Realising that the most vulnerable section of women often cannot reach the state women commission in Mumbai, the government has initiated an ‘at your door’ campaign to reach out to various districts and allow women to file complaints of domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking, abuse which will be tackled in a single-day hearing near their home.
On August 19, Women and Child Development (WCD) district officer, women commission chairperson, district police, lawyers and counsellors attended 60 complaints in a single hearing in Kolhapur from four districts— Satara, Sangli, Solapur, and Kolhapur. Of these, at least 25 were fresh complaints that women had filed on the spot.
“Going to home districts of complainants ensures each party is available. Not every one can travel long distances to Mumbai for multiple hearings. Some times, in the absence of one party, the case is delayed,” said Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Women.
In Kolhapur, the commission was able to resolve four complaints, where couples wanted a divorce and had approached the panel for it. Counselors took intensive sessions on Saturday to help the four couples reconcile. In other cases, officials said, the complaints had come against police inaction towards complaints of women and of domestic violence.
“Notices and orders have been issued in 56 cases and legal aid has been given in cases where it was needed. Some cases may be taken up for further hearing,” an official from Maharashtra State Commission for Women said.
On Tuesday, another hearing is scheduled in Pune where 38 complaints registered with the commission will be heard. In Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Solapur, 1,500 government officials have been trained under a program called People United Against Sexual Harassment (PUSH) to understand the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act and role of internal complaint committee in a corporate hierarchy.