The Women’s Court (NA) hears on average over a hundred cases a year, taking on about 95% of the cases referred to them. Most cases have 4-6 hearings, each typically spaced 2 weeks apart, with a consensual decision arrived at the end of this period in 70-80% of the cases. For instance, from April 2011- March 2012, the NA took up a total of 64 new cases, held 197 hearings, and went on 56 fact-finding missions. Approximately 75% of these cases had consent-based resolutions notarized on stamp paper.
In an interesting (though not holistic) comparison, 1200 cases of domestic violence were reported to the Ahmadabad Metropolitan Court in the period from 2006-2010; the court has so far given judgment on 200, or 16%. The 2006 National Family Health Survey found that 51% of Indian men admitted to beating their wives for any of the following reasons: going out without notification, neglecting the house or children, arguing, refusing sexual intercourse, bad cooking, suspecting infidelity, or disrespecting in – laws. Comparatively, 74% of Gujarati men have justified these as reasons for domestic violence towards a spouse.
This is the current legislation that deals with gender and violence in India:
- Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 1983: created provisions wherein cruelty to the wife was made a cognizable offense as committed by the husband or his relatives.
- The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act 1984: created provisions that persecuted the husband or other relatives if the wife was burned or died due to other forms of injuries within seven years of marriage
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2006: First law specifically against domestic violence and based on civil jurisprudence.
We spoke to a law firm that specializes in family law looking for their take and insight. According them, these legal instruments contain various gaps and loopholes. For instance, the focus on dowry related violence and death had been rather narrow, for it ended up distracting from the other numerous instances of violence those women faced within their homes, which were not necessarily dowry related. Furthermore, only married women facing violence at the hands of the husband or their families could claim relief under the respective legislation, thus, violence faced by unmarried women, old women and children could not be brought under these laws.
In the upcoming posts, I will talk about some non-NA issues, including Advocacy Quilting with artisans from the Schedule Tribe rathwa community in Chottaudepur, as well as information on our attempts to help Vikalp fund an emergency shelter for victims of sexual abuse.
Posted By Jasveen Bindra (India)
Posted Jul 8th, 2013