Evaluating India's Domestic Violence Law
Monday, January 4, 2010 1:25 PM

4 January 2010

Recent evaluations of India’s 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) by the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI), the National Commission for Women (NCW), and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, and a survey conducted by the National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3) show that while some progress has been made in increasing awareness of domestic violence issues and utilization of PWDVA in India, questions remain about the overall efficacy of the act. 

While survey data and statistics on the number of cases filed under PWDVA have been encouraging and suggest increased awareness of the protection provided by the act among local women, the Third Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2009 highlighted a need for education and training for agencies within the judicial process, including protection officers and police personnel.  Survey data showed highly ambivalent attitudes towards women in domestic abuse situations, including an estimated 30.4 percent of police personnel in Rajasthan who believe that “women deserve to be beaten in certain situations” (WFS). Reports have also surfaced from women who believe their PWDVA cases have been “spoiled” by police officers who took bribes or met with their husbands.

The need for education regarding women’s rights and the protections provided by PWDVA among these enforcement and protection agencies is heightened by the widespread nature of domestic abuse in India and its traditional acceptance by large portions of the population.  As a result, women activists continue to call for proper budgetary allocations to support further implementation of and education regarding the PWDVA, and it is hoped that this will lead to an increased understanding of the unacceptability of domestic violence at every level of Indian society.

Compiled from: Women’s Feature Service, “Domestic Violence: Making the Law Work” (WFS Ref: INDIB16W) (December 2009); Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative, "Staying Alive: Third Monitoring and Evaluation Report on the Protection of Women from Domestic VIolence Act" (July 2009)