Public hearing on women's woes

Public hearing on women's woes

Hurdles in handling domestic violence cases

The women, with tears in their eyes, explained their bitter experiences. Their worries had only compounded when they tried to lodge complaints or to obtain maintenance.

The public hearing was called to discuss the problems faced by women with the various State departments when dealing with complaints under Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Organised by Vimochana, Hengasara Hakkina Sangha, Alternative Law Forum and other organisations, the hearing aimed to draw attention to loopholes in the system, despite having an elaborate network of service providers, officials and a drawn-out judicial process.

Deepa (name changed), related how she found herself unable to lodge a complaint with the police about physical abuse until she obtained medical reports to prove that she had been beaten. Deepa, who takes care of her spastic child said that expecting a reasonable amount for maintenance was an uphill task.

“My husband is a real estate agent and he travels in a Rs 14-lakh car. But I cannot obtain any records for his income. However, the Court demands proof for everything and I have had to settle for a pittance (Rs 2,000/month) as the maintenance amount,” she said.

Other women also complained about the delay in getting a judicial order and the alarming frequency with which judges handling their cases change. Another woman Seema (name changed), related that her husband left her and then filed for divorce in Tamil Nadu, forcing her to abandon her work frequently to attend the court proceedings. “I have attended court 17 times in the last two years and I am facing the fourth judge. I still have not received an interim order,” she said. Women also stated that though there are 216 protection officers in the State, they are inaccessible as they are mostly busy with training camps and meetings.

Gender classes

Gender sensitisation courses had been held for the police personnel for the last seven years, said ADGP (Recruitment and Training) S T Ramesh. An independent agency will assess the effectiveness of this programme soon, he added.

The officials from various departments, present on the occasion, were asked to ensure greater co-ordination between the agencies to make it easier for woman to seek help.