The lack of awareness among women, absence of training for enforcing officers, along with the low number of protection officers stand in the way of effective implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, says protection officers under the Act.
According to the officers who act as bridge between the aggrieved women and the courts, a large section of women are unaware of the very existence of the Act while some others have no idea of the coverage under it. Though there are a number of cases being registered under the Act, only around 200 cases are brought to the protection officers in a year. The lack of knowledge on the part of women act as an impediment from getting the benefits of the Act.
“Around 40 per cent of women have no idea that such an Act exists while others are ignorant of the protection it provides. If a person attempts to oust his wife from house the protection officer has the right to issue order against the husband which allows the woman to stay in the house while instructing the husband and others, who harass her to leave the house,’’ said Shaniba A, project officer of the Social Welfare Department.
Shaniba said that the awareness programmes of the department also have not yielded the desired result to address the problem. One protection officer has been assigned in every district under the Act.
Many feel that the number of protection officers, who are facilitators for the enforcement of the Act, should be more.
“With only one officer in a district it is difficult to handle all cases’’ said Jalaja S, protection officer of the district.
“In addition a large section of police personnel lack knowledge about their role to make the Act beneficial to women. A police officer in the rank of sub-inspector was not ready to write the direct incident report when a victim of domestic violence approached him. I had to call him to make him aware that it was his duty to write the report’’ she said.
At the time when the Act came into force, a training programme was given to police officers of the rank of circle inspectors and sub-inspectors about their role in implementing the Act.
But when these officers were promoted, the officers who replaced them did not have a clear-cut idea about their responsibilities as per the law and this has been one of the impediments in fully implementing the Act, the protection officers said.
The Social Welfare Department has brought the issue to the notice of the Home Department.
Kerala is one among the states where the number of cases registered under the Act is high.
A recent study done by L Tharabai of Institute of Social Sciences for the state police had found that domestic violence formed one-third of the total crimes against women.