusive dimensions to include individuals based on reassigned gender following sex reassignment surgery.

Domestic Incident Report (DIR):

Initiated upon receiving a complaint of domestic violence, the Protection Officer or Service Provider creates a DIR per the provisions in the Domestic Violence Act, submitting it to the Magistrate.

Critiques of the Act:

Civil in Nature: Criminal implications arise only when domestic violence accompanies other offenses, such as disobeying court protection orders.

Role of Protection Officer: Criticized for inadequate implementation, often performed by individuals working part-time or possessing inadequate qualifications for the role.

Non-Gender Neutral: Seen as biased, assuming men as the sole perpetrators of domestic violence, thus violating constitutional articles and discriminating against men.

Wide Definition: Criticized for an excessively broad definition, potentially enabling misuse by allowing baseless complaints against men.

Conclusion:

The Protection from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 encompasses a comprehensive set of provisions to protect women from various forms of abuse, ensuring legal rights to reside in shared households and offering preventive measures against further violence. The Act emphasizes a support structure through Protection Officers and NGOs, along with stringent penalties for non-compliance, aiming to secure the safety and protection of women affected by domestic violence.

Details

Date:
November 7, 2023
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: