Referring to the West Bengal’s poor track record in keeping cases of domestic violence under check despite National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) data giving the state top slot for seven consecutive years, non-governmental organisations Wednesday said the state’s lack of involvement in making people aware of their rights granted under the 2005 Act was keeping several victims from speaking out.
At a press conference to mark the 10th year of the enactment of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, lawyer and founder of NGO Sutanutir Sakhya, Madhuparna Ghosh said, “The state government has not taken up any programme to educate the people and spread awareness among them regarding the Act. Even the protection officers are so few in numbers (24 for the entire state) that most of the time, complainants and victims are unable to contact them at times of need. Not only that, there is a severe lack of clarity among these officers regarding the Act.”
Anuradha Kapoor, director of NGO Swayam, highlighted the NCRB’s data, released earlier this year, according to which Bengal had reported the maximum number of cases of domestic violence (11.3 per cent) in the country in 2014. This trend, as the data suggest, has continued for the past seven years.
A delegation of social activists had earlier met Shashi Panja, Minister of State for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, and discussed the matter at length.
“We presented a list of suggestions such as increasing the number of protection officers, aiding them with proper infrastructure and manpower, training officials on the Domestic Violence Act and holding seminars to spread awareness,” said lawyer Abhijit Dutta. The minister, he said, had “assured us that the matter will be looked into”.