The Telegraph
Saturday , February 11 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hopeline for abuse victims

Jorhat, Feb. 10: More than five years after the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, came into force in the country (except Jammu and Kashmir), the state government has woken up to total implementation of the act by constituting domestic violence service providers’ committees in every district this month on a directive of the director, social welfare department, Guwahati.

Secretary of the Jorhat district committee Biren Baruah said the committee would support registered service provider Hopeline, an NGO involved in various welfare works in the district.

“In many cases it is seen that in domestic violence cases, a reconciliation can be brought about without arrests. In many instances, especially of sexual harassment, many victims also need to be counselled to summon courage and come out and speak against their oppressors. Our work will be to listen to complaints and then advise the aggrieved to move court or attempt a rapprochement,” Baruah said.

“Some cases can be very complicated like a mother-in-law being beaten up by her daughter-in-law and she receives a slap from her husband. In this case, the husband when he sees his mother being beaten up might naturally defend his mother by hitting out at his wife. The wife has filed a complaint against the husband under the Domestic Violence Act. In such cases normally counselling is suggested,” he said.

Earlier, the government appointed social welfare officers of the district to listen to the complaints.

Domestic Violence Act, 2005, aims at protecting women — be it the wife or female live-in partner from violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives.

“The law also extends its protection to sisters, widows, mothers and child, may it be adopted, step, foster or minor child.”

Mitali Phukan, member of the committee and Hopeline, said their organisation had been registered as a service provider in 2009 but with the constitution of the committee they were now empowered to counsel and carry out awareness campaigns by the government. “In the last three years, however, we have done some counselling, the cases dealt with mostly related to discord between husband and wife,” Phukan said.

“There was a case where a woman had turned out her adopted daughter of 22 years after her husband died as the daughter was standing in the way of her getting married again. In another district, a case has come up where a brother and sister were in an incestuous relationship but the girl was scared to come out and speak up against her brother for fear of stigma,” Phukan said.

The Jorhat district service providers committee comprised Biren Baruah as vice-chairman, Rajkumar Ajit Narayan Singha, head of Hopeline and an executive member of the committee, sub-divisional judicial magistrate Mallika Dutta, district social welfare officer Nirada Deori, and superintendent of police Sanjukta Parasor.