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Project on PWDV ACT

Introduction

Society expects women to conform to set parameters of behaviour, which are mostly founded on patriarchal mindset. These norms invariably deny women status of an independent human being. These norms or rules are deeply ingrained in societal fabric and ensure that gender discrimination remains well maintained. Very often violence is an outcome of unequal power equations; the powerful inflict violence upon the less powerful. Thus Violence is inflicted not only upon a woman as wife, but also as daughter, sister, mother and partner  – violence imposed by husband, father, brother, son and male partner.

Contrary to the societal belief, violence against women cuts across all sections and occurs among all classes, castes, races and religions. The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) registers a case of cruelty by husbands and relatives, every nine minutes. In India

  • In every twenty-five minutes a molestation takes place;
  • In every twenty nine minutes a rape takes place;
  • In every fifty three minutes a sexual harassment case is registered;
  • In every seventy seven minutes a dowry death happens;

(Indian National Crime Record Bureau ‘Unique Crime Block 2005’ record)

A number of studies, highlighting high incidence of domestic violence and expressing concerns over societal indifference, are available. Maharashtra ranks second among various states in the country, which have highest number of cases of violence inflicted upon women. The concept of violence against women before marriage, i.e. in maternal family does not exist at all. Although domestic violence is a widespread phenomenon, women prefer to put up with it and suffer in silence. Thus, discrimination and violence are closely linked and mutually reinforcing devices to keep women in their ‘place’. Hence this is not an individual or family problem but a serious social problem.

The Constitution of India guarantees equality to women. India upholds Human Rights Declaration, which are founded on personhood, dignity, autonomy and freedom of human beings. Therefore, campaigns around law reform have remained a central feature of women’s movement. After long years of struggle women movement brought the ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005’.

On September 13, 2005, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Act) was passed. The Act came into force from 26th October 2006. The Act recognized the right of women to live in violence-free homes and provides legal remedies if this right is violated. This is a civil law aimed at providing immediate support to women facing domestic violence. It includes a comprehensive definition of ‘domestic violence’ and covers any kind of “domestic” relationship, including dating relationships, regardless of duration, expands its coverage to include any woman subjected to domestic violence and ensure that the woman’s right to safety and security are being upheld. It sets out, in clear terms, the duties of the protection officers, police, the service providers and the state in ensuring speedy justice to the applicants. The Act is meant to deal with emergencies and aggrieved woman can also take recourse under any other law be it divorce, custody, maintenance, all options are open to her in addition to this law.

Project on Domestic Violence

This Act brings hope to several thousands of women subjected to domestic violence as it ensures both protection and provides for other remedies. However, a coordinated effort of all actors responsible for implementation of this Act is essential.

The ‘Women and Law Centre’ of the ILS Law College has undertaken a project on “Effective Implementation of the PWDVAct”. The object is to disseminate information to the personnel of various implementation agencies notified under the Act and to sensitize them. To achieve this objective we are focusing on training, networking and advocacy. To achieve these objectives Pradnya Shende is working as a Programme Officer under Vice Principal and Centre Coordinator Dr. Jaya Sagade. In the year 2008-09 various programmes were undertaken by the centre with the support of like-minded organizations. In this year, the programmes organized by the centre and initiatives undertaken are as follows.

Training

Domestic violence is a serious issue and the Act provides a way for the victims to seek relief. The ACT is two years old. It is readily acknowledged that implementation has been slow. Implementing machinery is ill prepared to handle their job. Eventually with awareness more and more number of women would want to use ACT. And if the system remains equally lax, then it would badly reflect on them as well as on the spirit of the law. We expect implementing mechanism to change and strengthen for effective functioning. Hence to create awareness we arranged Training of Trainers (TOT) and Training of Facilitator (TOF) programmes with NGOs, Service Providers and Protection Officers of the State of Maharashtra.

Through this training programme this year we reached out to more than 500 people.

Date Participants Method Participants
10th May 2008 Protection Officers + NGOs + Police Officers Training Above 300
19th july 2008 Protection Officers TOF 65
25th & 26th August 2008 NGOs TOT 39
13th to 15th October 2008 Swiss Aid Partner Organizations TOF 40

These training programmes were to help the Protection officers to understand their role and responsibility under this Act. While performing their roles, if they find problems they immediately seek help from the Centre. Dr. Jaya Sagade, gave training to Women and Child Department personnel. As a resource person, she facilitated the entire training programme, which was arranged by WCDD office. She is one of the key persons in Pune, who works on ACT for effective implementation of same Act. The Centre is functioning as a Resource Centre for NGOs and Protection Officers.

We have conducted several training programmes with the NGOs who are working on this issue. After going through the training programme, some of the NGOs have applied and registered themselves as Service Providers, under this Act. e.g. ASHA, Pune; Nari Samata Manch, Pune; Lokvikas Samajik Santha, Nashik; SavitreeBai Phule Bahudeshiya Kendra, Beed.

Most of these organizations are working for women issues at grass root level. Some of them registered themselves for providing counselling facility, to create awareness and legal service. We also formulated region wise NGOs forum to pressurize the Women and Child Department for putting the system in place and to take follow up of their policy and decisions. Women and Child Department is the nodal agency responsible for implementation of the Act in Maharashtra.

Networking

To raise the issues of the implementation of the law and to put pressure on the state government for effective implementation of the act we have networked with like-minded organizations at the district, state and national levels.

Network Name Issues Based on
Stree Muktee Sampark Samitee, Pune Effective implementation of Act 2005
Pressure group member – 498 A compoundable
Asmita Manch, Effective implementation of Act 2005
Aman network Representative of the State of Maharashtra for policy making and strategy planning on Act 2005

 

Every year Asmita Manch (Pune city network of women’s organization) celebrates a fortnight programme. This year they focused on effective implementation of Act 2005. During this fortnight CFAR, Pune (Centre for Advocacy and Research) organized Jansunwai programme. The objective of this programme was to depict the present status of implementation in the city and systems working after two years of implementation of this Act in front of panel of various stakeholders. To strengthen the implementing mechanism on behalf of SMSS and Asmita Manch network, Dr. Jaya Sagade put forth the demands which are as follows: –

  • The government should take all required efforts to ensure effective implementation of the Act.
  • Appoint independent Protection Officers with adequate infrastructure support to them.
  • Organize gender sensitization training for POs, SPs (medical, counselling, legal literacy etc), Judiciary and Police.
  • Notify the public health systems as a medical facility service provider under the Act.
  • Violence against women should be viewed as a violation of their Human Rights. In order to protect the HR of women adequate budget provision.
  • Act should be included in all educational curriculums.

Center used Jansunwai as a platform to advocate the demands of the networking organizations, further to the higher authorities.
Aman network is working at the National level on matters of policy on women issues. In Ahmadabad the State of Maharashtra representative presented the work and efforts, which were taken by us. In this meeting, network partners emphasized and admired the work of Women and Law Centre, which it is doing not only in Pune but also in entire Maharashtra.

Advocacy

The centre have been advocating for the effective implementation of the Act and also for following up on policy matters through various programme.

Date Platform Total Participants
26th November 2008 ILS ‘Women and Law Centre’ Pune, National Center for Advocacy Studies(NCAS), Pune, and Centre for Social Research, New Delhi coordinated the programme –Regional consultation (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa) on PWDVA implementation 110
15th, 16th December 2008 Yuva, Mumbai -State level consultation 35
5th December 2008 Cfar and Asmita Mach, Pune were conducted the programme 250
8th December 2008 Open Space – Dialogue with Judiciary – Pune district Court 23
On going process Women and Child Development Department, Pune

 

Dialogue with Judiciary – Pune district Court

On going process
Wand Child Development Department, Pune

This year we were more focused on advocating various issues for effective implementation of this Act. We had Regional Consultation programme in association with NCAS.

It was a state level, regional consultation programme. In this programme representatives of Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra were present. The representatives of respective states presented the current implementation situation of the Act. ILS Law College Principal Vaijayanti Joshi gave her inaugurating speech and Dr. Jaya Sagade chaired a panel discussion of State of Maharashtra. This Regional Consultation helped to understand and analyse the situation in these three states. The discussions threw light on the problems which the service providers, NGOs and aggrieved persons are facing, due to weakness of system or mechanism and implementing machinery’s apathy towards their role and responsibilities. Through this programme, every state shared their concerns and demands towards effective implementation of this Act. This programme was also importance because for the first time the stakeholders gathered on a common platform and got the opportunity to have a one to one dialogue with participants. This programme was also to make them answerable. Director of Majlis organization and chairperson of regional consultation Adv. Flavia Agnes thanked the programme coordinators for organizing fabulous discussions and sharing. The regional consultation focused and highlighted the point that the implementation of this Act has been slow.

Yuva, Mumbai also organized a State Regional Consultation, where Ms. Pradnya Shende participated in the three-day programme. The objective of the consultation was to share the experiences of various women’s organization, networks and social action groups working on the issue of violence against women and to formulate strategies in order to address the issue of violence against women.

In this consultation, there was a comprehensive discussion on Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code and Tanta Mukt Gaon Yojna. After three days of discussions, it was concluded that for the enactment of the Act 2005, a need for its effective implementation is imperative. At the same time we are confronted by the threat of modifications in the Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, which will make 498 toothless. Even as incidents of violence are on the rise, the government is proposing litigation free villages under the Tanta Mukt Gaon Yojna, which endangers the rights of women to seek redress. Hence to get together and arrive at a strategy to prevent the weakening of laws which are results of sustained and concerted campaigns by women’s groups to address the growing violence on women.

Therefore, as a strategy and output of the consultation a core team of group members, who work on these two issues, was formed. One of the groups is working with WCDD Department and other is on Tanta Mukt Gaon Yojna. Women and Law Centre of ILS Law College is a part of core team. This team will work with WCDD office, Pune. This team will have meeting with this department for follow up the policy level matters and training programme for Family Counselling Centre, Judiciary and other key stakeholders who are appointed or working machinery under this Act.

Dialogue with Judiciary and WCDD

Dr. Jaya Sagade got an opportunity to have dialogue with the judges from the Pune District. She shared the concerns and expectations of applicants, protection officers, and lawyers with judiciary under this Act.

The state government has made no provision of funds to fulfil all these various responsibilities set by the law. Lack of proper funds is a major impediment for putting in place proper machinery to ensure effective implementation of the Act. Hence to sensitize the system we have continuous dialogue with Women and Child Development Department. We put our agenda through Stree Muktee Sampark Samitee, which is state level network of women organizations. Prasanna Inwali (NCAS) and Archana More (MASUM) are with us. They not only give us the support but also enchant the advocacy process in Pune as well as at district level. We are demanding that the WCDD should take up training programmes for Counsellors, Service Providers, and give publicity to this Act, appointment of independent Protection Officers and special budget for implementation of this Act. These demands are on our present agenda.

Advocacy and training is the central core programme of the Women and Law Centre. We are more concentrating on this agenda to sensitize the machinery and put pressure on the government to implement the Act effectively.

Documentation and Resource Material

Literature pertaining to this Act is not easily available in Marathi. Therefore, we have prepared training manuals for Protection Officers and NGOs in Marathi; e.g. the Protection Officers role and responsibility, Service providers and Counsellors role within the Act. We are also assembling the bibliography, newspaper cuttings. These resources not only help us but also the organizations that are working on this issue. We are collecting IEC means Information, Education and Communication material, which is prepared by other organizations. We can use this as a resource material and also for training. This process will defiantly help us to develop into as a Resource Centre.

Mapping and Research Study

To identify the available resources for women who are victims of domestic violence; we are mapping NGOs, Service Provider, Law Colleges and MSW colleges in the State of Maharashtra. After mapping, we would put the demands on WCDD for appointment of Service Providers under this Act. We would also prepare programmes with colleges who are keenly interested to work on this issue.
Through investigative studies we are going to present the current situation of the implementation of the Act as well as our expectations. This study report will become a tool or source of information about what is the situation of the Act after two years. This would also help the stakeholders and policy makers to shift their strategy.

Conclusion

Some of the programmes are in the pipeline. In March and April we have training with Police personnel and Family Counselling Centers – Counselors. Within four to five months we will come out with study report and some training manual. Act 2005 is not only a law to get order but also a tool for women to get their human rights realized.