Domestic Violence Act in India not backed up
Three years into its enactment, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is hampered by limited awareness and inadequate budgets.
Women’s groups at the recently held national consultation on the Act regretted “the lack of commitment on the government’s part to effectively implement it”. Crucial factors that aid the implementation of the Act – appointment of protection officers (POs) and counsellors; training of police and judicial officers and awareness generation and publicity – have been neglected, the meet found.
Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR), said: “This is a pathbreaking civil law but it needs support systems in place to deliver justice to the victims of domestic violence. (The lack of these owes to) the callousness of the authorities towards women, the lack of initiative to spread awareness about the Act and the lack of adequate budgetary allocation.” Only 14 states have separate budgetary allocations for the Act. Most states are yet to appoint POs, who are often the first ‘ points of contact’ for victims of domestic violence.
The CSR, during countrywide consultations, found that even when POs were appointed, they were at times unaware of their duties or the legal remedies available to the victims.
Another drawback is the lack of publicity. The CSR found that people were aware only of the dowry law and didn’t understand the significance of this Act. Even emergency helpline numbers for victims haven’t been publicised effectively.
Praveen K. Bharti of NGO Ummang said: ” This is one of the most progressive laws as it covers all domestic relationships of women…but women are scared and reluctant to speak out and the law does little to embolden or empower them.”