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Orientation of judges, counsellors vital to domestic violence bill

Written by: Staff

Jaipur, Oct 26: Women rights activists in Rajasthan hailed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, which they say will go a long way in protecting women from violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives.

However, they feel that for effective implementation of the new law it was necessary to provide orientation programmes to the judges/magistrates dealing with such cases in the spirit of the the new Act and appoint counsellors/service providers to help the victim in seeking justice.

''The immediate need is to notify magistrates and appoint service providers/counsellors zonewise who will act as guides for the victims and also for the judges. Otherwise it may remain only on paper just like the 1960's Dowry Prohibition Act, where even after 46 years not a single appointment of Dowry Protection Officers have been made.'' Kavita Srivastav of PUCL told UNI.

''It is also important to work out a orientation programme in the spirit of the law for the judges, magistrates and public prosecutors who will hear the cases,'' she added.

Kavita said the provision of right to residence will help victims to come out in the open and seek justice for themselves.

''This provision (right to residence) will definitely increase a victim's confidence level, helping her to stand up against injustice.'' Pawan Surana, an activist and former chairperson of Rajasthan State Women Commission said, ''The minimal formalities involved makes the Act really effective. The first hearing has to be done within three days of the case being lodged.'' But, there are others who were concerned over the male members of the family being presumed as the principal perpertrators of violence on women.

''The Act is not strong enough as the whole focus is on the male members of the family, emphasising men are the main perpetrators of violence. But in reality, whole families are involved in such crimes, including the mother-in-laws, sister-in-laws and sometimes the girl's maternal family as well,'' Vijay Lakshmi of Action Aid, said.

Komal Srivastav, associated with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, said the Act is unique as it includes all forms of violence or abuse of women. But most of them were of the view that there was a need to make people aware of new law to make it really work. Asha, a legal expert, who has been working among the rural masses for creating awareness about the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act in Dholpur and Morena in Madhya Pradesh, said, ''There is a need to set up awareness committees which will make the common women aware about their rights. The language of the Act has to be simple and more public friendly, so that they should know where and whom to approach in case of trouble. The PNDT Act which came into force in 1993-94 is still not understood well even in 2006 due to lack of awareness.'' ''As a legal expert, I have to understand the intricacies of the Act myself and then only can I make the rural people more aware about it. The government machinery has to roll in this case.'' Asha Kalra, chairperson, Rajasthan chapter of All India State Employees Federation, said, ''The Act is a step forward in providing relief to women but it is not up to our expectations.''


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