Report of the gender training workshop with BMMA on 2nd July 2011
Trainer: Irfan Engineer
In this session of the training, besides briefly recalling on the earlier sessions, some practical issues of domestic violence were discussed as experienced by the activists of BMMA as it came to their knowledge from various cases of counseling held by them. The root of violence was identified during the discussion to be asymmetry of power distribution and powerlessness of women. Thereafter, briefly, provisions of Domestic Violence Act were discussed.
Discussion on the legislation that followed presentation of the legislation: Though the legislation created duties in the Protection Officers to act effectively in situation of domestic violence and afford protection to the survivors of domestic violence, the participants pointed out the flaws in the legislation and their experiences with it which are briefly as follows:
1) The police officers pretended to be not aware of the provisions of the DV Act and never helped; they were as indifferent as if there was no such legislation
2) There were far less numbers of protection officers appointed under the act, and to be able to trace out one for a survivor of domestic violence was an ordeal and no one helped. The Protection Officers were miles away from the residence of the survivors in most cases and were of little help. They had to be chased and motivated and persuaded a lot to make them intervene and even then never intervened effectively.
3) Judges were burdened with cases and were not in a position to dispose off the cases of domestic violence within a period of thirty days as mandated by the DV Act.
4) The Government passed the legislation without creating adequate infrastructure for its implementation. In fact there seemed no will on the part of the Government to implement the Act in all earnestness
5) The machinery supposed to implement the Act was as much influenced by the patriarchal values as anyone else and they could be hardly made to understand the perspective and pain of the survivors except in the extreme cases of violence.
6) One of the participant said her application for maintenance was pending for two years and no orders were passed, but she get a temporary relief in as much as she continues to stay in her matrimonial home while her husband has to be out of it.
7) The structures that produce violence – viz. asymmetry of power distribution and dependency of women on male relatives, discrimination, privileging of male relatives by traditions, etc. are intact and not touched by the DV Act. The Act then only aims to fight the symptoms and manifestations leaving the systems, violent attitudes, and structures that produce violence intact. Can it be possible deal with the manifestations of the systems that produce violence leaving the structures that produce violence intact?