On 31st January, Centre for Social Research, in association with The Asia Foundation, hosted a National Level Round-table Conference on Status of Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act (2005).
In partnership with The Asia Foundation, CSR has been working towards making a safer space for women not only in public spaces but within their homes too. In the undertaking of this formidable goal, we have taken to discussing and actively participating in advocating the Act for women to learn and know their rights.
After the lighting of the lamp by our Director Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Special Address – Smt. Yashodhara Pradhan (National Commission for Women), followed by a keynote address by Dr Kumari. This was followed by a presentation on the current status of PWDVA, by CSR project coordinator Suhasini Mukherjee, who discussed common myths as well as key statistics concerning PWDVA. She also talked about the backlash and criticisms faced by activists who deal with domestic violence cases. Following this, Ms Tanushree Soni spoke about her experience of learning from Project Wajood, wherein she discussed addressing domestic violence in Delhi and strengthening gender based violence support services. One key point which she mentioned is that empowerment of community members is key to dealing with domestic violence.
The first session was on the Role of Stakeholders – Judiciary, Women Agencies, Police, Doctors and Social Scientists, and their Strengthening. The panel of Experts – Adv. Abha Singhal Joshi (Facilitator) (Supreme Court, legal advisor for Aap Ki Kutcheri), Dr. Anjali Mehta (Justice Seekers), Ms. Padmini Kumar (Joint Women’s Program,) and Mr. Soumya Bhaumik (Lawyer), along with Ms. Shreya Arora (Secretary of Delhi Legal Services Authority), englightened the audiences with an insight into how the medico-legal process works and how stakeholders are involved in the process of identifying and resolving cases of domestic violence. They discussed unwillingness of doctors and lawyers to get involved in domestic violence cases, and how more awareness regarding the law and its provisions can minimize this discomfort. Ms Shreya Arora discussed aspects of victim safety, and how women lack confidence in support systems, leading to under reporting of domestic violence cases. This was followed by an interactive discussion with participants regarding the falling short of various peripheral and core systems when dealing with domestic violence cases.
Post this session 2 began. Titled ‘Engagement of Men and Boys in advocacy of Domestic Violence’, this panel consisted of Ms. Shalini Mittal (Justice Seekers, Nable), Ms. Bijayalaxmi Nanda (Academician, Researcher, teaching Political Sc. in Miranda House), Dr. Pamela Singla (Professor, Delhi School of Social Work), Brinda Adige (Facilitator) (Director, Global Concerns India), Dr. Babli Moita Saraf (Principal, Indraprastha College). Some points brought up in this session were how domestic violence has a deep impact on children and other family members, and how the blame game must be curbed. Ms Shalini Mittal said that the act must be changed to Protection of ‘People’ against Domestic Violence, rather than women.
The final session on the ‘Role of Advocacy Group’, comprised of Ms. Ranu Bhogal (Director- Policy Research & Campaigns, Oxfam India), Ms. Bulbul Dhar (Faculty at Political Science Department, Jamia Milia Islamia), Ms. Renu Thakur (Arpan Askot), Ms. Gayatri Sharma (Women Power Connect) and Ms. Juthika Banerjee (Facilitator) (Director, CSR). One key point of this discussion was that state governments must step up when dealing with domestic violence, and also the implementation of the PWDVA.
The conference yielded a wonderful response and we are thankful to all our participants and panelists for such a fruitful interaction.