Women’s rights

The Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (“LCWRI”)’s mission is the empowerment of women through law. This is based on the belief that law is an instrument of social change and can be used in different ways to further the constitutional and human rights of women. Since its inception in 1998, the LCWRI has been actively engaged with the entire legal regime of addressing the rights of women in law.

Despite decades of concerted efforts by NGOs and civil society, the overall status of women and their legal entitlements still call for long struggles. Even today, women occupy a devalued position in society. This is manifested in different forms of grave human rights violations such as domestic / sexual violence, sexual harassment at the workplace, identity based gender violence and sex selective abortions to name a few. These forms of violence result in the negation of equality rights of women. It is also in the exclusion from all public spaces and spheres of activities such as meaningful employment. In the absence of a state sponsored social security network and unemployment guarantees, they become dependent on their male relatives for protection and support doing them further into the trap of violence.

The LCWRI provides legal inputs to the women’s movement. The LCWRI through its experience of providing legal aid to survivors of sex based discrimination, violence, abuse and crimes, has realised the need to analyse the working of the laws and investigate ground realities when it comes to implementing laws relating to women. At the LCWRI, our objective has always been to find out the efficacy and relevance of legislation and legal systems and recommend its better use, as well as to initiate and spearhead law reform processes, whenever required. Law reform recommendations are formulated by keeping in mind the lived realities of women. The recommendations put forth by the LCWRI are directed not only towards recognising equality rights of women but also towards creating an enabling environment in which such rights can be asserted. The LCWRI’s efforts in creating legal awareness are guided by the overall objective of empowering women.

The work of the LCWRI has in the past years have focused on a wide range of issues such as domestic violence, sexual harassment at the workplace, sexual assault, reproductive rights, trafficking / commercial sexual exploitation, violence faced by victims of religious intolerance etc. Our most successful campaign has been the enactment of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in 2005. The success of this campaign heralds in a new era of law making in which the demand for a law is articulated by the civil society and the content of the law is arrived at through a consultative process directed at consensus building. This successful experiment, at the initiative of the LCWRI, has demonstrated that the process of law making is no longer the sole preserve of the state but is participatory with civil society.

Rationale adopted by the LCWRI :

The LCWRI was set up with the mission of empowering women through law. It is based on the belief that law is an instrument of social change and can be used in different ways to further the constitutional rights of women.

Identifying areas of focus :

At the time of its initiation, the LCWRI received numerous requests from organisations across the country to pursue litigation on trafficking in women and children, prosecutions for rape against powerful politicians and implementation of laws relating to the ban on sex pre-selection. Each of these issues presented a grave violation of women’s rights. A policy decision was therefore taken to bifurcate the litigation load of the LCWRI into PIL’s to be filed to realise equality rights of women on broad based issues and to pursue routine cases on focus areas.

In the early stages violence against women was identified as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the empowerment of women. Hence it was decided that area of focus while undertaking routine cases would be aspects concerning violence against women with particular emphasis on the issue of domestic violence. There was a twofold objective behind taking on cases on domestic violence. First, violence is in the private sphere, the family was not addressed by the law and remained hidden. It was identified as one of the major impediments to the development of women and their participation in the public sphere. Secondly, it trained young lawyers in court procedures and allowed for discerning trends in patterns of violence faced by women and decision-making by women in this context. The first hand information collected through this process informs any law reform proposals that the LCWRI has made in its years of existence. The impetus for our successful campaign for a civil law on domestic violence was gathered from our experience of providing legal aid to women facing domestic violence.

Viewing focus issues through the lens of substantive equality :

The LCWRI views all issues concerning women through the lens of anti-discrimination and equality. This allows us to contextualise wide-ranging issues within the lived realities of women and suggest a holistic approach in dealing with such issues.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a manifestation of inequality within the home. It is therefore, not enough to advocate for the implementation of laws criminalising domestic violence. There is a need to create an enabling environment in which a woman is able to assert her rights and seek legal recourse. It is, therefore, essential to address the inequality within the home and recognise rights that counter such inequality to enable women to seek legal action. Given the lack of support a woman is provided with, it is unlikely that a woman will ever resort to legal remedies unless she is assured, at a minimum, of a right to reside in her home. This has a bearing on property and matrimonial rights of women that are currently within the realm of separate personal laws of religious communities. The right to reside that has been recognised through our campaign for a civil law on domestic violence is applicable only in circumstances of violence. In order to recognise women as equal stakeholders within the family, it is essential to review personal laws governing property and matrimonial rights.

Personal laws

The Indian Constitution separately recognises the right to religion. The right to religion, as provided in the Constitution, is not an absolute right but subject to limitations based on public order and morality as well as non-derogation of other rights guaranteed under the Constitution. It is under the auspices of protecting the right to religion that discriminatory personal laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. As women’s lives are mostly confined to their homes, the continuance of such discriminatory laws is a major impediment in pursuing the goal of substantive equality. The LCWRI has, persistently engaged with the regime of personal laws, through litigation and advocacy initiatives, in order to achieve the goal substantive equality of women. The position taken in this regard is that while religious rights of communities have to be respected, it cannot be to the detriment of women’s equality rights.

Sexual harassment at the workplace

Equality rights of women have to be recognised not only within the home but also in her interactions with the outside world. A woman’s right to a safe working environment is an essential pre-requisite for her engaging with economic processes that are not confined to the home. Hence, the LCWRI has engaged in providing legal aid to women facing sexual harassment at the workplace. Lessons learnt from this aspect of our work have been translated into the creation of legal literacy materials and drafting of a comprehensive law on sexual harassment.

Sex selection and sex selective abortions

Another example of using an equalities framework in addressing violation of women’s rights is our position on the issue of female feticide. Sex selection and sex selective abortions are one of the reasons for declining sex ratios. The law seeks to address the issue by criminalising the disclosure of the sex of the fetus detected during the provision of pre-natal diagnostic care and sex selective abortions . The process of implementation of the laws is fraught as women face the possibility of prosecution under the existing provisions of the law. A woman’s right to abortion is not recognised under Indian law; instead, there are liberal grounds under which women can seek an abortion. The quandary is to provide a theoretical basis for recognising a woman’s right to abortion while simultaneously restricting this right to prevent sex selective abortions. A right to abortion recognised as being part of a woman’s right to privacy does not have any answers for preventing sex selective abortions. After all, if a right to abortion is part of the privacy rights of women then there can be no restrictions placed on such rights. However, if the right to abortion is articulated within an equalities framework, keeping in mind the disproportionate biological and sociological burdens placed on women both during child bearing and child rearing, then restrictions can be placed if the right is used to negate the equality rights of women. Hence it is our position that, right to abortion is primarily an aspect of the right of a woman to control her own destiny and autonomy in deciding when she wants children and how many. It cannot be used to decide that she wants only male and not female children. Hence restrictions can be placed on the right to abortion in larger public interest. Declining numbers of women in the population impacts on the women as a social class. This is the aspect of public interest that requires protection while considering restrictions to the right to abortion.

Even so, the LCWRI has consistently advocated against the criminalisation of women seeking sex selective abortions under the existing legal regime on the issue and in its implementation. There must be recognition of the fact that decisions made by women are made within a patriarchal context. In our experience of providing legal aid, we have come across many instances in which domestic violence has exacerbated due to the failure of the woman to bear a male child. In these circumstances, the role of the law should only be towards the limited purpose of regulating the practice of medical professionals who are complicit in the commission of the offence.

The equality framework in relation to reproductive rights and issues of sexuality

In the equality framework adopted by the LCWRI, a special emphasis is placed on the aspect of reproductive rights and issues of sexuality. This requires an examination of the concept of equality and its interplay with the notion of reproductive rights.

Men and women are not the same because of biological differences. Despite this fact, an adherence to the “similarly situated” doctrine would mean that women would have to be like men to ensure the applicability of the guarantee of equality. Therefore, this doctrine is not reflective of the lived realities of women, particularly in their reproductive functions of child bearing, which is biologically defined and their related roles in child rearing, which is socially defined. Procreation and women’s role in it greatly contribute to the subordinate status of women in society. The right of a woman to reproductive control and access to an enabling environment to exercise this control is a crucial aspect in women’s struggle for empowerment and gaining equal opportunities. The context, therefore, compels the need for the recognition of “reproductive rights” not only to be separately articulated for women but also based on the theory of equality that does not attempt to place men as a reference for women. A recognisable and enforceable legal framework on reproductive rights is a prerequisite to the end goal of women’s empowerment.

A woman’s experience of gender inequality is based in a large part on the formulation of sexuality and the ascription of sexual roles in society. In the words of Catharine Mackinnon “sexuality is to feminism what work is to Marxism” . Defining sexual roles is, as in the case of reproduction, done with reference to a male standard and puts in place relations of dominance and subordination to the detriment of women. To work within this framework would only be to respond to standards set by men. The attempt is, again, in the words of Catharine Mackinnon, not to make legal categories that trace and trap the status quo, but confront by law the inequalities in women’s condition in order to change them .

Women’s conditions are determined in the context of concrete realities. Experiences of economic deprivation, adherence to cultural traditions and socially defined roles, gender based violence, of being the bearers of identity, have to be accounted for and reflected in the formulation of gender specific legislation and the application of “gender neutral” laws. Focus issues of the LCWRI are, therefore, contextualised in the lived realities of women. For instance, the issue of violence cannot be examined in isolation but in the context of women’s overall status in society, the nature of property ownership, traditional, cultural and religious influences that have a bearing on the nature of support she might access and the decisions that she makes.

Similarly, equality rights of women in the workplace have to be considered in the context of available livelihood options, existence of safe working environments, negotiating powers within mainstream structures, social security options and the availability of a supportive work environment.

The LCWRI’s contribution is focussed within the realm of law. However, it acknowledges the need for other forms of advocacy and its own need to forge links with other social movements to transform legal equality to social equality.

Proven Strengths :

LCWRI is based on its proven strength in the following areas

• Its proven track record of committed cause lawyering over the past 2 decades

• Its existing legal expertise and availability of trained legal personnel.

• Its interface with the judiciary, the law enforcement authorities, the police, the legal community, statutory authorities and the government.

• Its networking with partner NGO’s and experience in building national level coalitions and broad-basing the ‘ownership-stake’ of an issue to make it a community concern.

• Its accessibility to the affected community /persons who can directly approach the LCWRI, either individually or collectively.

These proven strengths of the LCWRI have been acquired over the years through the practice of the Lawyers Collective as a whole and by the LCWRI as one of its unit. The following section takes a brief look at the history of the Lawyers Collective.
The three main activity cells of the WRI are :

1. Legal Aid Component

The Cell provides quality legal services inclusive of legal advice and opinions. It also undertakes public interest litigation on behalf of different groups in an attempt to bring about progressive changes in the law. The LAC drafts complaints on behalf of the clients in civil law disputes and also prepares clients for recording statements at the Police Stations and in the court in criminal cases under Sec 498A, Sec 376, Sec 304B and other legal cases. It also initiates proceedings in higher courts for the purpose of establishing precedents, which advances women’s rights. The Cell works in close coordination with NGO’s, service providers or state agencies such as the National Commission for Women (NCW) to facilitate the client’s access to legal services.

Objectives :

1.To provide legal assistance to women facing domestic violence, sexual harassment at the workplace, victims of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and discrimination faced in matrimonial matters.

2.To file PIL’s in order to enforce human rights standards.

3.To organise and participate in alternative dispute mechanisms, such as conducting Lok Adalats in collaboration with statutory bodies.

4.To document experiences gathered in providing legal aid

5.To facilitate a survivor’s group to support women litigants while accessing legal remedies, generating livelihood options and providing a support base for campaigns

Public interest litigation/ social action interventions :

Since 1978 there has been a substantial amount of public interest litigation undertaken on behalf of women, children and bonded labour. Public interest litigation has been an essential component of the LCWRI project from its very inception, focused as it is on legal change. Some of the major PIL’s and social action litigation filed by the LAC are Geeta Hariharan v Reserve Bank of India, Daniel Latifi v Union of India, CEHAT, MASUM and Dr Sabu George v Union of India and other, Anweshi Women’s Counselling Centre v State of Kerala, Air India and Bar Girls cases.

Survivor’s group :

In recognition of the fact that survivors of violence are in an ideal position to understand and empathise with other survivors, the LCWRI has facilitated the formation of a “Survivors group” in Mumbai. The objective of this initiative is to make this group self sustaining with limited support from the LCWRI and to draw support from this group in future to sustain legal advocacy efforts.

Participation in alternate dispute mechanisms :

The LCWRI has successfully organised and participated in 2 Lok Adalats in collaboration with the Delhi State Commission for Women and Delhi Legal Services Authority. With a little over a 50% settlement rate the results of these Lok Adalats have been a tremendous success in providing expeditious settlement and relief to the parties.

Victims of religious intolerance :

Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution recognise the fundamental right to freedom of religion. Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Despite these Constitutional guarantees, the nation’s secular fabric is frequently torn asunder. The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 are glaring instances of communal violence aided and abetted by the state’s acts of commission and omission. As is well acknowledged, women bear the brunt of such violence, both as it occurs and in its aftermath. The physical and sexual offences committed against Muslim women in Gujarat reflect how women, as bearers of community identity and honour, are specifically targeted for violence. Needless to say, such extraordinary gender specific violence occurs in addition to the more routinised gender-specific discrimination that women experience within their own religious or ethnic communities.

The 2002 Gujarat pogrom prompted several organisations working on human rights to mount a co-ordinated effort to aid the victims. Immediately after the riots, the year 2002, the LCWRI sent teams of lawyers to Gujarat to provide legal assistance to victims. Since then the LCWRI has been working consistently towards seeking justice by holding the State Government of Gujarat and its functionaries accountable for their acts of omission and commission.

The LCWRI has also taken on the following activities in this regard:

• Monitoring legal proceedings in different fora

• Facilitating the setting up of networks of para-legals and lawyers to represent victims in legal proceedings.

• Training para-legals for the abovementioned purpose.

• Creating a resource base of materials and evidence collected on the Gujarat carnage and legal proceedings.

 

2. Research and Documentation Component

LCWRI is an interface between academic inquiry and social action. The research division of LCWRI is motivated by the belief that the pursuit of knowledge should be a socially relevant activity. The Research and Documentation Cell supports litigation, aids skill building and feeds advocacy by researching into issues being pursued in court. The Cell documents and collates national and international laws and practices pertaining to women’s rights and human rights. It works in close collaboration with other organizations working on similar issues and disseminates legal information in easy and readable forms. The Cell has an in-house capacity building documentation center generating publications and formulating legal manuals on gender specific laws that can be used by forums working on women’s rights and human rights issues. Our research projects and surveys have been appreciated for their scientific rigor, policy-level recommendations and action-oriented insights.

Objectives :

1.Undertaking action oriented research into human rights issues with a view to strengthen existing laws and propose new laws towards achieving the constitutional goal of equality.

2.Promoting multi-disciplinary approaches for researching on issues pertaining to human rights generally and women’s rights particularly.

3.To undertake legal research on and document and collate national and international laws and practices concerning women’s and human rights.

4.To document and collate literature, such as research papers, parliamentary proceedings, Law Commission reports, to name a few, on laws relating to women, and other marginalised groups.

5.To conduct empirical research on the implementation of laws and their impact on women’s lives.

6.Conduct investigative and fact-finding missions for supporting proceedings in court.

7.To prepare position papers, fact sheets and backgrounders on various facets of the law vis-à-vis discrimination against women.

8.To maintain a documentation centre consisting of legislation, studies, reports and cases on issues of human rights, women’s rights, constitutional law, labour rights, environmental rights, international law, and all other issues concerning social justice.

9.To collate the legal experiences of the LAC to discern trends in violence and to document the work carried out by the LCWRI on a regular basis.

10. To support the work of the LAC by undertaking research on issues that is pending before the court.

11. To support the work of advocacy and capacity building by generating resource materials for use in advocacy strategies.

12. To provide a research base to argue for law reform towards achieving constitutional goals of equality.

13. Encourage a holistic approach to the towards understanding of women’s rights from a human rights perspective by documenting influences of sociological, developmental, legal, economic, and other developments.

14. Regularly updating information on current events and press releases, etc.

 

3. Advocacy and Training Component

The organization carries out several legal literacy workshops and training programs in schools, colleges, law enforcement agencies, policy makers and local communities to senstitise women about their rights. Initiatives have been taken to create awareness for the need of law reform or create new laws in order to safeguard the needs of women in general. This is done in consultation with various NGOs and organization that are working in the same field. Over the years, the Cell has conducted workshops/consultations, participated in expert committees on empowerment of women and conducted workshops/seminars for gender awareness in laws.

Objectives :

1.Consensus building at the regional, national and international levels.

2.Forging a national and international network of organisations and individuals to advocate for the realisation of human rights in India and supporting cause lawyering efforts at the national level.

3.Spearheading national campaigns for the promulgation and implementation of human rights based laws.

4.Liasing with state/ statutory authorities for proposing new legislation

5.Forging collectives with members of the civil society to strengthen access to justice.

6.Monitoring legal developments and the implementation of specific legislation such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, the draft law on sexual harassment at the work place, proposed amendments to sexual assault laws, laws impacting on the reproductive rights of women, trafficking etc.

7.Advocating for the incorporation of a gender perspective in the implementation of laws.

8.Providing technical support to other human rights movements and campaigns.

9.Encouraging the use of law as an instrument of empowerment.

10. Legal trainings to law enforcement agencies, NGO’s, policy makers and others to use the law with a human rights perspective.

11. Advocating for the incorporation of human rights training in the curriculum of other disciplines such as medicine, economics, etc.

II. Methodology :

In keeping with the overall objective of empowering women and realising the goal of substantive equality, the focus of LCWRI is on critically examining the effectiveness of laws and recommending its better use. In order to achieve this objective, the work of the Lawyers Collective is informed by the experience of pursuing litigation in court and is supported by action oriented legal and empirical research. The advocacy efforts of the LCWRI are primarily directed towards spreading legal awareness, consensus building and linking with other organisations to inject a multi-disciplinary approach in the implementation of laws.

The LCWRI approaches issues at the micro and macro levels. The micro-level intervention includes supporting victims of violence by providing legal counselling, legal representation and facilitating access to other service providers. At the macro-level, the efforts are directed at consensus building, pursuing social action litigation with a view to precedent setting, liasing with state authorities in advocating for the adoption of best practices that is collated from international standards, our own experience in providing legal aid at the micro level and successful practices in other countries around the world.

In all of this the LCWRI does not attempt to supplant state agencies in their role of upholding and implementing laws. Instead, its efforts are directed towards holding state authorities to their statutory and constitutional roles and recommending strategies that are most effective in realising goals of gender justice.

Accordingly, the work of the LCWRI is divided into three components. The components work seamlessly to constitute an organic whole with each unit complimenting and inputting into the work of the other. The three components of the unit focus on legal intervention, advocacy and capacity building, and documentation as defined below.

The experience of the Legal Aid Cell in providing legal assistance to women facing domestic violence and other forms of discrimination provides the base from which the LCWRI initiates advocacy and research activities by identifying goals and strategies. At the High Court and Supreme Court levels, it focuses on judicial activism to bring about changes in the law. In order to do so in the most compelling manner, the Legal Aid Cell relies on research information (through the conduct of empirical research, case analysis, literature reviews and exhaustive documentation of laws, reports, publications, etc.) generated from the research and documentation component. The advocacy and capacity building component supports the Legal Aid Cell by focusing on law reform and disseminating information to relevant stakeholders through trainings and legal awareness workshops. The overall goal is to create an environment where activism and research, fieldwork and theory inform each other in order to bring about systemic legal change for a more just society. The methodology adopted by the LCWRI is based on the belief that, in order to be most effective, the women’s movement must operate at different levels simultaneously, targeting varied stakeholders and issues.

Download       Network of Lawyers (NOL) 1st Training Programme Report

Download       Agenda for the NOL Training

Download       List of Lawyers participating in 1st LC Training

Download      Consolidated timeline for changes in ipc, 1860

Constitutional Background

The Indian Constitution guarantees equality as ‘Fundamental Rights’ in Articles 14, 15 and 16 under Part III. Article 14 guarantees equality before law and the equal protection of laws. Article 15 prohibits discrimination ‘only’ on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them. Article 15 also allows for special provisions to be made for women, children, socially and educationally backward classes of citizens as well as the Schedule Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) – such special provisions shall not be considered discriminatory. Article 16 provides for equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. It also allows the state to make reservations in favour of the SC, ST and Other Backward Classes. While the Constitution does not specifically mention reservation for women, the Constitutional (74thAmendment) Act, 1992, brought in provisions mandating one-third reservations for women in local governance bodies. These guarantees apply to state and public institutions. The only provision that binds both the public and the private sector is Article 17 which outlaws untouchabilityand forbids its practice in any form.

Part IV of the Indian Constitution enlists socio-economic and cultural rights under the title of ‘Directive Principles of State Policies’ (DPSP). While the DPSP, unlike the fundamental rights, are not enforceable, these rights are meant to guide the state while legislating and policy making.

The Supreme Court and the High Courts under Article 32 and 226 respectively, have the power to enforce constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights. This Right to Constitutional Remedies is itself a fundamental right.

For the enforcement of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court has expanded the locus standiwhich has resulted in ‘public interest litigation’ on behalf of socially deprived categories. The expansion of locus standi was justified by Justice Bhagwati in S. P. Gupta v. President of India & Others1as follows:

It may therefore now be taken as well established that where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional or legal provision or without authority of law or any such legal wrong or legal injury or illegal burden is threatened and such person or determinate class of persons is by reason of poverty, helplessness or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position, unable to approach the Court for relief, any member of the public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction, order or writ in the High Court under Article 226 and in case of breach of any fundamental right of such person or determinate class of persons, in this Court under Article 32 seeking judicial redress for the legal wrong or injury caused to such person or determinate class of persons.”2

Status of Women in India

Against this scenario, it would appear that women are guaranteed equality, equal protection of laws, equality of status and opportunity, thus redeeming the preambulatory promise of Justice: social, economic and political. The mainstream Indian society continues to fall short in the realization of full equality for the marginalized groups, particularly women. According to 2001 census report, the sex ratio stands at 933 females per 1000 males.3Out of the total population, 120 million are women who live in abject poverty. The maternal mortality rate in rural areas is among the highest in the world. India accounts for 19% of all live births and 27% of all maternal deaths. The post neonatal mortality rate (number of deaths of children age 1-11 months per 1000 live births) for females is 21, compared with only 15 for boys.4The total female labor force participation rate is estimated to be only 28% in 2008, and this data does not take into account the hours spent by women on household activities.5In urban areas, female labor force participation rate is estimated to be at only 7.8% in 2005-06.6Only 36% of the female populations in the age group 15-64 years are participating in the labor force.7These statistics present a dismal picture of women’s lives across both, public as well as private spheres. Even when women engage in paid work, their daily income is only 53 paisa per rupee earned by men in rural areas and 68 paisa in urban areas. Women’s economic vulnerability is compounded by their social vulnerability.8

Existing Legislative Framework

There is no comprehensive anti-discrimination code in India although there are laws that address specific aspects related to equality. For instance, laws like the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 attempt to address the existent systemic discrimination towards women in employment. Based on the guarantee of equality, laws have been enacted to address violence against women under civil and criminal laws. The Protection of Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is an example of the civil law to address violence within the home. On the other hand, the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an example of criminal law to counter acts of violence against SC/ST women. In the absence of an anti-discrimination code, there is no comprehensive statutory definition of discrimination that takes into account different manifestations of discrimination and its impact.

Other than mechanisms provided under these laws, India has instituted statutory commissions to protect human rights such as the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women. These commissions have been vested with the function of inter aliamonitoring and reviewing state action and making recommendations for better enforcement of human rights and women’s rights. However, theyhave their limitations. Their recommendations are not binding upon the government and they have no power to redress individual grievances and grant relief.

Proposed Law

The Sachar Committee Report in 2006 first put forth the idea of setting up a new legal framework for tackling grievances of the minority population. Following up on that, the Menon Committee Report in 2008 proposed a new framework in the form of Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC). The EOC has been visualized as one with extensive authority to investigate, gather data, conduct audits, advocate and render advice. However, the proposed legislation does not visualize an authority which can redress grievances and grant relief to individuals and/or groups. Amongst other things, the consultation will look at this proposed legal framework in a critical light.

To secure the constitutional promise of equality and achieve full equality of opportunity for vulnerable groups, particularly women, India needs an equality legislation that protects multiple characteristics, extends beyond the private and public divide and addresses manifest discrimination in society. Thus, a consultation titled ‘Towards an Anti-Discrimination Law in India’ was organized on December 11-12, 2010 at India Habitat Center, New Delhi to deliberate and brainstorm over the need for an anti-discrimination legislation whose objectives and framework respond to the need of the hour.

1AIR 1982 SC 149

2Ibid; para 17.

4Data Source: National Family Health Survey 2005-2006

5Data Source: World Bank Database (http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog)

6Data Source: NSSO Estimate 2005-2006

7Ibid. 3

Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative had studied the amendments made in 2005 to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 whereby the daughter was formally added as a coparcener. This report aimed to map the development in inheritance and property rights under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

FULL REPORT HERE

Violence against women (VAW) in India is an issue rooted in cultural history, economic dependence and social norms. Discriminatory practices are underlined by skewed laws. Further, inadequate policing and judicial practices deny women proper protection and just ice. Although participation in public life for women is on the rise and some laws have been amended, unequal treatment and crime against women continues. Indeed, India has a long way to go to make women equal citizens.

The Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) views all issues concerning women through the lens of anti-discrimination and equality. This allows us to contextualise wide-ranging issues within the lived realities of women and suggest a holistic approach in dealing with such issues.

In this section, you will find a plethora of information regarding Domestic violence statistics, judgments, as well as some of our research and work on VAW. You will also find some of our activities, events and submissions on law and policy. Please contact us on wri.delhi@lawyerscollective.org for specific queries. We will try our best to get back to you soon.

– Team LCWRI

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a manifestation of inequality within the home. It is therefore, not enough to advocate for the implementation of laws criminalising domestic violence. There is a need to create an enabling environment in which a woman is able to assert her rights and seek legal recourse. It is, therefore, essential to address the inequality within the home and recognise rights that counter such inequality to enable women to seek legal action. Given the lack of support a woman is provided with, it is unlikely that a woman will ever resort to legal remedies unless she is assured, at a minimum, of a right to reside in her home. This has a bearing on property and matrimonial rights of women that are currently within the realm of separate personal laws of religious communities. The right to reside that has been recognised through our campaign for a civil law on domestic violence is applicable only in circumstances of violence. In order to recognise women as equal stakeholders within the family, it is essential to review personal laws governing property and matrimonial rights.

Campaigning For the Law

The Lawyers Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative) began its campaign for a civil law on domestic violence in the early 1990s. The need for a specific law on domestic violence was obvious, given the fact that the Indian legal and political systems have denied adequate legal redress to women facing violence within homes and intimate relationships for long.

With the coming into force of the PWDVA 2005, this campaign achieved a landmark victory. However, we believe that our task is only half done. We have to take our campaign to the next level i.e. working and advocating for the effective implementation of the law through public awareness, sensitization & trainings and ensuring that the mechanisms provided in the law are in reality put in place and made accessible to women. It is only when women are empowered to negotiate from a position of equality, will our campaign reach its logical conclusion.

The Need for a law on Domestic Violence

For women in India facing domestic violence, the remedies available prior to 2005 were under the civil law for divorce and under the criminal law provision of Section 498A of the IPC.

Under the civil law, a woman can initiate proceedings for divorce and judicial separation on the ground of cruelty. But this fails to provide any kind of immediate relief to the woman, besides leading to problems of costs and delays in litigation.

Further, the breakdown of a marriage in our society with its attendant discrimination means a virtual civil death for a woman. In the absence of any adequate recourse under civil law for emergency relief and immediate protection from violence, Section 498A IPC therefore, provided women with the only means for such protection prior to this Act. But the reluctance of women to approach the criminal justice system and the inadequacy of the criminal remedy itself are important realities of our social context.

Again, in India, a prominent manifestation of domestic violence is first for the woman to be made a prisoner of the house and then to be thrown out of it. Therefore, there was an urgent need for a law, which could address this phenomenon of depriving women of their Right to Reside in the shared household.

Hence, a more concerted legal strategy to combat domestic violence consisting of a judicious mix of both civil and criminal law remedies, which is sensitive to the experiences of women facing violence at home, the reasons and nature of the violence, the immediate requirements of the woman, and which addresses existing inequalities in domestic relationships was urgently required.

The Constitution of India guarantees substantive equality to women. Such guarantees of substantive equality include not just declaration of rights, but also facilitate access to justice to realize these rights. Therefore, a legislation that combined protection of women from domestic violence with mechanisms, which ensure access to justice in case of violation of this protection, was necessary.

At the start of the Lawyers Collective campaign, it was decided that the law should be primarily civil in nature, with important crossover elements of criminal law. However, the foundation of this effort was and still remains the recognition of the agency of the woman.

The Passage of the Law

Following the inclusion of the domestic violence bill as a priority within the CMP, we were invited to a series of discussions on the proposed bill with the Secretary and members of the Department of Women and Child in the months of May – July. Based on these discussions, it was decided that the LCWRI Bill would be taken as the basis for any future law on domestic violence.

This was followed and complemented by state, regional and national level consultations. The introduction of the Bill in the Parliament was preceded by presentations made by LCWRI along with several prominent women’s groups and a full-fledged campaign to create awareness on the need for this law.

Advocacy and Training:

Our advocacy work on domestic violence continues, and in fact, has assumed a new significance in light of the issues raised with regard to implementation of the Act at state levels as well as the need to ensure that the law is understood and interpreted in its true spirit.

The LCWRI has been actively engaged in advocating for putting in place the implementing agencies and structures under the Act with nodal departments of various state governments, National Commission for women, State women’s commissions.

At the same time, we continue in our endeavor to create awareness on the law by conducting and facilitating training workshops for lawyers, members of the judiciary, NGOs, community workers, women’s support groups and students in various parts of the country.

Publications:

The PWDVA was designed and passed to address the gap between the guarantee of the Constitution of equal rights and the problems faced in existing laws. The true spirit of any legislation, however, is recognised only through its effective implementation. The Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative which was instrumental in the enactment of the PWDVA, has taken a step further through the annual monitoring and evaluation (“M&E”) of the implementation of the Act since 2007.

The M & E reports are based on three sources of data:

(1) Infrastructure data received from the various State government departments on the implementation of the PWDVA;

(2) State visits conducted by the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative;

(3) Analysis of Orders on PWDVA delivered by the Courts.

The data received from all three sources is examined together in order to present an emerging picture of the implementation of the PWDVA.

Sukrit Verma and Anr. V. State of Raj. and Anr.

Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench

Date of the Judgment — 5th May 2011

Issues dealt —

  1. Women – an easy pray to male ego
  2. Need for PWDVA
  3. Section 20- a powerful tool for ensuring gender equality in economic terms
  4. “No law provides that a husband has to maintain a wife, living separately from him, irrespective of the fact whether he earns or not”– Delhi High Court. Such an observation -clearly contrary to the provisions of law. Hence, this Court respectfully disagrees.
  5. Sensitivity of the Judges and recognition of moral and legal duty of husband to maintain the wife.

Relevant Excerpts are as follows:

1) Women – an easy pray to male ego

6.      Women have been subjected to violence, domestic or otherwise, throughout the pages of history-whether they be Helen of Troy, or Sita of Ramayana, whether they be Casandra of Troy, or Dropadi of Mahabharata. Women have been easy pray to the male ego, and dominance. Much as the Indian Civilization pays obedience to the feminine divine, but the harsh reality remains that throughout the length and breath of this country, women are assaulted, tortured, and burnt in their daily lives. The phenomenal growth of crime against women, has attracted the attention of the international community. The International organisations took a serious look at the epidemic called “domestic violence”. The Vienna Accord of 1994, and the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (1995) felt the necessity for a proper law on this burning issue. The United Nations Committee on Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) asked the member nations to enact a proper law for dealing with the mischief of domestic violence.

2) Need for PWDVA

7. In India, although the criminal law deals with domestic violence in the form of Section 498-A IPC, but there was no provision in the Civil Law to deal with the said problem. In order to get rid of the mischief of domestic violence, the Parliament, in its wisdom, enacted the Act, which came into force on 26 October, 2006. The Act is a social beneficial piece of legislation, which should be given as wide and as liberal an interpretation as possible.

3) Section 20- a powerful tool for ensuring gender equality in economic terms

Thus, Section 20 of the Act is meant to ameliorate the financial condition of the aggrieved person, who may suddenly find herself to be without a hearth and home. Financially, the aggrieved person may exist in a suspended animation, if she is neither supported by the husband, nor by her parents. In order to protect women from such a pergutory, Section 20 bestows a right to seek monetary relief in the form of compensation and maintenance. Section 20, thus, is a powerful tool for ensuring gender equality in economic terms. Section 20, does not contain any exception in favour of the husband. In fact, it recognises the moral and legal duty of the husband to maintain the wife.

4) “No law provides that a husband has to maintain a wife, living separately from him, irrespective of the fact whether he earns or not”– Delhi High Court. Such an  observation -clearly contrary to the provisions of law. Hence, this Court respectfully disagrees.

In an era of human rights, of gender equality, the dignity of women is unquestionable. Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India recognise the dignity of women. The Constitution empowers the Parliament to enact laws in favour of women. Flowing from the constitutional ranges, Section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 24 Hindu Marriage Act, Section 20 Domestic Violence Act, ensure that women are paid maintenance by the husband. Section 26 of the Act further lays down that the maintenance paid under the Act, would be in addition to maintenance paid under any other law being in force for the time being. Therefore, the provisions of the Act are supplementary to provisions of other law in force, which guarantee the right of maintenance to the women. Hence, the observations made by Their Lordship of Delhi High Court, in the case of Sanjay Bhardwaj, that “No law provides that a husband has to maintain a wife, living separately from him, irrespective of the fact whether he earns or not”. Such an observation is clearly contrary to the provisions of law. Hence, this Court respectfully disagrees with the opinion of Their Lordship of the Delhi High Court.

5) Sensitivity of the Judges and recognition of moral and legal duty of husband to maintain the wife.

19. The Law has always stood to favour of the women. For the Law recognises their vulnerability for survival in the cruel world. Women, being a keeper of hearth in home, need to be protected as they are the foundation of any society. If women are exposed to physical abuses, to sexual exploitation, the very foundation of the society would begin to weaken. It is only after recognising their importance, sociologically, that the ancient Indian Seers had opined that “Gods dwell only in those houses, where women are respected”. Thus, both the law and society recognise a moral and legal duty of the husband to maintain the wife

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

Gajendra Singh Vs.  Smt. Minakshi Yadav and Anr.

Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench

Date of the Judgment — 5th May 2011

Issues dealt —

  1. Reference to International Conventions and Salient features of PWDVA
  2. Continuing acts of violence/ Retrospective operation

Relevant Excerpts are as follows:

1) Reference to International Conventions and Salient features of PWDVA

The Act is a beneficial piece of legislation, which is an outcome of the Vienna Accord of 1994 and the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (1995). It is also a result of United Nations Committee on Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Undoubtedly domestic violence is being committed in India on an epidemic scale. Although the criminal law deals with domestic violence in the form of Section 498-A IPC, it was felt that there is no remedy under the civil law. Therefore, in order to get rid of the mischief of domestic violence, the Parliament, in its wisdom, enacted the Act, which came into force on 26 October, 2006. Undoubtedly the Act is meant to protect the women from domestic violence committed against them by the husband and his family members. The Act has recognised the fact that domestic violence is limited not only to physical and mental cruelty, but can also extend to verbal and emotional abuse, and even to economic abuse. The Act has recognised the fact that mental cruelty can take the form of verbal and emotional abuse, such an abuse would include threat to causing physical abuse to any person in whom the aggrieved person is 14 interested. Moreover, the Act has recognised that aggrieved person has a right to economic resources of the husband and his family members, has a right to “stridhan”, and has a right to be maintained. In case her economic rights are violated by the husband or his family members, then according to Section 3 of the Act, domestic violence is committed. Since the Act is a social beneficial piece of legislation, Section 3 of the Act must be given a liberal interpretation.

2) Continuing acts of violence/ Retrospective operation

Moreover, she has been denied her stridhan, she has been denied maintenance, she had been denied access to shared household even after October 26, 2006. Hence, civil wrongs are continuing even after the date when the Act has come into force. Therefore the question of retrospective application of the Act does not arise in the present case. After all as long as the civil wrongs are continued to be committed after 2006, the Act will control such acts of domestic violence.

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

Kaniz Fatima Vs. State of Rajasthan & Anr.

Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench

Date of the Judgment — 13th May 2011

Issues dealt —

  1. Women as Respondents

Relevant excerpts are as follows :

1) Women as Respondents:

8. Recently, the Hon’ble Apex Court in Sandhya Manoj Wankhade Vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade And Others, reported in (2011) 3 SCC 650, considered the definition of “Respondent” defined under Section 2(q) of

the Act of 2005, and held that “although section 2(q) defines a respondent to mean any adult male person, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person, the proviso widens the scope of the said definition by including a relative of the husband or male partner within the scope of a complaint. Hon’ble Apex Court further held that legislature never intended to exclude female relatives of the husband or

male partner from the ambit of complaint that can be made under the provisions of 2005 Act. It is true that expression “female” has not

been used in the proviso to Section 2(q) also, but, no restrictive meaning can be given to expression “relative” nor has said {6} expression been defined to make it specific to males only.

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

Om Prakash Vs. State of Rajasthan & Anr.

Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench

Date of Order :- April 29, 2011

Issue dealt : Continuing acts of violence/ Retrospective operation

The relevant Excerpt is as follows :

“A bare perusal of Section 3 of the Act clearly reveals that the law recognizes the right of women to the finances of the husband, as well as, economic right of having the Stridhan and the right to be maintained by the husband. In case the said right is violated as a civil wrong the Act provides a remedy to the aggrieved person. Admittedly, even after coming into force of the Act on October 26, 2006, the respondent-wife is notbeing maintained by the petitioner-husband. Therefore, she is being subjected to economic abuse. Since a civil wrong is continuously being committed after October 26, 2006, obviously the Act would apply to the petitioner. Therefore, the question of retrospective application of the Act does not even arise in the present case. ”

On the Respondents contention that he is unable to pay, the court said

“The Act does not make any exception in favour of those who are physically challenged. The Act recognizes the right of a women to be maintained even from a physically challenged husband. Therefore, the contention that merely because the petitioner-husband happens to be a physically challenged person, the Act is inapplicable to him, the said contention is unsustainable. Moreover, poverty is not a defence against the right of a woman. Therefore, the petitioner is both legally and morally bound to pay maintenance of Rs.800/- per month to the respondent-wife. Furthermore, the Act does not require that the aggrieved person must stay with the offending husband. Hence, merely because the respondent-wife is not staying with the petitioner-husband, it would not absolve the husband from his liability under the Act.

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

A.Sreenivasa Rao And Others vs The State Of A.P.,

Andhra Pradesh High court,

Date of the order : 1st April 2011

Issues dealt : 1) DV is quasi criminal proceeding

2) No jural relationship; the case under DV not maintainable.

Relevant excerpt :

1) DV is a quasi criminal proceeding

“It may be noticed that D.V.A.No.18 of 2007 itself was filed after the 1st petitioner obtained divorce from the 2nd respondent. Sri Ashish Samanth, learned Counsel for the petitioners contended that laying of D.V.C.No.18 of 2007 is tantamount to double jeopardy as the petitioners were acquitted on identical allegations in C.C.No.226 of 2003 and that the petitioners cannot be proceeded against again in D.V.A.No.18 of 2007. I do not agree with this contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner for the reason that the protection envisaged by the Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution as well as by Section 300 Cr.P.C., which is a protection against the double jeopardy would apply if both the proceedings are criminal in nature, whereas the proceedings in D.V.A.No.18 of 2007 cannot be considered to be criminal proceedings. Like proceedings

under Section 125 Cr.P.C., perhaps the proceedings under Domestic Violence Act are quasi-criminal proceedings. However, they are not criminal proceedings as such to fall within the mischief of Article 20(2) of

the Indian Constitution or under Section 300 Cr.P.C.”

2) No Jural relationship; the case not maintainable.

“At the same time, by the time the D.V.A.No.18 of 2007 was laid in 2007, the marriage between the 1st petitioner and the 2nd respondent already stood dissolved by the Family Court, Hyderabad through a decree in O.P.No.366 of 2004. When there was no jural relationship of man and his wife between the 1st petitioner and the 2nd respondent by the date of filing of D.V.A.No.18 of 2007, the case in D.V.A.No.18 of 2007 prima-facie is not maintainable. Added to it, the 2nd respondent is silent as to the dates when the alleged violations under the Domestic Violence Act have occurred. Viewed in this angle, the 2nd respondent is not

entitled to proceed against the petitioner under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.”

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

Labhubhai Babubhai Desaid V/s State of Gujrat

Gujrat High Court

Date of Judgment : 6th April 2011

Issues dealt : Interim custody of the children

Facts: Appeal against the order of interim custody of teh twin daughters in the favour of the wife .

Appeal was allowed on the ground that,” Normally, custody of the minor children should be kept with the mother as it is the mother who can take best care of the children. However, in the present case, this Court could see that the children do not have slightest love and affection towards their mother and hence, it will take much time for the children to get adjusted with mother and get proper care and attention. However, as the children are already with the father and have been taking much care and caution by the father to the utmost satisfaction of children and in the best interest of the children almost in all respects, this Court is of the view that if the custody of the children is left with the father, the children would be more happier.”

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

Eveneet Singh vs Prashant Chaudhri And Ors.

Delhi High court

Date of the Judgment :29 April, 2011

Said : Right to reside in the shared household ceases when option of Alternate accommodation becomes available as said in the judgment

Relevant excerpt :

“This Court is conscious of the further events which took place by way of an order of the Division Bench dated 11.02.2011, when Eveneet was given yet another option to move into premises leased by Prashant. Apparently, that option is still open even though she has chosen not to exercise it. Having regard to the overall circumstances, the Court clarifies that the judgment and order necessarily implied that in the event of alternative accommodation being offered “made available” to Eveneet before the concerned Court, her right to continue in the premises would cease.

9. In the light of the above clarification, the parties are relegated to the concerned Magistrate Ms. Priya Mahindra, learned MM (Saket), who is dealing with the Complaint No. 98/1. The said Court shall consider the option furnished by Prashant to Eveneet in line with this Court’s order, and make suitable orders as to whether Eveneet accepts the same or not. In the event of the Court’s determination of any premises to be appropriate or suitable, Eveneet shall be given reasonable time of two weeks to shift to the same. In the event of her failing to do so, it is open to the Defendant No. 2 to take appropriate proceedings for the implementation of the order of Court. The parties are directed to be present before the concerned Magistrate on 02.05.2011.”

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

SUPREME COURT GIVES A CLEARER MEANING TO THE TERM RESPONDENT UNDER THE PWDVA, 2005

The Supreme Court of India in a recent judgment interpreted the term ‘ respondent’ under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

  WIFE CAN STOP ERRANT HUSBAND FROM ENTERING HOME 

A wife can restrain a husband, who creates nuisance, from entering their home, irrespective of who owns the house, the Bombay high court ruled on Wednesday. The court said that every woman has right to live peacefully in her matrimonial home. “The right to reside contains within itself the right to reside peaceably and to the exclusion of the violator (husband),” observed Justice Roshan Dalvi while upholding a family court ruling restraining a Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, resident from entering his own flat.

Acting on a plea filed by his wife, the Bandra family court had earlier this year issued an interim direction to the man to move out of the family home in Beverly Hills building, and had also restrained him from creating nuisance by attempting to enter the flat.

The interim arrangement had been made to protect the woman and her children from the violent behaviour of the husband, an alcoholic, who would lose his temper and become aggressive under the influence of alcohol.

The Andheri resident had approached the high court challenging the eviction order. His counsel Uday Warunjikar primarily contended that the wife and her mother-in-law jointly owned the flat, and as the husband had ownership right over the flat, the court could not have ordered his eviction.

Justice Dalvi, however, dismissed the contention, observing that the Domestic Violence (DV) Act puts the woman’s personal rights over proprietary interest.

VIEW FULL TEXT HERE

DELHI HIGH COURT RULES ON RIGHT TO RESIDENCE

The recent judgment by Hon’ble  Justice R.  Bhat of the Delhi High Court, very effectively put the Batra v Batra judgment in the context of facts and circumstance of each case. The judgment  examines the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the right to residence succinctly yet very effectively thereby possibly ending any controversy that could arise due to the aforementioned Batra Judgment.

VIEW FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT

TRAINING OF POLICE AT Nagpur on The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005  (PWDVA) – 23 rd APRIL 2011

Lawyers Collective WRI organized their fourth police training on PWDVA in collaboration with Maharashtra Police in Nagpur on 23rd April   2011.   It was held at the Conference Hall of the Police Gymkhana and was attended by 66 participants from 23 police stations. For almost all the participants this was their first legal training of the PWDVA.

The first session was taken by Dr. Sudhir Bhave, Psychiatrist on the impact of violence on women. Commencing with the magnitude of the issue Dr Bhave   stressed upon looking at domestic violence as a social problem rather than a private affair.  Dr Bhave also elaborated upon its consequences particularly   the health impact on women including psychosomatic illnesses. He also shared its impact on children and how it affects generation after generation.  Finally he drew upon his experiences to explain why women need not stay in violent relationships for the sake of their children.

Thereafter “BOL” spots of real life experiences of women was screened followed by a discussion and session on the rationale and overview of PWDVA conducted by Ms Pouruchsiti Wadia, the Senior Research and Advocacy Officer at LCWI.  She also covered the salient features of the Act, concluding her session with the need for a multi- agency response system

Post lunch there was a discussion following the screening of the documentary Babul. Ms. Najmussahar Asadi , the Legal Officer at LCWRI conducted a session on the  role of the Police in  the various stages of the litigation, the different options that the women had for approaching the court and some procedural issues like jurisdiction, forum  etc. Short clippings on the Bell Bajao campaign were also shown post this session. Very practical questions were asked at the end of this session demonstrating that the police were  in fact implementing the Act to some extent.

The local Protection Officer Ms Sangita Domne and Service Provider Ms Deepali Deshmukh covered the concluding session on the role of different stakeholders. They expressed that they got very good cooperation from the police but due to lack of facilities they were unable to perform their duties to the  best of their abilities.

In the last session the participants held group discussions on case studies provided and presented them, demonstrating that they now had quite a good understanding of the Act. Some of the Participants expressed that the training should have extended for one more day. The post training questionnaires revealed that the training was appreciated and found to be extremely useful.

Photographs from the training can be viewed HERE

TRAINING OF POLICE AT Bhandara on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005   (PWDVA) – 21st APRIL 2011

On 21stApril 2011 the Mumbai unit of the Lawyers Collective conducted the third Police training in collaboration with the Maharashtra Police at the Police training Hall, Bhandara.  79 participants representing police stations from all over Bhandara attended the said training.

The training was inaugurated by the Additional S.P Mr. Vasant Jadhao who briefly spoke about the recently published depleting sex ratio particularly in Maharashtra and also shared some data on analysis done by his department. As per his records, in Bhandara only 3% of the cases had been disposed off under the PWDVA.

The first session on Gender based violence was conducted by Mr. Harish Sadani( Founder member -MAVA). This session gave a good background and set the stage for the days training.  The root causes of violence were covered by him after discussing gender constructs through an interactive exercise.  This was followed by screening of “Babul” and a session on the overview and rationale of the PWDVA taken by Pouruchisti Wadia (Senior Research and Advocacy Officer at LCRWRI). This session was extremely interactive and concluded with the need for a multi- agency response system to enable women live a life free from violence.

Advocate Najmussahar Asadi (Legal Officer at LCWRI) took the post lunch session on role of the police, which was preceded by screening of “Bol” spots and discussion. Advocate Manjusha Gaidhane then covered the local scenario and her positive experiences under the PWDVA. Mrunal Muneshwar the Protection Officer from Special Cell to Help Women then spoke about the role of the PO and SP and her experiences with the police in dealing with cases. This session also brought in to the open the issues of coordination between their cell and the police women’s cell and thus proved fruitful.

Case studies were circulated at the end to judge how much of the training had been absorbed and helped them to apply what they had learnt in practical life situations. The SP of Bhandara Mr. B.G Gaikar also attended the training through out the day and constantly gave his inputs. At the end of the day some of the participants came and expressed their appreciation for the training.  The post training questionnaires also revealed that they had found the training extremely useful. Though all sessions were appreciated, the session on gender based violence was commended the most.

Photographs from the training can be viewed HERE

TRAINING OF POLICE AT SANGLI ON THE PWDVA 2005 –  1ST APRIL  2011

Lawyers Collective WRI (Bombay Unit) organized their first police training on PWDVA in collaboration with Maharashtra Police in Sangli on 1st April   2011.   It was held at the Conference Hall of the Krishna Police Guest House and was attended by 93 participants from 27 police stations. For almost all the participants this was their first legal training of the PWDVA.

The first session was taken by Dr. Samir Gupte, Psychiatrist on the impact of violence. Apart from the health impact on women including psychosomatic illnesses etc, Dr Gupte also included the concept of counselling and the impact of violence on children drawing upon his experience to explain why women need not stay in violent relationships for the sake of their children.

This session was followed by the screening of the animated film titled “The impossible dream” which was followed by a discussion and session on the rationale and overview of PWDVA conducted by Pouruchsiti Wadia, the Senior Research and Advocacy Officer at LCWRi.  A lot of time was given to interact on gender issues before covering the salient features of the Act.  Some of the male participants were resistant to some of the issues and were in a denial mode but the women participants agreed wholeheartedly with what was being said and countered some of the arguments their colleagues presented. This session concluded with the need for a multi- agency response system to enable women live a life free from violence.

Post lunch after a recap of the morning session and the screening and discussion on the film “Babul”,  Najmussahar Asadi  the Legal Officer at LCWRI conducted a  session on the  role of the Police in  the various stages of the litigation, the different options that the women had for approaching the court and some procedural issues like jurisdiction, forum  etc.

The concluding session was the role of different stakeholders was covered by the local Protection Officer (Sandeep Devmore), Service Provider (Santosh Sutar) and Advocate S.M Pakhali (Legal Services Authority) and each of them talked briefly  about their role and their experiences.   This session also enabled them to clear some issues that they had with each other as regards their roles and reinforced our belief that as compared to other districts in Maharashtra which we covered, Sangli seemed to have a better referral system between the different stakeholders and they did attempt to provide an aggrieved woman with a multi-agency response. In this training the participants once again requested for a   detail list of POs which had  been circulated in the past.

Before concluding for the day case studies were read out to the participants and they responded to the questions raised. This helped us to conclude that they had indeed absorbed the inputs provided in the training.  As per our standard practice Pre training and Post training questionnaires had been distributed and in their feedback, the participants conveyed that they found the training useful. Some participants shared that according to them   the time allotted of one day was inadequate and they would have liked to have a more comprehensive training.

Lawyers Collective has planned six more Police trainings in different parts of Maharashtra and we plan to complete them in the months of April and May 2011.

Photographs from the said training can be viewed HERE

TRAINING OF POLICE ON THE PWDVA 2005 New Delhi.- 9TH APRIL 2011

Lawyers collective had organized their third police (Range) training on PWDVA in collaboration with Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Nanakpura on 9th April 2011 at NCUI Auditorium, Siri Fort Institutional Area, Khel Gaon Marg. Approximately 80 participants comprising of inspectors and sub inspectors from south, west, south-west and south-east districts had attended this training. A representative from the SPUWC (Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Nanakpura) was also present for the training.

Paroma Ray, programme officer in Lawyers Collective briefly introduced the concept of the training and gave a brief background of Lawyers Collective. This was followed by a session on the Impact of domestic Violence presided over by Khadijah, a senior member of Jagori whereshe briefly spoke about the treatment meted out to women, at this time and age in India.She laid emphasis on the need for social institutions to safeguard the interest of every individual, particularly where equal rights of women were concerned.The discussion was followed by the screening of an animated film titled “The impossible dream”.The second session was on the rationale and overview of PWDVA conducted byLiyi Marli Noshi and Supriya Yadav ofLawyers Collective. In this session we screened a music video “Babul” wherein the members of the audience were asked to identify the different forms of violence faced by the women in the video. They spoke about the Act in great detail which was followed by a quick explanation of the overview of the PWDVA. Subsequently, a session on the role of police and procedure under the PWDVA was taken by Adv.Jawahar Raja, a Delhi High Court advocate.In the first half of the session, we had screened advertisements from the Bell Bajao Campaign and briefly explained the significance and the use of the forms (Form I and II) attached to the PWDVA.A lot of queries raised by the police were answered in the second half of the session.

In the concluding session, the participants were broken into six groups and were given 6 different cases to study. They were given time to discuss the case and at the end of their allotted time; one person from each group came and gave a presentation on the assigned case.

Pre training questionnaires and Post training questionnaires were administered in the beginning and the end of the training.

TRAINING OF POLICE ON THE PWDVA 2005 New Delhi.- 26TH MARCH 2011

The Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (WRI), in collaboration with Special Police Unit for Women and Children, had organized their second Police training on 26 March 2011 (Saturday) for the Central Range of the Delhi Police. The training was held at ISI, Lodhi Road and attended by approximately 70 participants from three districts of Delhi (New Delhi, North East and East). A lot of young officers and new recruits attended this training. Several women police officers had also come for this training. All the participants said that this was their first legal training of the PWDVA. A representative from the Nanakpura Police station also attended this training and actively took part in all the sessions. The first session was conducted by two resource persons from the Center of Social Research (Niharika and Amitabh). They screened the “Impossible Dream” and kept their session very interactive. Amitabh reached out participants and managed to make the session very interactive. The participants also seemed to be more comfortable with a male resource person for this session. Niharika spoke about the inequality inherent in our society and mindsets. We had a very positive feedback from the participants about their session who were very impressed that young people were involved in such work. Over all, it was felt that the participants were not resistant to gender sessions anymore. They were aware of existing inequalities, gender stereotyping, need for laws for women and the high rate of crime against women in the city. This was followed by a session on Overview and Rationale, taken by Paroma Ray, the programme officer at LCWRI. The participants were aware of the reason behind the enactment of this law and they showed an interest in speaking about why this law should be in implemented effectively in our country. Since all the participants were being trained for the first time under the PWDVA, Paroma spoke about the Act in great detail and clarified their doubts using examples etc. Furthermore she elucidated the need for multi-agency coordination and the role of various stakeholders under the Act.

The third session was on the Role of Police and Procedure conducted by Nandita Rao. Nandita explained the role of police in great detail and her session was very well appreciated by all the participants. She clarified all the procedural doubts that the Police had regarding PWDVA, 498A IPC, 125 Cr.P.C. and other related legal provisions. Our final session was case studies where we formed 6 groups with participants and gave them 6 different case studies. One person from each group came forward to make a presentation after discussion. They identified the different types of violence, nature of relief, role of the POs and the police quite well.

Just as in the first training, pre-training questionnaires and post-training questionnaires weregiven out to all participantsin the beginning and the end to find out their existing knowledge about the Act and for assessing the impact of the sessions.

Photographs from the 2nd Training can be viewed HERE

TRAINING OF POLICE ON THE PWDVA 2005.- 19TH MARCH 2011

Lawyers Collective had organized their first police (Range) training on PWDVA in collaboration with Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Nanakpura on 19th March 2011 at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra .The training covered the Northern Range of the Delhi Police and about 65 representatives comprising of inspectors and sub inspectors from the Central district, North district, North West district and Outer district attended the said training.

To flag off the training, representatives from the SPUWC (Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Nanakpura)-ACP Laxmi and CP Sharma addressed the participants and thanked Lawyers collective for initiating the awareness programme. The training comprised of a session on the Impact of domestic Violence where an animated film titled “The impossible dream” was screened. The screening was followed by a discussion initiated by our resource person Niharika Puri from CSR.  The second session was on the rationale and overview of PWDVA conducted by Paroma Ray, the programme officer at LCWRI. In this session, we screened an advertisement from the Bell Bajao Campaign before the presentation. This was followed by a session on the role of police and procedure under the PWDVA by Adv. Pragya Raut along with our legal officer Adv. Liyi Marli Noshi. A lot of queries raised by the police were answered in this session.

In the concluding session, survivors Rashmi Anand, Farya and Priya from our Survivor Group Programme initiated by LCWRI, shared their experiences. Initially, their experiences were presented to the Police like a case study. The police were asked for their responses on the same, after which the survivors were invited to speak. The officers gave them a patient hearing and did not make any judgmental comments about the same.

Pre training questionnaires and Post training questionnaires were distributed among the participants in the beginning and the end for an assessment of the impact of the sessions. This also helped gauge existing knowledge about the Act.

In their feedback, the participants told us that they enjoyed the training and looked forward to more such sessions. They pointed out that listening to the survivors in a forum like this enabled them to think from the point of view of the victim. They also found the rationale and overview session very useful.

It must also be pointed out that Lawyers Collective shall further be conducting two more trainings for the police on the 26th of March 2011 and the 9th of April 2011.

Photographs from the Training can be viewed HERE

[catlist name="Sexual Violence"]