Awareness of domestic violence act increasing: report

November 14th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) An increasing number of women are becoming aware of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) despite a number of challenges like lack of finances and delay in judgements, according to a report released here Friday.The second monitoring and evaluation report of the 2005 law showed that 1,625 cases were filed under the act between July 2007 and October 2008 in Andhra Pradesh.

Between October 2006 and July 2008, a total of 3,287 cases were filed in Kerala, 1,180 cases were filed in Tamil Nadu, and 202 cases were filed in Himachal Pradesh. Delhi saw 3,534 cases being filed under the PWDVA between October 2006 and August this year.

“Twenty-two judgements under the PWDVA have been delivered by high courts in different states, indicating that there is a greater degree of familiarity of the law amongst women and judges now.

“The Delhi High Court dismissed a constitutional challenge to the PWDVA this April on the ground that the gender specific nature of this law aims at protecting women as a class that is disproportionately vulnerable to violence,” Indira Jaisingh, director of the Lawyers Collective that brought out the report, said.

Highlighting some of the challenges that pose as road blocks to the smooth implementation of the law, Jaisingh said that protection officers, who are the linkages between the woman and the court, have been appointed at the district level in most of the states, only 10 states have appointed them at the sub-district level - a necessary step required to ensure that maximum women can take help of the law.

The report, called “Staying Alive”, said that in many cases protection officers have taken the initiative of interacting with aggrieved women, counselling and documenting the violence in navigating the justice system - therefore their presence is necessary to proper implementation of the PWDVA.

“Inadequate budgetary allocation is another challenge. Only 13 states, which include Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, have allocated specific budgets for the implementation of the PWDVA. Of these, Andhra Pradesh has allocated the highest amount of Rs.100 million,” Jaisingh said.

Girija Vyas of the National Commission of Women (NCW) said that delay in the judicial process also acts as a dampener to the spirit of the law.

“Ideally justice should be delivered to the victim with three months but in many places, including the role model state Andhra Pradesh, cases drag on for more than six months,” Vyas told IANS.

To complaints filed by a small section of men saying that the PWDVA is sometimes being misused, Vyas said: “One has to understand that these are a very small number of cases and that an overwhelming majority of women are genuinely benefitting from the law”.

The report recommended that the central government should protect women’s rights in the workplace by enacting legislation on preventing sexual harassment at workplaces.

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