Special Correspondent

  • Protection officers yet to be appointed: Donna Fernandes
  • `It's an important symbolic piece of legislation'

    Bangalore: There is lack of political will to allocate money and create infrastructure necessary to make The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) work, Donna Fernandes of Vimochana has said.

    Speaking at a discussion on the Act organised by Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), she said that protection officers, who played a key role in implementing the legislation, were not yet appointed in Karnataka.

    The Government proposed to appoint as protection officers, officials who were already overburdened. "This amounts to defeating the purpose of the Act," she said. Rather than putting all their faith in the new piece of legislation, women's groups should treat it as "one tool" that might help their cause, said Ms. Fernandes.

    Arati Mundkur of Alternative Law Forum argued that the implementation of the law might not entirely hinge on the appointment of protection officers.

    It was an important symbolic piece of legislation because it was the State's first ever recognition of the phenomenon of domestic violence.

    It was a civil law that defined violence against women in a broader way, she said. Uttara Vidyasagar of Viveka Counselling Centre said that women often did not realise that they were in an abusive relationship.

    A counsellor's job was then to stop the woman from blaming herself for all that went wrong in a relationship. Asha Ramesh, an activist, said that violence on a girl began in the womb in the form of sex selection and continued through her life in many forms.

    Ammu Joseph, columnist, who moderated the discussion, said that according to an International Centre for Research on Women survey, 50 per cent of women faced violence. She said she had noticed a positive trend in media's attention to issues of sexism and violence.