Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Protection officers missing for women's safety

Women have not benefited from the passing of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005, as there are not enough officers to deal with the complaints.

The act was promulgated to provide immediate relief to women in distress, and protection officers were to be appointed to deal with complaints.

The government, through an order dated December, 19, 2006, appointed one protection officer for each district to take care of complainants. Instead of creating new posts, the district social welfare officers (DSWO) were given the additional charge of protection officers. The order added that this was a temporary arrangement as per Section 8 of the act and rules. This 'stop gap' arrangement continued for over one year and the DSWOs - already burdened with many responsibilities - hardly had time to look into the complaints filed under the PWDVA.

"DSWOs hold so many responsibilities and designating them protection officers defeated the purpose of the law. We received many complaints but never could really act on them," one DSWO told The Times Of India. The DSWOs according to social welfare department sources, have a minimum of 18 other responsibilities, including preparing as many as 15 monthly reports on several projects and institutions in the districts.

Moreover, the protection officers were not given proper powers to resolve the issue raised by the complainant. "As per the present situation, we cannot go and investigate the case of the complainant. The persons involved in the case refuse to respond to the protection officers. So invariably we have to take the help of police. They have their own priorities and often refuse to co-operate. We have been told that the police have no orders to help us investigate PWDVA cases," the officer said. She said the protection officers also could only provide immediate but temporary relief for aggrieved woman. "Each district has service providers, basically NGOs, which provide counselling, an alternative living space and medical assistance. But if the NGOs appointed are not genuine, the victim will be put to greater hardship," the official said.

The DSWOs say that unless each block in the districts have one protection officer, a separate office, and proper orders to work with the police, the purpose of the act would not be served.

K Manivasan, director, social welfare department, told The Times Of India that the government would appoint protection officers in all districts along with joint assistants. "Each district will have one protection officer and one joint assistant. We have taken the list from the employment exchange and the appointments will be done in one month's time. We will also provide one computer for the officers. But they will work from the social welfare department only," he said.

By Praveen Kumar


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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