Domestic violence is a universal phenomenon. It happens in military families of all ranks and ages due to the extremely stressful army lives which could cause serious tensions in the families and increase the risk of domestic violence and impact not only the general health but also the sexual and reproductive health of the wives. A seminar on ‘Domestic Violence and its impact on the health and well-being of the families of the Uniformed Personnel’ was recently organised by Maitri — an NGO which works for the uniformed personnel and their families through its project ‘Samvedana’.

Spreading awareness

The project aims to spread knowledge about HIV AIDS, Women and Child care apart from domestic violence. The seminar looked at formulating a support and action mechanism for the victims and their families.

“Building systems of support for the families, as this conference is focused on, is in my mind, exactly the right concept,” said Winnie Singh, Executive Director, Maitri. It has been founded by Lt. Gen. Bhopinder Singh, former Director General, Assam Rifles (the oldest paramilitary organization in India), and his wife Winnie Singh. Having been part of armed forces for so long, it was natural for the couple to understand the problems of uniformed families and thus they decided to work for the cause.

Former supercop and social activist Kiran Bedi read out excerpts from ‘Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative — Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005’. “Domestic relationships are not restricted to the marital context so if a mother wants to complain against an abusive son, she can do it under this law,” said Bedi. She, further, emphasised, “This is India’s first law that recognizes live-in relationships under domestic violence.”

Maitri’s Project ‘Samvedana’ intends to understand the various forms of domestic violence, especially in uniformed families. The project focuses on what instigates violent behaviour in the uniformed personnel and assures that the complaints of the wives or other members of their families would not affect the professional life of the officer concerned.

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