The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Haryana plans law to check domestic violence

Chandigarh, Jan. 8: Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala today said a law to check domestic violence would be enacted soon.

The law was needed because domestic violence had a direct bearing on society’s development, he said. Chautala was inaugurating a one-day seminar on “Domestic Violence -- Dimensions, Implications and Legal Contours” here today.

He said a Bill would be introduced in the Assembly’s next session. According to Chautala, not only women, but even the aged, children and servants were subject to disrespect and domestic violence.

A woman’s commission has already been set up to protect women’s rights, he said, and several schemes to enhance their social status as also that of the aged have been implemented.

Shankar Sen, director of the Delhi-based Institute of Social Sciences, said in his key note address that domestic violence was not confined to any country or class.

The head of the family often got violent with children and women to establish his authority in the family. Sen cited a World Health Organisation report, based on 1997 data, that showed 20-50 per cent of the women sampled reported abuse by their partners.

Domestic violence against women was hampering economic growth, he said. Both cow and woman, Sen said, are worshipped and worked to death.

According to Sen, the rate of abuse of Indian women was high. A study conducted in five districts of Uttar Pradesh had revealed that 18-45 per cent of married men physically abused their wives. Another study conducted in 1989 showed that one of four dowry victims was driven to suicide.

The World Conference on Human Rights organised in Vienna in 1998 had condemned gender-based violence and all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation. The conference had concluded that human rights of women and the girl child were an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.

Sen emphasised the need for action-oriented policies to check domestic violence. The social evil should be checked with a multi-pronged strategy.

First, a database should be created to understand the problem’s magnitude. Women should be taught their rights and told about the various agencies which protect their rights, Sen said. The police and the judiciary, too, should be sensitised.

Other than a comprehensive law to check such violence, remedies for and compensation to the victims should be introduced, Sen said. Domestic violence affects children psychologically, he said.

According to Sen, most of the women’s police stations were confined to the urban areas. These should be set up in villages, too, he said. A system to follow up and monitor cases of domestic violence should be put in place. Sen emphasised the need for sensible use of Indian Penal Code’s Section 498 A, that labels domestic violence a cognisable offence and allows for the arrest of the accused without a warrant.

Earlier, state director-general of police M.S. Malik said like charity, violence, too, began at home. Haryana police, he said, had introduced a village adoption scheme to check domestic violence. This scheme allows for policewomen to counsel aggrieved families at their homes.

Chautala took the opportunity to release a book on human rights and police. Several senior police and civil officers, legal luminaries and social scientists from across the country participated in the seminar.

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