Once the brouhaha over the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act gets over, the new law may remain a paper tiger like the Dowry Prohibition Act.
Years after the Dowry Prohibition Act was enforced only a very few prohibition officers have been appointed by the state governments.
According to Women and Child Development ministry official, the Dowry Act has failed to check the rising cases of dowry as the important enforcement mechanism in the law, the prohibition officers, have not been appointed.
"In their absence most police officers are not even aware about the dowry law," an official commented.
The same danger looms large over Domestic Violence Act. As per the rules notified, the onus of appointing protection officers lies with the state governments and the Centre has no role to play.
"We are not providing any sort of financial assistance to states to appoint protection officers. It is for them to decide whether they want to give some honorarium to the officers or not," a senior official said.
With the Centre’s involvement in enforcement of the law weak, the officials said the ball is now in the court of state governments.
"If they are willing they can enforce the law or they can allow it to remain on paper. They will have to spare money if they are serious about the new law," the official said.
In a bid to provide alternative to protection officers, the rules allow the service providers (NGOs) to forward a victim’s complaint to the magistrate.
"The magistrate will investigate and decide on the complaint," an official said. However, like protection officers the service providers will not have the state government’s accreditation. But the rules provide that they can take care and provide shelter to the victims.
To make finding protection officers an easier job, the government has allowed appointment of school teachers, women in Panchayati Raj bodies, district level officials or any other person as officers for enforcing the law.
So far, none of the state governments has informed the Centre of preparing a list of protection officers to enforce the Act. However, WCD officials are optimistic.
"Today is the first day. We should give some more time to the states to implement the law. We will call a meeting of state governments official as a follow-up action," an official said.
Responding to the HT report, Manisha Bhatia, a research scholar said, successful implementation of the law remains a question mark.
"Many women like me would want an assurance regarding the proper implementation of the Act. Sensitisation of police officers is not enough we need more stringent representatives to implement this Act," she said.
Another victim of domestic violence Sanchi Monga wanted that a time frame should be given to magistrates to decide on domestic violence cases.
Different women organisations have also demanded immediate appointment of protection officers, a key link for implementation of the law.
Centre for Social Research and All India Women Conference on Thursday demanded that the Centre should give money to construct more shelter homes for women, to launch a mass awareness campaign and to create confidence-building measures among the silent victims.
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