Anachronistic or Innovative: Examining the ‘right to reside’ in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA) in India.

Stream: Legal and Policy Responses to Violence against Women
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 3.15 pm – 5.00 pm


The PWDVA is the first law to provide a definition of domestic violence in India and guarantees a ‘right to reside’ to all victims of domestic violence. For married women, this right implies a right to reside with the abuser. This provision accords a dubious status to the law and a cursory reading of the ‘right to reside’ appears anachronistic. This paper will critically examine the ‘right to reside’ through the concept of ‘domestic violence’, ‘shared household’ and ‘residence order’ under the PWDVA against the backdrop of marital entitlements of Hindu married women. Drawing on the relevant provisions of the Act and the interpretation of the key concepts by the higher judiciary, this paper will canvass the complicated terrain of PWDVA where the law becomes anachronistic and innovative in its provisions and implementation. The paper will draw on socio-legal research to argue that the study of PWDVA is a ‘subversive site’ where the concept of the ‘right to reside’ must be understood in the broader context of gender inequality within the realm of marital entitlements and the absence of quality social welfare services where exiting an abusive household is not a feasible or viable measure of protection from domestic violence.


Amrita Mukhopadhyay (Presenter), University of Western Sydney
Amrita Mukhopadhyay is a PhD student at the University of Western Sydney. Her thesis is on domestic violence in India and examines the legal and social regulation of domestic violence within a business community in India.