Violence Against Women Webinar with One Stop Centre Sabarkantha on 12 August, 2020

Asmaben Mansuri and her team at the One Stop Centre (OSC), Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha joined PEC for webinar training on Violence Against Women. The OSC was set up in 2017 for women to get advice and support, with Police and Legal Services as well. This centre in Himmatnagar (Sabarkantha) provides short term stay for women up to 5 days and is open 24 hours a day. Asmaben gave everyone information about the One Stop Centres and how they can access these centres through the 181 helpline, police, shelter managers or counsellors.

They invited Prita Jha to facilitate a session on Violence Against Women and how their direct work with women experiencing these issues could be further enhanced with training on the law and legal processes.

PEC & Advocates introduction by Prita Jha.

Advocate Amrita Patel defined the important concepts of the legislation who can be the “aggrieved person” or complainant– any women (can be wife, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law in a “domestic relationship” with the respondent. She explained the wide and exhaustive definition of what constitutes “Domestic Violence” .

Amrita also talked about the infrastructure available to support the survivor and the role of Protection Officers was discussed as well as the remedies available under the Act.

Advocate Nazmaben Pathan spoke of section 498 A and issues with Police in reporting cases due to “breaking up the marriage”. If Police do not take the report or complaint, an individual can raise a private complaint directly at the Magistrates Court and then they raise an Order for Police to investigate and submit that report to the Court. It is however more time efficient to be able to report directly at a Police Station.

Questions often arise as to which Police Station can it be reported at? Can be either in village where their marital home was, or can go to any local station. Duty of Police to arrange hospital examination if injuries are visible so that this can be used as evidence.

Witnesses – neighbors do not tend to get involved but we should raise awareness and try to ensure that witnesses do come forward to give evidence in cases of domestic violence.

Prita Jha gave brief overview of the changes brought in the law on sexual offences by the Criminal Amendment Act 2013. She talked about the change in definition of rape, change in definition of consent and the fixing of minimum sentences for various offences. She talked about the accountability measures under 166 A and 166B of the IPC.

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