What’s currently being neglected

  • Education: The PWDVA is one of the few laws that require the State to spread awareness about the law and train enforcement agencies. Police and POs also have a duty to inform women of their rights under the Act. However currently there is a focus on victim support and legal support, and less focus on awareness-raising.
  • Training: Lack of training of police and magistrates means women still face victimisation and mistreatment at the hands of the justice system. Police officers may claim they are unaware of the Act’s existence, or may claim the women are simply facing domestic disputes. Magistrates similarly were known to prolong court processes and were reluctant to give permanent orders as opposed to interim relief.
  • Service Provision: Very few NGOs have registered themselves as service providers; those that have often have a lack of experience, a problem which also affects hinders the effectiveness of Protection Officers.
  • Awareness: There is a lack of awareness about the Act and the roles of each actor related to it. For example medical facilities can register Domestic Incident Reports (DIRs) and forward a copy to Protection Officers, but rarely do. Many Protection Officers also have a misunderstanding of the Act, wanting to settle many cases through counselling and not using designated Service Providers. Protection Officers appear to be similarly confused about the nature of complaints and DIRs, which is not helped by the fact that there is a lack of uniformity between States on what a ‘complaint’ is. Furthermore, in Madhya Pradesh where the highest numbers of complaints were recorded (9654 between August ‘09 and June ’10), DIRs were only filed in about half of these cases.
  • Women’s Awareness: A lack of awareness amongst women means that even in States with high numbers of Protection Officers there are not corresponding high levels of complaints, as women still are unaware that POs exist.