Holding court to solve women's problems

Signalling change

These ‘courts’ having `all women juries' take up cases ranging from ‘family feuds to disputes about agricultural fields’ and dispose them off in double quick time through ‘mutual compromise’.

“The all women court holds its sittings four times in a month in Mishrikh and Pisawan blocks of Sitapur district on pre-fixed dates”, says Dr Safiya Jameer, district convenor of ‘Mahila Samakhya’, an NGO under whose auspices these ‘courts’ are held.

“While simple cases are disposed off immediately through a compromise between the concerned parties, hearings on complex cases may take more time”, Dr. Jameer told Deccan Herald.

She says that while deciding cases, the interest of the women are always kept in mind.A victim has to pay a registration fee of Rs 21 along with her application. Once the case is registered with the ‘court’, the members of the jury begin investigation, she said.

Poonam Singh, also of Mahila Samakhya, said that an attempt is made to complete the investigation quickly so that a decision could be taken by the court without delay.

She said that in majority of cases a compromise is reached between the concerned parties. “Usually no one wants to take the matter to the judicial courts as its disposal may take many years”, Poonam added.

In cases where a compromise is not reached and the matter goes to the judiciary, the ‘court’, extends all possible help to the victims in fighting the case.

“These women courts have successfully resolved several cases concerning women’s issues and provided quick justice to the womenfolk”, Dr Jameer said.

Besides the ‘court’ also raises its voice against cases of rape, violence against women and other crimes against the women. “We take cudgels on behalf of the victims and try to ensure that the guilty is punished in accordance with the law of the land”, she said.

In a land where the men rule the roost and take decisions about the fate of women, existence of ‘women courts’ may sound strange but it certainly sends a strong message that the women are now asserting themselves.

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