'Make domestic violence law gender neutral'

At a time when AAP MLA Somnath Bharti’s domestic violence case has hit the headlines, an NGO has suggested that family laws should be made civil in nature and there should be no police role in counselling in such matters.

Childrens Rights Initiative For Shared Parenting (CRISP), which is observing October as the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, claimed that more men suffer domestic violence at home than women so the Act should be made gender neutral.

CRISP President Kumar Jahgirdar demanded, in a statement, speedy trial of DV cases and said all family cases pertaining to dowry, DV, child custody and maintenance should be brought under one roof in the same court complex preferably with CCTV facility.

Jahgirdar, who is currently holding workshops across north India, also sought the implementation of the Law commission of India recommendation to make shared parenting mandatory.

“The government should take steps to pass the bill as soon as possible to prevent thousands of fathers – involved in matrimonial cases with estranged wives – from committing suicide,” he said.

He also demanded the setting up of evening and weekend family courts to reduce the pending cases in child custody matters.

“There could also be special guardian courts to address disputes regarding child custody, shared parenting and visitation rights,” said Jahgirdar.

He said CRISP is creating nationwide awareness about the problems faced by men with regard to matrimonial disputes.

“It is now well established that family disputes and domestic violence is the number one killer for married men in India as 24 per cent of suicides are directly attributed to such cases,” he said.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its latest statistics showed that 89,129 men have committed suicide in 2014 as compared to  42,537 women, he said.

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