NEW DELHI: An NGO ‘We the Women of India” has moved the Supreme Court seeking to plug massive gaps in infrastructure under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act across the country for providing effective legal aid to females abused in matrimonial homes and creating shelter homes for them post lodging of complaints against husbands and inlaws.
The unregistered organisation in its PIL, filed through advocate Shobha Gupta, said domestic violence continues to be the most common crime against females in India despite the DV Act coming into force more than 15 years back. “As per the National Crime Records Bureau) report for the year 2019, out of 4.05 lakh reported cases categorised under ‘crimes against women’, over 30% were domestic violence cases,” it said.
Terming this alarming figure as just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, the NGO said in general, Indian women refrain from complaining about the violence they routinely face at matrimonial homes in fear of loss of reputation of the family, the ensuing social stigma and also because of lack of awareness about the provisions of law and the remedies provided thereunder.
Quoting National Family Health Survey, the PIL petitioner said “about 86% of the women victims of domestic violence never seek help, which means only 14% scout for help and a meagre 7% of them reach out to the relevant authorities under the DV Act.”
Making the Union government, all states and UTs parties in the PIL, the NGO requested the SC to direct all authorities, mandated to implement the DV Act in letter and spirit, for appointment of Protection Officers, enumeration of Service Providers (legal aid) and Shelter Homes as mandated under the law enacted to protect women from domestic violence.
DV Act, 2005, which came into force in October 2006, provides for ‘network assistance’ to help women abused in matrimonial homes to seek advice, raise grievances, file complaints and pursue their remedies, including attending the magistrate’s court. The Act also mandates the governments to set up shelter homes for those women who fear for their safety at matrimonial homes.
The petitioner complained that most states sorely lack in providing these infrastructural assistance to women in distress. “Domestic violence is a societal issue and it requires dedicated awareness campaigns through various modes as was done through campaigns like ‘Swacch Bharat’, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, injurious effects of tobacco etc,” it said.
The NGO said that most state websites do not list out protection officers, service providers and shelter homes, thus making it difficult for the distressed women to take protection under the DV Act.

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