Written by Rukmini Sen

Domestic Violence is the crime of physical and sexual abuse perpetrated against one family member by another family member. It is a broad term encompassing spouse abuse, child abuse, sibling abuse and an abuse of a parent by a child, abuse of an elderly or handicapped family member. It is an area that has usually been left out of the ambit of public discussion, because the familial space is considered sacred. The UN has only a declaration against violence, which itself makes the issue seem less important.

It could be theoretically debated whether gender discrimination leads to gender based violence or the reverse. The UN Declaration on Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) is a seminal text, because most of the South Asian countries which have in the decade of 2000 enacted or are in the process of enacting laws on domestic violence are influenced by the definition of domestic violence in DEVAW. The definition in DEVAW includes physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.

Domestic violence as a legal term comes within the legal discourse in the South Asian countries only in the 2000s after a decade of women