While studies claim that one Indian woman in every two is subjected to domestic violence, victims complaining about it are way too few. Though official attitude is partly to be blamed, lack of awareness among the victims contributes more to the failure of the DV Act. The Act, in fact, stipulates that the government should give wide publicity to its provisions through various media at regular intervals.

As per the provisions, a victim of domestic violence can approach the District Project Director, Women and Child Development, or the Revenue Divisional Officer concerned, or the notified Service Provider (NGO), or the police, or even the magistrate directly. It is the duty of the officials to make the victim aware of the legal recourse and entitlements, and provide her free legal aid. She may be accommodated in a shelter home if she so wishes.

The Protection Officer(PO), be it the PD or the RDO, should record the complaint in the format of a Domestic Incident Report (DIR) and forward it to the magistrate. A copy of the DIR should also be forwarded to the police officer in charge of the jurisdiction concerned. If the victim approaches a Service Provider, the latter may file a DIR and send a copy to the PO. However, all this can be done only if the woman in question desires so.

In case a victim wishes to continue to live in her marital home, the magistrate may give a Residence Order, which protects her right to stay in the shared household or in an alternative accommodation to be arranged by her husband or male partner.

A Protection Order by the magistrate will prevent the accused from perpetrating further violence, and from disposing of her property. A Monetary Relief Order will ensure reimbursement of medical expenses, and maintenance for the victim and her children, while a Custody Order will restore the children to the victim.

A Compensation Order can be given against the physical and mental injury and pain caused by domestic violence, and the loss of wages suffered thereof by the victim. The magistrate also has the authority to issue interim reliefs to protect the victim and her property.

If the orders are violated by the perpetrator, he will be forced to pay a fine of up to Rs.20,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year.

V.S.K.

* Victims of domestic violence in the twin cities may call the Protection Officer at 040-23202355 or 9440814531. Those in Ranga Reddy district may call 040-23240023 or 9440814537

* For guidance, they may also dial the toll-free helpline by Bhumika Women’s Collective at 1800 425 2908

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