New Delhi: Nearly three years after it came into force, awareness about an act against domestic violence is very low amongst women and is restricted mostly to legal experts and activists, an NGO says.
"Most women in India are only aware of the dowry law which is a criminal offence, and don`t have much of a clue about the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA 2005), which, being a civil law was exclusively introduced to provide protection to victims of violence," Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of the Centre for Social Research, said in a statement here Wednesday.
"With limited or no understanding, women are unable to benefit from the new law unless they want to fight a legal battle under the dowry law, which is a slow procedure," she added.
Citing an example, Kumari said that Seema, a 31-year-old, educated and married woman in Pune was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of her in-laws and husband for nearly two years.
"Despite being from an educated background, she did not know how to seek a remedy or whom to approach to share her problem. Finally, after searching on the internet, she approached the police," Kumari said.
"The police officer, in turn, told her to resolve the matter within the family. Thus, she continued to battle her family members for another six months until a friend came to her aid and introduced her to a women`s cell. Seema is the perfect example of how women, due to lack of awareness, are not able to get timely relief from the act," she added.
"The delay in the full and effective implementation of the PWDVA is in large part reflective of a lack of awareness among the women and the stakeholders like protection officers, service providers and the police. There is no proper allocation of the designated money by the Planning Commission for creating mass awareness and to set up civil infrastructure for implementing the Act," Kumari said.
To address the issue, there should be more people appointed to handle these cases at the grassroots level and more money should be allocated for implementing the law, she recommended.
"Only 14 states, including West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, have separate budgetary allocations for implementation of the act, but it is minimal and does not indicate specific and separate allocations for infrastructure, training and awareness campaigns," Kumari pointed out.