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Implementation of domestic violence and dowry-related violence laws

  • A number of provisions are vital to the implementation of a new domestic violence and dowry related violence law and should be included in legislation. (See: Implementation of Laws on Violence against Women and Girls)
  • Legislation should require regular training for police, judicial officials, service providers. Registrars, and protection units who implement the law. (See: UN Handbook 3.2.3; and UN Model Framework VII C, D, and E) Trainings should be standardized at the national level and created in consultation with or by advocates and NGOs working on domestic violence and dowry issues.

 

Examples:

Law of India

The Central Government and every State Government, shall take all measures to insure that the Central Government and State Government officers including the police officers and the members of the judicial services are given periodic sensitization and awareness training on the issues addressed by [The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act]. Ch III, 11 (b)

Bangladesh

 The Chittagong Port Authority offers a course on social awareness of dowry for port officials. The one-day training addresses topics, such as:

  • Origin of Dowry system.
  • Dowry system - a deep rooted social custom which is a crime against humanity.
  • Direct Victims of Dowry system.
  • Dowry system - a menace in the society.
  • The evils of Dowry system.
  • Protest against Dowry system.
  • Remedies of Dowry system:
    • Extension of Female Education.     
    • Implementation of Laws promulgated by the Govt.  
    • Role of media.  
    • Alleviation of poverty is the precondition to the permanent solution of the dowry system.
Example: The law of Brazil requires “permanent trainings” of law enforcement and judiciary officials not only on gender issues, but also on race and ethnicity issues. (Article 8)
  • Legislation should name a state body as responsible for implementing the domestic and/or dowry-related violence law and a separate state body as responsible for monitoring the law. For specific recommendations, see UN Handbook 3.3; and the sections on Implementation of Legislation on Violence against Women and Girls and Monitoring of Legislation on Violence against Women and Girls in this Module.

Examples:

The law of Spain provides for a State Observatory on Violence against Women to provide advice and analysis of gender violence matters, prepare reports and proposals for action, and supervise collaboration of the institutes involved. Article 30
The law of Guyana names the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security responsible for public awareness and educational programs and for conducting studies and publishing reports on domestic violence in Guyana. Part IV 44.
The laws of Pakistan and India name a protection officer to carry out many of these duties. Article 19 of Pakistan’s draft Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2009 states that the Protection Officer is:

(a) to make a domestic incident report to the Protection Committee, in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed, upon receipt of a complaint of domestic violence and forward copies thereof to the Protection Committee within the local limits of whose jurisdiction domestic violence is alleged to have been committed and to the service providers in the that area;

(b) to make an application in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed to the court, if the aggrieved person so desires, claiming relief for issuance of a protection order;

(c) to ensure that the aggrieved person is provided legal aid;

(d) to maintain a list of all service providers providing legal aid or counseling, shelter homes and medical facilities in a local area within the jurisdiction of the court;

(e) to make available a safe place of residence, if the aggrieved person so requires and forward a copy of his report of having lodged the aggrieved person a shelter home to the Protection Committee;

(f) to get the aggrieved person medically examined, if she has sustained bodily injuries and forward a copy of the medical report to the Protection Committee having jurisdiction in the area where the domestic violence is alleged to have been taken place;

(g) to ensure that the order for monetary relief under section 10 is complied with and executed in accordance with the procedure prescribed; and

(h) to perform such other duties as may be prescribed.

Example: Section 10 of the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 ( Act No. 20 of 1990 of Govt.of India) establishes clear functions for the commission, including: reviewing legal protections for women and making recommendations for their effective implementation and amendments; receive and investigate complaints related to women’s rights; initiate studies on discrimination against women and undertake research; fund impact litigation relating to women, and; issue reports to the government on laws and any matters related to women. The law also establishes a Complaints and Counseling Cell under the National Commission on Women to receive communications about women’s human rights violations, non-implementation of laws, and non-compliance with decisions on various issues, including domestic violence and dowry. Positive aspects of its response protocol includes: expediting and monitoring police investigations, and establishing an Inquiry Committee to investigate, examine witnesses, collect evidence and submit a report with recommendations. Two committees have been established to look into separate incidents of dowry deaths.
  • Legislation should state that the state body or bodies responsible for implementing the law must work in collaboration with NGOs that provide direct service to domestic violence and dowry-related violence victims, police, prosecutors, judges, the health sector, and the education sector, to develop regulations, protocols, guidelines, instructions, directives, and standards, including standardized forms, so that the legislation may be implemented in a comprehensive and timely manner. UN Handbook 3.2.7.

Example: the law of Albania delegates clear responsibilities and duties to its Ministries in the implementation of the law:

Duties of other Responsible Authorities

1. Ministry of the Interior has the following duties:

a. To set up special units at the police departments to prevent and combat domestic violence

b. To train members of the police force to handle domestic violence cases

2. Ministry of Health shall set up necessary structures to provide health care in  domestic violence cases at the emergency units and at the health care centres in municipalities and communes, with a view to:

a. Offer at any time medical and psychological help to domestic violence victims,

b. To carry out necessary examinations at any time at respective public health institutions,

c. To record domestic violence cases at the appropriate medical documentations, as approved by the Ministry of Health

ç. To provide the victim with the respective medical report

d. To guide and refer the victim to other support and protection domestic violence services

3. Ministry of Justice has the following duties:

a. To train the medico-legal experts in recognizing, diagnosing, evaluating and reporting on domestic violence and child abuse injuries;

b. To train the bailiffs on their duty to serve protection orders immediately and to ensure their implementation under Article 23 point 6 and to take appropriate action;

c. To budget for free legal assistance mandated under this act and ensure a sufficient number of trained lawyers to provide said assistance.

4. Local authorities (municipalities, communes) have the following duties:

a. To engage in setting up social services structures for domestic violence cases

b. To install regional 24-hour toll free telephone line, which will then establish links to local units, police, medical emergency units and NPOs, thereby coordinating their actions

c. Establish social and rehabilitation centres for victims and perpetrators and coordinate efforts with exiting ones, giving priority to specialised centres in respective fields. Article 7

Duties of all responsible authorities
1. Each of responsible authorities has the duty to set up the necessary structures and to nominate those individuals responsible for the implementation of this law. The Ministry of LSAEO shall supervise fulfilment of this obligation.
Article 8

  • Legislation should also require adequate and sustained funding for all aspects of implementation so that the law can be effective.  (See: UN Handbook 3.2.2)

Example: the law of Philippines requires funding to implement the law.  Section 45.

CASE STUDY: India’s National Commission for Women Act, 1990 ( Act No. 20 of 1990 of Govt.of India) contains a provision on central government grants for the implementation of this act:

(1) The Central Government shall, after due appropriation made by Parliament by law in this behalf, pay to the Commission by way of grants such sums of money as the Central Government may think fit for being utilized for the purposes of this Act.

(2) The Commission may spend such sums as it thinks fit for performing the functions under this Act, and such sums shall be treated as expenditure payable out of the grants referred to in sub-section (1). 

  • Importantly, laws should include a requirement that secondary legislation be quickly enacted within a specified time period.
  • Legislation should require data collection on dowry-related violence, dowry-related deaths and domestic violence reports which are disaggregated by sex, gender, race, age, ethnicity and other relevant characteristics. (UN Handbook 3.3.2) Research and studies should also investigate the practice of dowry giving/taking/abetting, causes and risk factors, the nature and extent of demands, community and family expectations, and consequences.
  • Legislation should require data collection on specific aspects relating to the implementation of the new law, such as: number of orders for protection granted, denied, cancelled, appealed, etc.  These should be kept and made available publicly.  In addition, qualitative data about the effectiveness of orders for protection should be gathered on a regular basis from police, courts, relevant government ministries, counseling centers and shelters, and from complainant/survivors. Legislation should require that this data be compiled by the relevant government ministry and published on an annual basis. (See UN Handbook 3.3.2; and the section on Monitoring of Laws on Violence Against Women and Girls of this Module.
  • Legislation should require public awareness programs on domestic violence and dowry-related violence. (See: law of Spain; law of India, Ch. III, para. 11; UN Handbook 3.5.2; and Council of Europe General Recommendation (2002)5, Appendix, paras. 6-13) Legislation should engage, collaborate with and provide funding to NGOs and advocates that conduct various public awareness campaigns on violence against women. For example, SACHET of Pakistan runs a Fight against Dowry campaign; Rozan carries out its Munsalik campaign to sensitize and train media on gender-sensitive reporting; Ain o Salish Kendra of Bangladesh has a human rights awareness unit that coordinates school theatrical and cultural groups with training on human rights, gender and acting; provides training on human rights and gender to students, teachers and theater groups; organizes study groups and debates, and; coordinates festivals and events.

 

Example: The village of Nilambur, India, has undertaken a campaign to become a dowry-free village. The campaign began with a 3-day workshop bringing together religious leaders, youth and women to discuss the problem of dowry and pledge to not accept or give dowry. The campaign also fostered dialogue with religious leaders to gain their support in opposing dowry practices, as well as opened up discussions about the need to protect women’s property rights. The campaign engaged Mahal committees, which often formalize marriages, in discussions to gain their support for the campaign. Public village meetings, with strong participation by women, discussed dowry, desertion and child marriages. The village launched the campaign, with parliamentary members, elected representatives, and religious leaders in attendance. Cultural events, celebrations, workshops, and theater performances followed. On June 13, 2009, official registration for a dowry-free panchayat by women and men, ages 14 to 30 years, began and registrants include their opinions about dowry, as well as the reasons behind divorce or desertion by women. People may continue to register online on the campaign’s website. Ultimately, the plan is for registration to lead to vocational training for women whose husbands have left them and widows, career and marital counseling for youth, and vigilance committees for women victims of violence and discrimination, and gender desks in schools to address discrimination and violence. This campaign incorporates important elements: participation and involvement of women and youth, dialogue with and engagement of religious leaders, public awareness campaigns, discussions of root causes of violence against women, an open and ongoing commitment to the campaign by women and men, and empowerment programs for women.

 

  • Legislation should require education on domestic violence, dowry-related violence and discrimination against women for all grade levels which includes information on relevant laws. (See: Council of Europe General Recommendation (2002)5, Appendix, 14-16; UN Handbook 3.5.3; and the law of Spain, which includes detailed provisions for inclusion of information on gender violence at all levels of its educational curricula, including training of teachers. Article 4, Article 7) See also Knowledge Module on Education (forthcoming)