Violence against women persists in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. States have an obligation to protect women from violence, to hold perpetrators accountable and to provide justice and remedies to victims. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (or the Domestic Violence Act) is a laudable piece of legislation that was enacted in 2005 to tackle this issue. The Act in theory goes a long way towards protection of women in the domestic setup. Though the act has been in place for several years, not enough has been done by the central as well as state governments to ensure that women benefit from the act. Victims are still at the mercy of police and the issue does not figure in the priority list of implementers. In order to engage with the policymakers for proper implementation of the PWDV Act, WPC worked with Oxfam in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh with the following objectives:
- To equip organizations and activists to lobby for effective implementation of Act and build their capacities for proper monitoring including setting up of support institutions, funds allocation and utilization.
- To promote planned and coordinated effort on the part of those working to stop violence against women
- To create a forum for sharing experiences, knowledge, news and spread awareness about the Act and bring in more organizations to form a network at state level
- To enhance the role of civil society organizations in addressing the issue in general and promote partnership with the government.
Under the first phase of the project WPC did a Situational Analysis through desk research to know the exact status of PWDV Act implementation in each of the states mentioned in the project. The research threw light on the existing resources in terms of protection officers appointed and the infrastructure in place for their operation, kinds of shelter homes- their efficacy and number of service providers registered so that partners could lobby for changes with facts and figures in hand as well as measure the impact at the end of the project.
WPC in this period also undertook one-day state travel to Gujarat on 24th July 09, Andhra Pradesh on 24th August 09, Orissa on 1st September 09 and Uttar Pradesh on 5th October 09 for interacting with the partners and to assess their capacities. The objective of these interactive meetings was to do state-specific need assessment, to identify and orient other potential partners and to work towards creating an alliance at state level. During this time efforts were also be made to involve non-VAW partners and groups working in the state for the effective implementation of the project and to gather evidence for influencing the policies. This exercise helped to identify the good practices adopted in various states and will also help in fine-tuning the project interventions.