Of unheard voices, untold agonies

WITNESSES: The audience at the ‘court’ organised by NGOs in Mangalore on Sunday.

WITNESSES: The audience at the ‘court’ organised by NGOs in Mangalore on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: R. Eswarraj

Staff Correspondent

Most problems raised in the ‘court of women’ relate to harassment by spouses

Women’s police station is essential in villages: adjudicator

‘For welfare of women, a good society is needed, not just a good law’

MANGALORE: A unique programme, “Court of women”, was organised by women and human rights organisations here on Sunday. It was meant to provide a platform for women to voice their problems and search for ways to address them.

Nagarika Seva Trust of Guruvayankere, Sanjivini Trust of Kinnigoli, Shubhada Samsthe of Suralpady, and Preeti Neeti Trust and Hongirana Network of Mangalore, had joined hands with some women activists to organise the programme.

Seven women narrated their stories of agony to Nataraj Huliyar, Reader, Kannada Adhyayana Kendra, Bangalore, and Rati Rao of Samata Vedike of Mysore, who were the judges in the programme, held at Ravindra Kalabhavan at the University College. Most of the problems raised during the “court hearing” related to domestic violence and harassment.

A woman, seeking anonymity, unfolded her story of having been married to a man, who was averse to work. He would harass her for money. She was forced to open a tailoring shop for making a living, which was set on fire by her spouse. When a case was filed against her spouse, she was harassed by the police too. She was asked by the police why she was lodging a complaint against her husband. She was called a “prostitute” by the police and her husband. Even the police woman, she said, advised her to be patient “as a woman”. Then, she wanted to know from the audience how could someone be patient while getting traumatised. She said: “At a later stage, I was being harassed more by the police than the husband.”

The problem told by another woman complainant also related to husband’s refusal to work. When she started constructing a house with her earnings, the husband wanted the record of rights of the house to be in his name. When she refused to dance to his tunes, he attempted to kill her but failed. The audience were moved by the way she described the manner in which she was attacked by her spouse with a sickle. She did complain against her spouse but could not get justice.

Mr. Nataraj Huliyar, while passing his judgement, said: “A women’s police station is more required in villages than in cities.” Referring women with derogatory words such as prostitute must be considered as an offence, he added. Inaugurating the programme, K.N. Phanindra, Udupi District Judge, said that in courts the law might become a hurdle in giving judgments on compassionate grounds. “For the welfare of women, a good society is required and not a good law. The barrier in the legal set up,” he said.

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