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Bill to protect women from domestic violence

Friday 24 June 2005

Special Correspondent

Even threat of abuse will attract penal action under the measure

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the introduction of a comprehensive Bill to protect women from domestic violence of any kind including dowry-related harassment. This fulfils a long pending demand of women activist groups and other non-governmental organisations.

Not just actual violence, even a threat of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse will attract penal action.

The coverage under the Bill is wider. Sisters, widows, mothers and single women are entitled to protection.Relatives living together as a joint family will also be covered. In legal terms, it means all women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage or adoption.

The Bill seeks to protect the rights of women to secure housing. It provides the right for a woman to reside in her matrimonial home or shared household, whether or not she has any title or right to such home or household. The rights will be secured by residence orders passed by magistrates.

The magistrates will be empowered to pass special "protection orders" to prevent the accused from entering the workplace or other places frequented by the victim to try and communicate with her and from isolating any asset used by both parties.

Announcing the decision, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the Bill would provide for the appointment of Protection Officers and registration of the NGOs as service-providers for assisting the victims in the form of medical examination, legal aid and safe shelter.

See online : The Hindu

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