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Call for law on live-in abuse

New Delhi, March 16: Victims of violence in live-in relationships may soon have some protection if the suggestion offered by social workers is accepted.

A document released at a two-day conference — organised jointly by the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, and the Indian Social Institute here — says the draft Bill against domestic violence “is very limited in scope and leaves out certain categories of women”.

The document recommended the Bill should cover “children who are victims of domestic violence, all women whether they are civil or religiously married to the abuser, whether they live, have lived or have never lived with the abuser”.

Earlier, the National Commission for Women and the Lawyers’ Collective had submitted drafts for the proposed Bill, with the latter recommending inclusion of live-in relationships.

The document released today defines interpersonal relationship as one “between two persons who live, had lived or been residing at any point in family or shared household”. The interpersonal relationship, it says, should also include two persons related by consanguinity, employment, marriage or a relationship, adoption or family members living together as joint family.

The law ministry had struck down the suggestion on live-in relationships, saying Indian culture did not permit them.

At today’s conference, the draft Bill came in for criticism for being “seriously flawed in most of its aspects as it falls short of India’s obligation under international human rights law and fails to provide effective remedies to victims of domestic violence”.

Participants felt the Bill would prove counter-productive for women’s status in society because the definition of domestic violence was “grossly inadequate”.

It “must cover any conduct, whether actual or threatened, that causes the victim to fear or be apprehensive for personal safety”, the document says.

A team from the workshop met minister of state for social justice and empowerment Sanjay Paswan and apprised him of the concerns over the draft Bill.

A team member, Ravinder Joshi, who is adviser to the International Court of Justice, said the activists would pursue the matter with other Central ministers and at various other levels.

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