Preventing Domestic Violence

Implement stringent laws to protect women

GENDER

UZMA ASHRAF

Whenever individuals find themselves in the whirlpool of inequalities, State comes to their rescue, mostly by way of legislation. Gender inequality, with its strong historical lineage, remained a matter of great concern with the advent of civilisation. Like any other society, Indian Society is also a male-dominated society in which females are mostly reared as a commodity. Domestic violence in a society like this remains unnoticed, predominantly because of societal pressure and insecurity among females. In order to curb such a gross human right violation and to protect women from the wide spread domestic violence, India passed PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005. The said act came with an object to ‘provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto’.
Nearly after about five years of the passage of the said  Act , the Government of Jammu & Kashmir felt its responsibility and passed Jammu and Kashmir   Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2010 (hereinafter The Act), albeit  the replica of   the central legislation. The provisions of this Act are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force i.e. an aggrieved person (women) can avail remedy under this Act, without losing right /remedy under any other statute /legislation.
The word ‘domestic violence’ in its wider ambit includes inter alia physical, sexual, verbal and emotional and economic abuse. Even under the umbrella of its protection, the Act not only protects relationships that are the outcome of marriage, adoption or consanguinity but also takes care of relationships under the joint families. The Act also provides for the appointment of protection officers in each district who shall as far as possible be a women. The duties and functions of the protection officer inter alia are to assist the Magistrate in discharge of his functions under the Act, to make Domestic Incident Report (DIR), to ensure legal aid for the aggrieved female, to get the aggrieved female medically examined in case of her sustained medical injuries etc.
Role of societies and NGOs is also recognised as ‘service providers’ under this Act, and such service providers under this Act shall have the power to make the record of DIR, to get the aggrieved female medically examined and to ensure shelter for aggrieved person. The Judicial Magistrate of First Class has the power to entertain an application under this Act by an aggrieved person or protection officer or any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person. The main purpose of the Act is to provide speedy remedy to the aggrieved person and the Magistrate shall endeavour to dispose off every application under this Act within a period of sixty days from the date of first hearing. The Magistrate is also empowered under this Act to give directions to the aggrieved person and the respondent to undergo counseling. He may also take the help of welfare experts while discharging his duties. An aggrieved person can also avail the benefit of ‘in camera’ proceedings.
The Magistrate under the Act has the power to give the ‘protection order’ whereby the Magistrate can prohibit the respondent from committing any act of domestic violence. He may also prohibit the respondent from entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person or if the person aggrieved is a child, school or any other place frequented by the aggrieved person. Magistrate also has the power to protect the assets of aggrieved person and he may prohibit the respondent from alienating any assets, operating bank lockers or bank accounts used or enjoyed by both the parties.
The Act also provides for the protection of the interest of the aggrieved person in the shared household by restraining the respondent from dispossessing or disturbing in any manner the possession of aggrieved person in the shared household. Respondent may also be restrained from renouncing his rights in the shared household except with the leave of court. The Act also provides for Compensation and monetary relief which are not limited to the relief under any other parallel statute.
The Act also provides for ‘custody orders’ whereby the Magistrate may at any stage of hearing of the application for protection order or any other relief under this Act grant temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person. The Act also calls the government to give a wider publicity to the provisions of this Act through different modes, including television, radio, and print media at regular intervals and to ensure periodic sensitisation and awareness programmes for police officers and members of judicial services.
Since 12.07.2011, Jammu and Kashmir   Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2010 is in force, yet lot is required to be done on the part of the Government for its effective implementation. Awareness of this Act among women is required both from Urban to Panchayat Level. Rural people may be guided through more creative methods like story-telling, short plays, Nukkad Nataks etc. State shall take this issue on priority basis and shall not shrug off its responsibility under the pretext of financial constraints. There shall not be more delay in the appointment of protection officers. Even this Act cannot be considered as a panacea of all gender- centric issues as societal mindset requires a rational makeover. Equality can only be ensured if the agency of women is strengthened and individuality of a woman is respected both inside and outside the domestic sphere.

(The writer is a practicing lawyer in Supreme Court of India, New Delhi. Feedback at uzmaashrafju@gmail.com)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 8 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 8 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST




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