Wife-beaters & law

Published : Sep 24, 2010 00:00 IST

The book analyses the evolving principles of international law on the subject, the legislative steps and the role of the police and the judiciary.

THIS erudite work breaks an altogether new ground. It covers both the legal and the political debate on the state's responsibility under not merely its own Constitution but also international law to protect its citizens from some extreme forms of what Dr Bonita Meyersfeld calls systematic intimate violence. No other work has dealt with the subject as comprehensively as this.

Since the matter is covered by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW (1981), an international treaty, it has ceased to be an exclusively domestic affair. This is quite apart from the state's duties under international law. Work of the committee set up under the convention is covered fully. Case law ranges widely, from international and regional to British, American, South African and Polish and a ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2002 that was in a case brought by the Forum for Women, Law and Development.

Domestic violence is at once a violation of human rights and of international law apart from the CEDAW. But it is not for every form of wife-beating that the state is responsible in international law. It is responsible in international law for protecting women against extreme and systematic forms of physical, and non-physical, cumulative violence, something systematic and egregious. In 2007, India sent the first ever all-female unit of the Central Reserve Police Force to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Liberia. It was as unprecedented as it was effective. More than 90 per cent of women in Liberia have survived some form of sexual violence. The unit was a manifestation of the empowerment of women. The author notes that India has a Protection from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which it is obligated to publicise regularly through television, radio and print media. The book analyses the evolving principles of international law on the subject, the legislative steps, international and domestic, and the role of the police and of the judiciary.

In 1980, the former Human Rights Commission set up a Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. It has assisted families of individuals who have disappeared, women being the worst sufferers. It has received complaints, studied them and clarified cases. India is among the countries from which it received complaints. The book deserves a wide readership in India.

Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment