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Loopholes in Domestic Violence Act
Though the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 guarantees justice to women who suffer domestic violence, but the Act hasn't been implemented properly and there is a dire need to raise awareness among people, especially in rural India.

IN A country, where constitution guarantees equal rights to women and men, it is a shame that women still have to struggle even for small things. A simple example of this is the domestic violence against women.

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Considering the fact and problems regarding the domestic violence, government of India framed Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, which came into force on October 26, 2006, but as far as the justice is concerned, victims are less aware about the provisions of the Act.

A research work was done by Kranti Gautamrao Salunke, a social works student, to highlight the loopholes of the Act and what measures should be taken to improve it. While talking with Aruna Gajbiye, Associate Professor, Tirpude Social Works College, she explained, “The act is mainly to protect the victim (woman) from the offenders and to reduce the domestic crime in the society. But due to some negligence by government, the victims are unable to raise their voice against the harassment.”

As per the Act, the victim can directly approach the Protection Officer (PO) for justice. But, it is found that, not a single person has directly approached PO in any domestic violence case. Most of the time, victims approached the police and then they informed the POs about the case. She said, “Government delivered the charge of Protection Officer to senior officers who already have other responsibilities. And those officials who are appointed as Protection Officers, are unaware about their responsibility. Similarly, no recruitment of Protection Officer was done in last seven years.”

As per the survey, the victim should get protection within 60 days of the registration of a case. Even, the first hearing will be done within that 60-day period, but due to the delay by officials it takes a long time. Most of the time, the cases reach the officials at the last stage of the domestic violence, due to lack of awareness.

Rekha Barahate, a lawyer who deals with the domestic violence cases explained, “Protection Officers are very lenient about their work. They handle the cases just as a work and not to show their performance to help someone. The domestic violence act is very beneficial for the victims. As per the law, the result should come up within 90 days. But, due to leniency of officials not a single case was solved during the time period.” Barahate also explained that awareness among the people regarding the act is very essential.

Even, media is the best way to increase the awareness among the people. Some improvement is needed in the law as well as in the behavior of the officials. Similarly, Dr Seema Sakhre, President of Stri Atyachar Virodhi Parishad said, “It comes under civil law and it is helpful for women. But, the mechanism is not properly working. The Revenue Officers holding the additional post of Protection Officer in Maharashtra are not working up to the mark. Hence, the major rectification needed is that government should appoint separate Protection Officers for domestic violence. A separate PO will concentrate on the responsibilities allotted to him.”

A survey was carried out regarding many facts of the Act, which are as follows:

Women are the soft targets for domestic violence, but 88 per cent Protection Officers are male and just 12 per cent are female. 52 per cent lawyers who deal with domestic violence are male and 48 per cent are female.

To solve the domestic violence cases, experience is the most important factor. As per the survey, 30 per cent Protection Officers have the experience of more than 25 years while 28 per cent lawyers have the experience of 5 to 10 years.

Around 68 per cent officials are trained to deal with domestic violence cases.

In domestic violence, 30 per cent protection officers believe that physical assault on women is very common and 40 per cent believe that both physical and mental harassment are the major issues.

Causes of domestic violence against women

- No or less dowry.

- Refusal to bring money from patriarchal family on demand.

- Partial or total failure to fulfill the commitments made at settlement of marriage.

- Love affairs prior to or after marriage.

- Extramarital relations.

- Medically unfit for child bearing

- Husband is alcoholic

- Husband is unemployed

Improvements needed in the Act

- Separate Protection Officer (PO) should be recruited by the government to reduce domestic violence.

- The court or legal procedure should be easy for the victims and proper protection should be provided to them by the authority.

- Justice should be delivered in the mentioned time period (60 Days).

- Majority of POs are male but victims are females, hence government should recruit female POs for the benefit of female victims.

- Proper implementation of the Act and quick decision making should be done during solving a case.

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