Minister for Women and Child Development today inaugurated the sixth national conference on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) 2005 held here today. Also present were Smt. Indira Jaising, Addl Solicitor General, Justice (Retd.) Ruma Pal and Ms. Anne Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women.
In her inaugural address, Smt. Tirath stated that the PWDV Act provides comprehensive and effective civil remedies with criminal procedures to ensure effective protection and relief to victims of domestic violence. But it is only the beginning. She said that with all the growth the country has achieved, it still lags behind in development indicators. There is poor control of women within household and they suffer from violence within their homes. In order to see that laws are effective it is necessary to ensure their effective implementation, the Minister pointed out. Continuous monitoring to ensure that the law is meaningfully impacting women’s lives is needed, she further added.
Smt. Tirath stated that the Ministry of WCD has made a provision of around Rs. 100 cr per annum from 2013 onwards for appointment of Protection Officers who can exclusively work towards implementation of the PWDVA for the 12th plan period. She added that the Ministry will be assisting State governments in funding for two Protection Officers and two Service Providers in districts and for office equipment etc. and one Protection Officer exclusively in Talukas/Sub divisional offices in 100 vulnerable districts.
She released the ‘Manual on Best Practices on the implementation of PWDV Act 2005’ and a ‘Resource Tool for Monitoring & Evaluation of PWDV Act 2005’ on the occasion. The Best Practices Manual sets out to acknowledge the exemplary efforts of some States with regards to implementation of PWDV Act. The Monitoring and Evaluation reports on the other hand prepared by Lawyers Collective present a national picture of the status of implementation of the PWDVA in India.
Speaking at the occasion, Ms. Ruma Pal stated that laws by themselves are not self activating, and do not by themselves eliminate the malady for which they are created. Their effectiveness lies in their implementation, she stated. Despite penal provisions against such crimes, as rape, their numbers have increased in the country. The scale of domestic violence too points towards a denial of human rights to women within households, she noted. She was also of the opinion that despite the increasing recourse to the PWDVA, there is still an absence of accountability of those charged with its implementation. A more stringent and systematic monitoring is therefore needed. While courts have taken upon themselves to do the monitoring of the Act periodically, she suggested the Government to take up this responsibility henceforth as it was more suitably located to carry out this task. She stated that the monitoring mechanism needs to be part of the statute itself.
Smt. Jaising said that this was a solemn occasion as Delhi was witness to one of the most virulent forms of attack against a woman recently. There has been a general and large scale shift in ‘national consciousness’ against such crimes, she said. She also added that it is an essential part of governance to ensure equality for women in all spheres of life through acts and policies.
Also present during the function were senior officers from Ministry of Women and Child Development, representatives from State governments, protection officers, civil society organizations, women groups, members from Lawyer’s Collective, NMEW and UN Women.