Battered Woman Syndrome and Law

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BY HARSHITA SAINI

INTRODUCTION –

Battered women syndrome (BWS), is a pattern of symptoms shown by a woman who is either physically, mentally or sexually harmed in an intimate relationship usually with a male partner. It can be considered as a sub part of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In legal defences it has been occasionally applied to men in the category of Battered person syndrome. In legal cases the condition as a defence can be used in cases of abused women who took the live of their male partner. Some evident symptoms of BWS exhibits as the abused fears for their lives, body image disorder, sexual intimacy issues, daily activities are disrupted and many more. This syndrome is both physically and mentally challenging for the abused. The crippling fear seems totally real to the woman. Unceasing domestic violence drastically increases the chances of battered women syndrome and depression. Domestic violence acts can lead to major emotional and physical scars.

In the era of a patriarchal society woman find it very difficult to leave an abusive marriage. For a prolonged period of time it is believed that females are responsible for holding a household together. From a very young age the ideology of male superiority is installed in the minds of girls.Women have to bear the burns of this violence and it affects her status in the society. It is traditionally held that the female members of the society are sensitive and should be looked over by a male member in the family. Woman subordination is a norm. Certain restrictions are implied on the woman in a household in addition with putting mental and physical strain on the woman. Domestic violence is not a new occurrence. The increase in the statistics of crimes against women is horrifying. Women are subjected to child marriage, sexual abuse of girl child, infanticide, rape, medical neglect, bride burning, sexual harassment, prostitution and many more. In most of the cases these demeaning and resentful acts take place within closed curtains. According to United Nation Population Fund Report two-third of married women in India are victims of domestic violence.

BATTERED WOMAN- THE CLAIM OF SELF DEFENCE

Battered women syndrome turned up as a legal defence in the 1990’s. woman who kill their abusers can claim that they did the act in self-defence. Self-defence is considered as a just cause by the law. It is treated as the right course of action under the conditions. This means that the Indian legal system does not consider a battered woman blameworthy. The women’s actions should meet the guidelines for self defence according to the state where the killing has taken place. There are four general requirements for the same. Firstly, the woman should have believed that her life was in imminent danger. Secondly, she should have used a reasonable amount of force to respond to that imminent danger. Third, there was no other way to get out of the harm and forth the woman should not be the aggressor in the situation. The woman should use reasonable force to protect herself from the danger. When a battered woman kills her husband there is usually a long pattern of violence and abuse that she is has sustained. In many cases the women kill their husbands without any imminent danger because she had undergone a continuous chain of violence and she cannot take anymore. For example, the woman may kill her husband while he is sleeping or when he is least expecting it. This raises the question that why did the woman did not leave that abusive relationship before. They state that these actions can be explained by cerebral or psychosomatic causes involved in violent relationships. These dynamics or causes can be brought up in the trial generally by the testimony of an expert. Another issue that can take place while arguing for the right to self defence for the battered women is that in many cases the woman has to resort to using a deadly weapon to safeguard her life. In this case the jurors take into consideration that if the women were having concerns about living in that abusive relationship why did she not leave the relationship before. Members of the jury’s convictions about cosy accomplice savagery and the absence of fit between the lady’s activities and the current laws of self-protection can make it hard for the guard to set up that the lady’s conduct in executing her victimizer was sensible.

BATTERED WOMEN – THE DEFENCE OF INSANITY

In some of the cases where a battered woman kills her husband pleads with the defence of insanity. They state that their mental stability is impaired due to the continuous cycle of torment and torture that is faced by them either on a daily basis or very frequently. It is treated as a defence of excuse which means that the women do not deny the fact that a crime has been committed but states that she is not responsible for it. This defence requires that the defendant has a significant mental illness during the commitment of the crime.it requires that the defendant’s mental illness impaired her sensibility to such an extent that she did not understand the gravity of the crime and its consequences. The defence of insanity is a very narrow defence.  

BATTERED WOMEN SYNDROME IN INDIA –

In view of Victorian philosophy and presented by the provincial rulers, the criminal equity framework in India is patriarchal and restate gender typecasts. Even though section 100 states the relief of self-defence. It hardly gets picked up in the courts. In these situations, the self defence mechanism is hardly used by the women because of social and cultural causes that foster the long-standing institution of patriarchal India. Women in these patriarchal societies are taught to be docile, obedient and not raise a voice against violence.Indeed, pitilessness against wedded lady or aggressive behaviour at home was not treated as a wrongdoing till the time Criminal law Second Amendment Act was instituted in 1983 and Section 498A was added with the Indian Penal Code as a cognizable, non bailable wrongdoing alongside Section 304B which makes endowment demise a culpable offense.These amendments came to effect because of the increase in cases of dowry death in newly wed brides. It is seen throughout the centuries that dowry death or crimes against women are taken as a lesser crime. It is side lined and ignored very often. Additionally, it often takes place that the provisions to protect the women are used as weapons rather than as a protective shield. In Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar it was held that as section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code is a cognisable and non bailable offence many displeased women use this section as a weapon to jail her husband and in laws. It becomes one of the easiest ways to harass the husband and in laws. Therefore, the court gave guidelines to prevent any unnecessary detentions and arrests.

In 2005 another law regarding the protection of women was enacted THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLANCE ACT

This act gives civil remedies to the woman who has faced domestic violence by the hands of their husbands and in laws. This act provides for protection of rights of women which are guaranteed to the women. It grants statutory protection to the victims of violence. These laws sometimes fail to consider the actual conditions these women live in.  sometimes the mental torture does not end with the husband and the in laws, it is also asserted by the society. The police, judiciary sometimes fails to understand the societal and cultural cruelty and mental harassment faced by a divorced woman. In some areas divorce is still considered as a taboo and divorced woman impure. 

CONCLUSION –

Battered women syndrome as a guard in instances of spousal crime has acquired wide acknowledgment however stays a dubious issue. Battered ladies who guarantee self-preservation are bound to be effective in utilizing Battered women syndrome to prove their cases in circumstances of face-to-face encounter with the batterer. In different circumstances, members of the jury are bound to scrutinize the case of self-protection. Battered ladies who kill their accomplices are less inclined to utilize the guard of craziness since they should demonstrate that they didn’t have the foggiest idea what they were doing at that point or that what they were doing wasn’t right.Spousal killing isn’t predominant in India however spouse beating is a typical marvel. The social, strict and primary factors all train and prepare ladies to endure the mercilessness quietly.Indian ladies’ refusal to seethe is viewed as “socially ingrained reaction and a side effect of disguised subjection. In some cases, battered women syndrome comes into effect after the women’s suicide. in these cases, the battered women syndrome is not used as a protection to the women but to hold the husband and in laws guilty. In a suicide case the husband can also be held guilty for abetting suicide. The law in India needs to recognise this psychological aspect to domestic violence. The identification of battered women syndrome also includes the recognition of the psychological effect of the battering alongside the physical effects. the need is to consider the circumstance of the battered lady in a male centric culture that should be changed. The women should not be labelled as bad or their reputation should not be maligned just on the basis of her divorce to her abusive husband. The society should have a positive and welcoming behaviour towards women who are already faced by the many challenges

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